Say goodbye to Portland Trail Blazers‘status as Las Vegas Summer League favorites as they were securely defeated by Indiana Pacers. Indy blew the doors off in the third quarter, overcoming the helpless and chattering Blazers 27-7, before eventually winning 97-64.
Today’s big story was Kenneth Faried’s exit in the third quarter due to an apparent hand injury. There was no status update before the end of the game, so we provide details when they arrive.
Summer League results are generally irrelevant (Championship party despite), so there is little to resume about the game itself. These games are about the players fighting for their future and their impact on the Blazers. And this is where our focus will lie.
The Portland Summer League experience has been a tale of two teams: the group of players who need immediate help and those who are at an early stage in their long-term development. Let us review them accordingly.
Sometimes a veteran player visits the Summer League to increase their visibility, but that does not explain why Portland has three of them. The more likely cause? Portland uses the Summer League as a method for the three “inferiors” to audition for a spot on the fall list and a very cheap price for the Blazers. So what did today’s performances tell us about their influence?
Kenneth Faried: We can only talk about what happened before his injury. You can see glimpses of prime Faried, including an intriguing dunk and block, but not only has he lost a step, the game seems to have passed him by. Chapter one of the “Book of Faried” focused on his constant visibility; you always knew when Faried was on the field. For stretches of the first half, Faried’s hair was the only thing that set him apart from other fringe players trying to make a list.
Impact: Spot minutes off the bench to give some rest.
Michael Beasley: Beasley was there and he was doing Beasley stuff. He produced a few points and scored 9 on 33% shooting against the Summer League defense. He was invisible at the defensive end. He showed no signs of athletics. This was not a highlight roll performance.
Impact: Poor man’s Carmelo Anthony replacement.
Emmanuel Mudiay: It’s hard to ignore Mudiay during Portland’s helpless third quarter. It was also hard to notice him. At one point, Portland needed a leader to step up and fix the ship, Mudiay was generally irrelevant. Six years after his NBA debut, he was unable to settle a Summer League team during their opponent’s run. Portland already has plenty of guards, so if you’m not a Summer League standout, that’s not a good sign.
Impact: Insignificant in the Summer League, so that’s bad news for the regular season.
Unfortunately, any extended analysis of the “rings” also buries the members: Decent NBA players should absolutely, completely dominate the Las Vegas Summer League. If any of these players are seriously considering filling the tournament with meaningful minutes, it may be cause for concern.
Of course, Portland is actually developing a few younger guys from the latest drafts. Fortunately, we received an extended look at them today.
CJ Elleby: Your second season in the Summer League can be telling. You have now spent a year in the NBA, gathering coaching, knowledge and getting spot minutes in blowouts. In theory, Summer League should be your jam, as the lower level game should start to slow down a bit for you. None of that seems to be the case for Elleby so far. His shot would be optimistically described as “an ongoing work”, his defense is a mixed bag and he simply does not order a presence on the field. He finished with 3 points on 12.5% shooting.
Greg Brown: He’s an energy guy, and for a second – round pick, that’s all you can ask for in the Summer League. He moves fast, jumps high and is very fun to watch. With no NBA experience, he already shows a stronger court presence than Elleby. He probably won’t be ready to contribute to the Blazers this season, but surprises have happened before. He had the usual high-energy moments, including one fun dunk that can let you daydream. His 12 points on 50% shooting was the second highest for the team.
George King, Trendon Watford and Antonio Blakeney contributed some statistics in garbage time, but we learned a little new about them.
The final game of the preliminary round for Portland, a date with the Suns Saturday night at 6 p.m. 18.00
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