We all know the story of basketball redemption in Cleveland. Cleveland had their hearts ripped out from their chests in 2010 when their basketball idol left them in the dust. LeBron James decided to return to his hometown team this summer and the entire city, that hated James four years ago, now praises him. The fact is, most kids grow up dreaming of playing for their hometown team. Which former Oregon native (and current player) would fit best in the Trail Blazers organization?
Kevin Love is by far the best player available on the hometown player list. Even though Love was born in Santa Monica, California, he grew up and played high school basketball in Lake Oswego, Oregon. He was a top ranked prospect out of high school and chose to pursue a collegiate career at UCLA. Love only played his freshman year before entering the 2008 NBA Draft. His high degree of individual success in the NBA has come as a little bit of a surprise.
Through six years in the league, Love has averaged 19.2 points and 12.2 rebounds per game. Last season, Love had his best statistical year in terms of points per game, averaging 26.1 points. He is constantly included in the best power forward discussion, along with LaMarcus Aldridge. Love would be a great addition to any team, however, the Trail Blazers already have an All-Star power forward. The position would be too crowded if the Trail Blazers acquired Love without dealing Aldridge.
Terrence Jones was born in Portland and attended Jefferson High School, which makes him as homegrown as it gets. Jones is a 6’ 9” hybrid forward and currently plays for the Houston Rockets. Jones attended the University of Kentucky and played two years before entering the 2012 NBA Draft. Last season was definitely a break out year for Jones. He played in 76 games (starting in 71 games) and averaged 12.1 points and 6.9 rebounds. I could see Jones fitting well within the Trail Blazers system. He is high energy and aggressive on both ends of the floor.
Next on the list is Terrence Ross. Ross is another player born and raised in Portland. Ross also attended Jefferson High School for a portion of his high school career. During his junior year, Ross left Jefferson and played at Montrose Christian School in Rockville, Maryland. That transition was short lived as Ross returned to Jefferson for his senior season, but did not play due to a transfer rule.
Ross attended the University of Washington and played two years. He declared for the 2012 NBA Draft, same as his high school teammate Jones. Ross was drafted by the Toronto Raptors (eighth overall) and struggled to make a huge impact in his first season. Even though he only averaged 6.4 points and 2.0 rebounds in his first season, he did receive an invitation to the 2013 Sprite Slam Dunk Contest. He beat out Jeremy Evans for the slam dunk title by receiving 58% of the fan votes in the final round.
Last season, Ross finally had a productive year on the court. He contributed 10.9 points and 3.1 rebounds while playing in 81 games. He also tied the Toronto Raptors franchise record for most points in a game (Vince Carter) when he dropped 51 points against the Clippers on January 25, 2014. It marked the first time in NBA history that a player scored at least 50 points in a game while averaging under 10 points per game. He would be an interesting addition to the Trail Blazers roster. He’s not the most well-rounded player but is definitely super athletic. Plug him in to the shooting guard position and he might be able to provide a spark when needed.
Finally, let’s look at Medford, Oregon native Kyle Singler. He may not be considered a hometown player but he does hail from the Beaver State. Singler was a standout high school player averaging 29.3 points and 10.6 rebounds in his senior season at South Medford High School. Singler led South Medford to their first ever state basketball championship in 2007 when they defeated Lake Oswego and Love. Heavily recruited by top-notch college basketball programs, Singler decided to play at Duke University. Singler spent a rare four years in college and declared for the 2011 NBA Draft.
He was drafted by the Detroit Pistons (33rd overall) but signed with CB Lucentum Alicante, a Spanish team, until the 2011 NBA Lockout ended. In two seasons with the Pistons, Singler has averaged 9.1 points and 3.9 rebounds. Singler would be another player the Trail Blazers could use. He is a high percentage three-point threat and can stretch a defense. The small forward hasn’t impressed most but I think he’d be an excellent addition to most teams.
So there are just a few options for the Trail Blazers if they wished to bring in a hometown player. Even a guy like Ronnie Brewer, who was born in Portland but attended high school in Fayetteville, Arkansas, could be considered. Every fan base loves a hometown story and I believe that it would add some interest to the Trail Blazers roster. What are your thoughts? Do you like the idea of a hometown player or does it only matter when they are the caliber of King James?