The Portland Trail Blazers announced Friday morning that two of their five rookies will be spending a little time in Boise, Idaho. Those two will be Will Barton and Victor Claver.
Portland has assigned Barton and Claver to the Idaho Stampede for the time being. Both will appear in games tonight and Saturday, with no indication of how long their assignment will be.
Here’s the official release:
TRAIL BLAZERS ASSIGN WILL BARTON AND VICTOR CLAVER
TO D-LEAGUE’S IDAHO STAMPEDE
Barton and Claver to join Portland’s NBA Development League affiliate
PORTLAND, Ore. (December 7th) – The Portland Trail Blazers have assigned guard Will Barton and forward Victor Claverto the Idaho Stampede of the NBA Development League, it was announced today by Trail Blazers General Manager Neil Olshey.
Barton and Claver, both rookies, will join the Stampede tomorrow, Dec. 7 in advance of the team’s contests against the Austin Toros tomorrow night and on Saturday, Dec. 8, in Boise.
Barton, the 40th overall pick out of Memphis in the 2012 NBA Draft, has played in 16 games this season for the Trail Blazers, and has averages of 2.6 points, 1.4 rebounds, 0.4 assists and 8.8 minutes per game.
Claver has appeared in four games with Portland this season, and averages 0.3 points, 1.0 rebounds, 0.3 assists and 5.8 minutes per contest. Claver was selected by the Trail Blazers with the 22nd pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, and signed with Portland on July 11, 2012.
This assignment makes a lot of sense for Claver. The Spaniard has fallen into the deactivated black hole recently with the partial re-emergence of Nolan Smith. A D-League bounce will give him a chance to get his legs under him and actually get a little run it.
Barton’s assignment (I don’t want to call it a demotion but you can if you want to) is slightly more shocking. Will’s gotten some time with the big team as of late. His minutes crept up to the double digits by the end of the trip. Certainly his game needs a little more polish, and extended run with the Stampede could help that. Likely, though, Barton will torch the competition in the D-League. Any chance that he’ll come away learning something profound will be slim.
I’m all for using the D-League to develop players in-house. However, the talent drop-off between the NBA and the NBA D-League is so stark that a spot minute player with the regulars is a superstar with the D-Leaugers. Remember that in three games with the Stampede in early 2012 Luke Babbitt averaged 21 points, nine rebounds, and three assists. Luke even flirted with a triple-double in that three-game assignment, scoring 35 points, grabbing 11 rebounds, and handing out six assists. My guess is Barton’s numbers in the next two games will be at least that good. I’m not sure beating up on less talented guys is what Will needs right now.
It’s possible, though, that Barton is included in this send-down to serve as an envoy for Victor Claver. Victor needs some D-League time, maybe Neil Olshey thinks sending Will Barton, a guy who has started to carve out a role for himself, along for the ride will ease the transition and soothe Claver’s ego should it wind up getting bruised.
Claver’s going to be around for awhile because of the way international contracts work. Making sure he doesn’t check out during this rough opening patch of his career is nearly as important as getting him prepped to play in the NBA.
I’m guessing Barton is back before Monday’s match-up at home with Toronto. Not sure if Claver comes back at that point too.