Portland Trail Blazers vs. Houston Rockets
Tip-off: 5:30 p.m. Sunday, July 13, 2014
Where: Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nevada
After suffering a close loss at the hands of Tim Hardaway Jr. and the New York Knicks, the Trail Blazers’ summer league squad must gather themselves to face the Houston Rockets. The Trail Blazers are at a distinct disadvantage since the Rockets’ team played together in Orlando Summer league just last week. There is no single player that carries the Houston team, but their early successes suggest that guards Isaiah Canaan (34th pick, 2013) and Nick Johnson (42nd pick, 2014) are ones to watch out for.
Although the Trail Blazers have only played one game so far, it is clear that C.J. McCollum and Will Barton will be relied on to score in heavy minutes, while Thomas Robinson gets what’s his on both ends of the floor. Since the Trail Blazers have filled all 15 roster spots for the 2014-15 season there is no real need to play non-returning players anything more than relief minutes since they will not get contracts in Portland. We’ll see how this affects cohesion, as they all try to get noticed by scouts for other teams.
Unfortunately, we have been unable to see all of Portland’s returning players compete. Meyer Leonard did not play in yesterday’s game due to a strained back. His status for today’s matchup remains uncertain. Regardless, watch closely to see who gets minutes when, because it may indicate who is favored to receive rotation minutes in the upcoming regular season. While summer league is not high-level basketball, it has important implications for the Trail Blazers’ bench.
Hopefully the Trail Blazers will pull this one off. Since most other teams play a combination of undrafted players, their own draft picks, and returning players, one would hope that Portland would prove formidable with their NBA-experienced core. The Rockets will be a tough opponent, but if the Trail Blazers actually keep losing, I have serious concerns about how much development is still needed for their young bench players to contribute in a meaningful way during the regular season. Tune in at 5:30 p.m. to see how well they stack up.