Who is in line to claim the Trail Blazers’ final roster spot after the first week of the preseason? Rip City Project dives into the candidates and how their prospects look moving forward.
After two preseason victories, the Trail Blazers’ final roster spot appears to be far from settled. Luis Montero, Tim Quarterman, Grant Jerrett, and Greg Stiemsma make up the four man race of players on non-guaranteed contracts. Of those four, nobody has separated themselves from the pack after the first week of play. With under three weeks to go before the regular season starts – Rip City Project is attempting to gauge which player appears to be out in front.
Montero is the only player of the four that suited up (most of the time literally) for the Trail Blazers during the 2015-16 season. This should make him the obvious choice to be the favorite, but he has only logged five minutes of play over the course of the first two games. To make matters worse, he didn’t even hit the court during Portland’s last outing against Phoenix.
Quarterman has shared the same fate as Montero to this point, as both players failed to make their way off of the bench against the Suns. Their inactivity might have more to do with the rise of Shabazz Napier than the issues with their own abilities. Napier played 24 minutes against Phoenix, with the majority coming late in the game. Terry Stotts and his staff are taking a long look at what the former UCONN guard can do, which is impacting the other backcourt players’ ability to see time on the court.
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Jerrett and Stiemsma have received longer looks in the opening two games. Jerrett played 13 minutes in Portland’s victory over Utah, and was able to show off some of his shooting touch. While he has had some positive moments – the former Arizona forward has had some truly cringe-worthy moments as well, including a horrid air ball against the Suns.
Stiemsma has done very little to prove that he is more than just a big body with a pulse. He played fourteen minutes in the Trail Blazers’ first game, but the biggest number in his boxscore was his five personal fouls. Much like the first two players we mentioned, the big guys could be headed for a minutes crunch of their own. Noah Vonleh will certainly get more minutes after Friday night, and Meyers Leonard will be closing in on a return of his own.
It is clear that nobody has separated themselves from the pack, perhaps the biggest clue so far comes for the pregame introductions. Before the starting five is announced, there is a montage of the entire team on the big screen. All the players have their own slide, except for Stiemsma, Jerrett, and Quarterman. If the biggest factor in this race so far comes from the introductions – it is obvious that all of these players have a long way to go before they can claim the final roster spot.