The Blazers announced this morning that they have assigned international rookies Victor Claver and Joel Freeland to the Idaho Stampede of the NBA Development League.
Here’s the official release:
TRAIL BLAZERS ASSIGN VICTOR CLAVER AND JOEL FREELAND TO D-LEAGUE’S IDAHO STAMPEDE
Claver and Freeland to join Portland’s NBA Development League affiliate
PORTLAND, Ore. (December 14th) – The Portland Trail Blazers have assigned forwards Victor Claver and Joel Freeland to the Idaho Stampede of the NBA Development League, it was announced today by Trail Blazers General Manager Neil Olshey.
The two players will join the Stampede today, Dec. 14, and will be active in advance of the team’s contests against the Santa Cruz Warriors tonight and tomorrow, Dec. 15, in Boise.
Claver played with the Stampede on Dec. 7 and 8, posting averages of 11.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 1.00 steal and 33.5 minutes in the two contests. Claver has appeared in six games with Portland this season, and averages 0.8 points, 1.5 rebounds, 0.5 assists and 10.2 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.
In 12 games this year with the Trail Blazers, Freeland is averaging 2.2 points, 1.8 rebounds, 0.4 assists and 10.2 minutes per game. Freeland signed with Portland on July 13, 2012, after being selected by the Trail Blazers with the 30th pick in the 2006 NBA Draft.
This will be Claver’s second stint in Boise, and Freeland’s first. It’s been a weird month for Claver. He and Will Barton were assigned to the D-League for games on the 7th and 8th of December. While they were out, Portland got run out of their own building by the Sacramento Kings, and lost Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews to injuries. On Victor’s return, he went right into the starting lineup. In two starts, he’s shot 2-of-16. He’s looked OK at times, but it’s clear he still needs a lot of work. Considering that in his first start Claver logged 25 and a half minutes, and in his second he play only 12 and half and hoisted only four shots as opposed to 12, it should come as no surprise that he’s been assigned down to get some run against a lower level of competition.
Joel Freeland’s assignment makes sense too, but not for the same reasons. Joel went through a stretch that ended not 10 days ago where his playing time was in the double digits. However, he hasn’t cracked the rotation in two games. Freeland’s development is going to be contingent on getting consistent minutes. Right now, those minutes aren’t there. Running in the D-League will keep him connected. A big game down there, and he could be really motivated to shine with the main squad. My guess is Joel won’t even need to have a big game to use the D-League call-down as motivation. He’s not the kind to hang his head when something like this happens. He’s the kind to use it as a catalyst to work harder.
Outside of Damian Lillard, Freeland has been Portland’s most consistent rookie. Will Barton has had better individual games, and Meyers Leonard has a much higher ceiling, but I feel like Joel can really contribute this season. Hopefully the D-League bounce will bring him back into the fold a little bit.
Just as a side note: With Claver going down, should Wesley Matthews or Nicolas Batum be held out Sunday against the Hornets, you’ll be looking at Luke Babbitt’s first regular season start of 2012-13.