Trail Mix: Summer League Wrap-Up
The NBA’s Las Vegas Summer League is coming to an end shortly with the championship game between the Rockets and Kings starting at 6PM on NBATV.
The Blazers summer league ended on Friday but there were loose ends to tie up as well as some other Blazers content on this Monday.
The Blazers made two appearances on Ben Golliver’s top-ten list of “strange but true” moments from the NBA Summer League on SI.com. Meyers Leonard hitting the ref in the face on accident before the start of the Blazers win against the Hawks got the most lengthy write-up.
Portland’s Leonard was eager to make a good first impression. The 11th pick in 2012 received only sporadic minutes last season, and a shoulder injury sidelined him for the first two games in Sin City. No wonder the always energetic 7-footer looked a little extra amped for his debut against Atlanta last Tuesday.
While getting ready to jump for the opening tip, Leonard accidentally hit the referee in the face (lightly), causing a slight delay as everyone reset their positions. Guess what happened next? On Portland’s first defensive possession, Leonard was immediately whistled for two fouls within seven seconds. Leonard finished with a game-high seven fouls (players don’t foul out in Summer League); no one else was called for more than three.
Thomas Robinson missing three free-throws after being fouled on a 90-footer also made the cut.
Mike Tokito of The Oregonian writes that CJ McCollum showed signs of improvement despite not garnering All-Summer League honors.
McCollum averaged 20.2 points in five games in Las Vegas, down slightly from the 21.0 he averaged last year. But the second-year guard was far more comfortable and efficient as he shot 47.9 percent from the field after shooting 36.6 in 2013.
“I thought it was a good experience,” McCollum said after the Blazers’ finale, a loss to Atlanta on Friday. “Definitely good to get back out here and compete at a high level, good to get some good game experience and some consistent minutes, 30-plus minutes or whatever it was.”
In the “way too soon category” a summer edition of power rankings from NBA.com’s advanced stats writer John Schuhmann. The Blazers are in 8th, right behind LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
8 Portland (54-28)
Pace: 97.5 (10), OffRtg: 108.3 (5), DefRtg: 104.7 (16), NetRtg: +3.5 (8)
Key addition(s): Potential for sleeping on the bench
Key question: How do they get better defensively?
The Blazers were a below-average defensive team in the regular season and got smoked by the Rockets and Spurs in the playoffs. The additions of Steve Blake and Chris Kaman don’t exactly move the needle on that end of the floor, especially in regard to forcing turnovers, where this team ranked dead last in 2013-14
Nicolas Batum is apparently already starting training for the French national team’s participation in the Basketball World Cup in Spain beginning in late August, according to his Instagram.
And, if you haven’t heard, the Blazers are getting in on the sleeved jersey game. Here’s the photo of the actual jersey from ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell.