Monday, July 12, 2010

2010 Summer League Rosters: Portland Trail Blazers

These things tend to tangent. Stick with it.

Luke Babbitt

I'm still not sure of why Portland has been trying to acquire small forwards so proactively. The Luol Deng rumour won't die, even if you want it to, and the team just signed Wesley Matthews to a full MLE contract. They also traded for Babbitt's draft rights and signed him straight away, despite already having Nicolas Batum on the roster. Batum is really good and already has a capable backup in Dante Cunningham in place; now with Babbittt as well, I don't see the need for this constant desire to get another one.

Jimmy Baron

Baron holds every Rhode Island shooting record going. He is an absolute 100% pure, unsullied, virginal shooter, who unfortunately doesn't do a lot else. Baron's first and only professional season thus far saw him play for Mersin in Turkey, where he averaged 16.5 points in 28.6 minutes with 43.4% three point shooting....and nothing else. Such is the Jimmy Baron experience. Not a bad thing, but not an NBA thing.

Dante Cunningham

Considering he's always been a power forward in a small forward's body, Cunningham made a pretty decent effort of pretending otherwise. Given plenty of opportunities due to injury, Cunningham shot his customary mid range two's well, rebounding well enough for a man of his size, and proved he could play defense on both small forwards and power forwards. He also turned it over only 25 times all year, leading all rookies in turnover percentage at 6.0%. This is helped significantly by the fact that he doesn't dribble, but nevertheless, it's a hugely impressive number. (Tyler Hansbrough was next lowest at 7.1% in his part-season of work; Marcus Thornton was third at 7.3%. The worst? Jrue Holiday, 21.9%. Then James Johnson. Then Hasheem Thabeet.)

In fact, not only did it lead all rookies, the only player that played significant minutes (i.e. more than 500) to have a lower turnover percentage than that was Maurice Evans at 4.5%. Michael Redd had only a 5.8%, but he barely played all season. And Steve Novak had a 1.8% in 57 games; however, he only played 14 seconds per game. (NB: That figure is exaggerated slightly.)

Makes you wonder why they wanted Babbitt, in a way.

Michael Fey

After underperforming at UCLA for four years, Fey disappeared from American view. He spent two years in China and one in Jordan, and before that, in 2006, he appeared on the Lakers summer league. He must have left some kind of lasting impression, because three years later, the Lakers brought him into training camp to (ostensibly) fight for a roster spot. He didn't make it - he was never going to make it - but Fey's return to America and subsequent trip to the D-League are quite the departure from a man previously doing the Samaki Walker Tour Of The Far East. Local connections matter.

In the D-League this year, Fey played a full 50 game campaign for the L.A. D-Fenders and averaged 12.8ppg and 6.4rpg. Once the D-League season finished, Fey returned to his favoured Eastern pastures and played for Al Rayyan (a team from Qatar, not a man called Mr Al Rayyan) in the Asian Club Championships. He averaged 9.4 points and 3.3 rebounds in 7 games. Fey turned 27 a couple of months ago and is not going to randomly start developing NBA talent.

Mike Green

Green was covered in the Sixers summer league roster round-up from last week. He did not play well for them, however, averaging only 5.0 points, 1.8 assists and 1.8 steals per game, while turning it over three times a game and shooting only 27% from the field. He was aggressive and got to the foul line, but forced the issue and did not put on a good showing.

Ekene Ibekwe

In summer league last year, Ibekwe made a name for himself when he made a game saving block for a Raptors win, but landing badly on his neck in the process and not playing again. He suffered no long term side effects, however, and was back after a few weeks. Ibekwe initially had trouble getting work, being released by Turkish team Kepez Bld Antalya in preseason, and later having an unsuccessful tryout in Iran of all places (as did Othella Harrington, of all people). He finally found work in the Turkish second division, playing for a team called Genc Banvitliler and averaging 21.2ppg, 10.6rpg, 1.2apg, 2.2spg and 2.1bpg, shooting 56% from the field and 39% from three. The Turkish second division is not good, but those numbers are.

Ibekwe graduated from college as an athlete, shotblocker and dunker, who had no offensive finesse. He couldn't shoot or dribble, finish against size, or post-up, and turned it over way too much. Those things are still true, but he has bulked up and improved his shot over time.

Armon Johnson

Johnson has not yet signed with the team, even though Babbitt and fellow draft pick Elliot Williams have. (Note: Williams is absent from summer league with a knee he injured during pre-draft workouts.) He should do, however, because Portland could use him right away as a backup point guard.

