Thursday, July 13, 2006

Vegas Wrap Up

I had a chance to talk to a couple coaches and former players not currently associated with the Blazers. Since I didn't tell them I was asking questions for a blog I'm not going to narc them out by revealing who, but the general collective wisdom included:

--Jarrett Jack is the real deal at point guard and will be the future at that position.
--Roy is an adequate PG for summer league but probably won't see many minutes there at all in the regular campaign.
--Some think the Blazers will have a problem in the future because Roy and Webster play the same position.
--Others think that Martell will make a living on the wing, and since most shooting guards slash through the middle or come off curls at the elbow, he'll end up being more of a 3 because he'll be able to defend small forwards outside and just run from wing to wing. (That should make Ken happy, he's been saying it for a while.)

Not being a GM or scout myself (or having any pretensions that I am good enough to do either) these summations should be taken with a grain of salt, but based on what we've seen at summer league here's my best guess about the strengths/weaknesses of each player and their prospects...

Martell Webster--He's starting to expand his game and do the little things necessary for him to earn playing time in the NBA. His defensive effort was far better than we saw last season, as was his court awareness. His shot is easily the best on the team but he still has problems scoring when he has to handle the ball himself. Catching and shooting off a curl screen is automatic for him, dribbling or hesitating messes him up. He also disappeared a bit when he wasn't involved in the offense. He's putting more pressure on himself than the coaches are on him, at least in terms of frustration level. This will definitely be another year of learning for him. Expect to see improvement, but don't look for a transformation into stardom just yet.

Travis Outlaw--He still shows flashes of brilliance and his performance increased over the last couple of games. He's lost out there too much for a guy beginning to move into veteran status, however. His defensive performance was marginally better. His offense is still really streaky. He's reverted to shooting five different ways instead of banking on one or two solid moves. Nobody flies or makes spectacular plays like him though. If the Blazers have more patience expect him to see backup minutes. If their patience has run dry he could be traded.

Lamarcus Aldridge--Nobody should describe this kid as "raw". His game is actually quite smooth and polished. He just needs time to make the adjustment, especially with his body. He's got good offensive tools and good defensive instincts. He just needs to see where he can contribute. Expect him to get pushed around a lot this year, maybe to the point of disappearing from time to time. I don't think he can play center yet unless we're just running up and down the court. Don't expect huge minutes or huge production, but watch him grow into his role. Plan on loving him big time in 1.5-2 years.

Brandon Roy--This was Roy's summer league. Had the team centered the offense around him he would have scored as many as Foye. He was unstoppable. He's slippery on the dribble and has a great sense of where and how to get his shot. He plays credible defense already and can pass some. This is just summer league and he'll have several levels of adjustment to make. He'll need to learn to deal with quick-handed and big-bodied guards both, and I expect that to be a struggle. But he will also contribute right away, likely at the 2-spot.

Ha Seung-Jin--Has hasn't changed much, which is bad news. My gut says he will be waived or traded. If he's not, he'll not see much court time.

Joel Freeland--His biggest asset right now is his speed. He runs exceptionally well for a big man. He needs to add both bulk and strength before he can even think about playing the league at 6'10" though. His offense is decent, if a little limited. He's still feeling his way on the defensive end. If he puts in the required work, expect him to get a look as early as next season. The Blazers have already said he's going back to Europe this year.

Hector Romero--He showed the ability to score, some hustle, and a little bit of rebounding. He also has grit and a stout body. He's a little undersized for his position though and caught in a numbers game here. The Blazers seem high on him so expect him to get an invite to camp. If Ha is cut or Skinner is traded he could even make the team, but it's a long shot. I wouldn't be surprised to see him make a team somewhere though.

Kevin Pinkney--He showed a lot of hustle and became a player that the coaches relied on during summer league. He's pretty versatile. He's caught in the same trap as Romero, however. The buzz is that he needs to add some strength and get another year's experience before he's ready for the league.

Marque Perry--He did a fine job running the squad for summer league and showed some shooting range, but his defense was suspect and his shot spotty. We already have our steady guard in Blake and a prospect back up in Rodriguez. Perry only gets an invite to camp if they need another warm body.

Fred House--Provided a little energy and got a decent look, but like Perry I don't see him figuring into future plans.

Brandon Bowman--Tall, but not as versatile, polished, or productive as Pinkney and Romero. Probably won't get another look this year.

Nedzad Sinanovic--We saw less than four minutes of him, so maybe this isn't a fair judgment, but from what we saw I'd say he's like Ha, just without the talent and quickness.

(Yup, I said that.)

--Dave (


Blogger Ken said...

Hey Dave,

It was good to meet you while you were in Vegas, I wish I had had the chance to see another game with you. I agree pretty much with all your impressions. I'm even less a scout than you claim to be but I have a feeling we are going to see good things from Roy. He will be a great off-guard who can handle the ball in most situations without having the coaches cross their fingers. As you alluded, I definitely see Martell playing more 3.

Keep up the good work with the blog. It's good to hear from someone who doesn't necessarily go in with preconceptions.

8:10 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Hey Ken, I enjoyed meeting you too. It was great to have someone to talk to about the game. In fact I'm toying with the idea of inviting blog readers to come next year and we could all sit together for a game or two. We could probably even find a former player or something to sit next to us and tell us what he sees.


9:19 AM  
Anonymous TP43 said...

Dave & Ken: I'm dazzled, very thorough and insightful points that sound like they were somewhat collective consciousness. Great to have two sets of eyes and I appreciate that you guys appeared to have really locked in on getting as much analysis of our guys as possible including picking people’s brains. Based on your analysis and other recent press, frankly I’m no longer concerned about two areas: Brandon and Martell coexisting at the 2 and being thin at the 3. Martell will probably develop into a legitimate 2 at some point but he may be best suited to the 3 at this point in his career. With his size and the ability to rebound coupled with an inability to handle the ball, you’ve got to say that we’re describing a 3 (throw out the pre-conceived idea that he’s a 2). IMHO this is going to be critical because frankly, I think we are seeing the last gasp of Travis’ career in Portland. Feeling opinionated today! Thanks a ton.

Dave - this is exactly what I was referring to when comparing your Blog to a forum. There's no way you get this deep into the team / player makeup in a forum setting.

11:38 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Thanks TP. I've always said the forum is good for what it is, and frankly a lot of funny stuff goes on in there. But there's room for a lot of different sites to be "good" and I hope this is one of them. It's like I was saying in the "Not Quite Getting It" venues are like movies. Sometimes you want a comedy, sometimes a thriller, sometimes a mob flick. There's room for them all. You've added a lot of great comments and e-mails to this site, so thank you.

You're right about the collective consciousness thing too. What's funny is that I didn't read anybody else's posts or stories on summer league when in Vegas and I don't think too many of the guys there (Marentette, Tokito, Eggers, etc.) read mine, but we all came up with relatively similar analyses. Kind of gives you some confidence it might be true...


2:23 PM  

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