Joel Freeland has been training in the Canary Islands to prepare for the upcoming 2013-2014 season. Freeland, a former player for CB Gran Canaria, used the time to focus on defense and conditioning with hopes of gaining more minutes in the 2013-2014 season.
I like where his head is, but I do not think it will pay the dividends he has in mind. While it can only benefit the Blazers to see their players improve, Freeland is likely to see 3rd string minutes at either power forward or center (maybe both).
Although both he and Thomas Robinson struggled through their rookie season last year, it’s more than a reach to say that Portland would prefer to play the 26 year old 30th pick of 2006 over the 22 year old 5th pick of 2012. Considering the heavy minutes that LaMarcus Aldridge will log as well, the power forward position is essentially spoken for.
Freeland’s best bet is to become a “Nick Collison-esque” center and take minutes from Meyers Leonard. The Blazers will pour more time into Leonard’s development than Freeland’s, but if Freeland can bring his defensive play up to snuff, he could take advantage of Leonard’s inadequacies and replace him in “stopper” situations.
So if Freeland wants to see a fraction of the minutes he desires, he has to be the guy that will run the court, set hard picks, and take every charge, without looking to score. In essence, he must embrace a new role in order to adapt to the NBA or else he will fade like Norris Cole’s hair.
I’m glad to see him working so hard. I don’t have to tell you that he had a bit of a rocky start last year, so all improvements are welcome. He’ll never meet the production he did overseas, but I haven’t given up on him becoming a worthwhile role player in the NBA.