Joe Krabbenhoft

Wisconsin forward Krabbenhoft was in summer league with the Blazers last year, too, and thus must have done something to impress them to come back. Starting in the D-League but spending most of last year in Korea, Krabbenhoft averaged 11.7ppg and 7.2rpg for the Seoul SK Knights, albeit while shooting only 13% from three point range. When the Korean season ended, Krabbenhoft joined the D-League and averaged 13.0 ppg, 6.9 rpg and 2.5 spg in 21 combined games for the Sioux Falls Skyforce (from both the start and the end of the season). Krabbenhoft is a smart passer and defender, and a capable rebounder, who just doesn't have NBA calibre physical tools.

Patrick Mills

Mills is out of contract right now, but he does have an unguaranteed $937,195 qualifying offer extended to him right now. He didn't play much last year due to injury. In the ten games he did play, Mills averaged 2.6 points in 3.8 minutes, which equates to 24.6 points per 36 minutes. He contributed little else, as is his style, but he's capable of scoring at the NBA level. He is also entirely capable of scoring at the D-League level, as evidenced by the 25.6 points per game he averaged on assignment with the Idaho Stampede.

Demetris Nichols

Speaking of Portland's desire for small forwards, here's one they drafted once. Nichols was traded to New York as a part of the Zach Randolph deal, and later spent time with the Cavaliers and Bulls. Nichols was previously covered in the Jazz summer league roster round-up from last week; playing for them in the Orlando Summer Pro League, Nichols averaged 5 points, 3 rebounds and a steal per game.

Jeff Pendergraph

Pendergraph had only conditional guarantees on his contract for this season, yet he met them when he appeared in his tenth game last season. So he shall be back. Due to all of Portland's injuries last year, Pendergraph got plenty of chances to play - once he'd recovered from his own, that is - and he did fairly well. He did not rebound well, and his defense was limited to taking charges and fouling people, but he shot a ridiculously good 66% from the field, and could have been allowed more shots. With Juwan Howard seemingly leaving, the backup power forward spot should be his. No one on this list will challenge him for it, at least.

Nik Raivio

Raivio is the hometown boy, recently completing a four year career at the University of Portland. There, he played the driver/slasher to everyone else's jumpshooter, averaging 14.1 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. The rebounding numbers are very good from a 6'4 guard, and Raivio is certainly strong and fearless enough. Unfortunately, he's also lacking a jumpshot and athleticism.

Incidentally for Portland fans (the University), Robin Smeulders has gone to Germany to play for EWE Baskets Oldenburg, which is a pretty sweet gig for him. And point guard T.J. Campbell has gone to Australia to play for the Melbourne Tigers.

Luke Schenscher

The Schensch is back in the NBA, and on the summer league roster of one of the few teams who gave him an NBA contract in the past. Schenscher played 118 minutes for the Blazers in the 2006/07 season, totalling 19 points, 25 rebounds and 25 fouls. Unathletic and not strong, Schenscher was never made for the NBA, despite the awesomeness of his old school hook shot.

Since leaving the NBA that year, and after an abortive injury-riddled season in Germany, Schensch has spent two years back in his homeland of Australia. In his first season back, with the Adelaide 36ers, Schenscher averaged 16.6 points per game, a league leading 10.8 rebounds per game, as well as 1.4 blocks per game (third in the league). He said he would not return to the NBL in pursuit of more lucrative opportunities, but then he did exactly that, spending last season with the Perth Wildcats. His numbers tailed away to only 10.0ppg and 6.2rpg, and if his page is anything to go by, Schenscher didn't win over all the fans;

Boo Schenscher!! sponsor(s) this page.

Effective in one game out of every six. In the rest? Can't score, can't pass, can't rebound, can't defend (his man, the basket, or the pick-and-roll) and slows the team to a crawl. Boo! Booooooo!!! - Perth Wildcats fan, 2010

Reyshawn Terry

Terry is a former draft pick of the Dallas Mavericks (via Orlando), a 6'8 jumpshooting forward out of North Carolina. Well, that was the plan at least; after shooting 44% from three point range in his senior season, Terry was drafted to be a shooter and athletic defender, without much creativity or ball handling offensively. But in his professional career, Terry's jumpshot has worsened; he shot 16% from the Greek three in his first season, and only 32% in the Italian Lega Due in his second season.

Nevertheless, last year, Terry was playing for Xacobeo Blusens in Spain's ACB,. Any ACB gig is pretty lucrative, and because Xacobeo weren't a very good team, Terry got the chance to play a key role on the team. He averaged 12.1 points, 4.9 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.6 blocks per game, but he also shot only 33% from three point range and 38% overall. Xacobeo did not have very good guard play, which factors, since Terry is no offensive creator on his own. He's still not lived up to his billing as a shooter, however.

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