Friday, July 6, 2007

Oden's Debut: Portland Notes

I just finished watching Portland kick-off their summer league in Vegas against the Boston Celtics. Oden's debut will obviously command much of everyone's analysis, but there was quite a collection of young talent on both squads to be excited about.

(Because of blogger length limitations, I've broken my Portland and Boston notes up into two separate posts: Boston Notes are here. Also, read why David Stern wants you to hate him.)

The Celtics won 74-66 (boxscore). It wasn't as close at the final score, Boston was comfortably in control a majority of the time.

Notes from the game:

Oden: Lets just say he took full advantage of the generous foul system in place during Summer League. He collected 10 fouls in 20 minutes, and was far from dominating offensively in the post. He is pretty unselfish with the ball, he gave a few nice looks to Aldridge when they ran high-low. Even while struggling, it was hard to ignore his presence. He changes games just by being on the court. Him and Aldrige showed they will play well together on both ends, it will be great to watch this dynamic develop.

Taurean Green: Sergio is obviously going to get the minutes this summer as they try to raise his consistency, but Green was no doubt Portland's best guard tonight (not bad for a guy taken #52 in the draft). He plays hard and showed his toughness getting numerous steals and rebounds. Plus its always fun to watch players that are that fast. Just like the scouting report says though, the jumper is a little shaky.

Lamarcus Aldridge: He is the truth, and it was all on display tonight. With his array of jumpers, post moves, blocks, rebounds, and ability to run the floor, Aldridge is on another level than the summer-league competition. He won't have any problems shouldering the offensive load this season down low if Oden needs time to develop.

Sergio Rodriguez: The Blazers are playing him a lot in an attempt to raise is quality of play when logging big minutes. Rondo was on his hip all night, and although Sergio managed to shake free on several occasions his teammates were often ill-prepared to do anything with his passes. A little disappointing tonight.

Joel Freeland: Gets a bullet point just because I've been hyping him up so much lately. Sadly, we didn't see much of Freeland (the pattern continues), but he had one very nice play on defense where he blocked a Leon Powe dunk attempt. I yelled, "White Keon Claaaaaarke!"

Martell Webster: Don't let the stat line fool you, Martell was mostly a non-factor until the fourth quarter when the outcome had been determined. He managed to show his potential with his athleticism and beautiful shot, but still didn't really seem like he has put it all together. He had some success when Portland would run him off of screens for catch-and-shoots (as opposed to what we saw all last season-Martell standing in the corner), maybe they'll explore that route more in the future.

Stefano Mancinelli: Wow, anyone predict this guy to get so much burn? Despite almost 20 minutes of PT, Mancinelli didn't do much. I spent the whole game wondering why he was in instead of forwards like McRoberts (4:32) or Freeland (9:46).

Unfortunately, we didn't get to see much of "The Finnagler" Petteri Koponen or hometown guy Terrance Green. Terrance is in the impossible position of needing desperately to impress to get on with an NBA team, but not getting an opportunity to play. Hopefully that will change, but as a 4th pointguard on the roster, isn't likely.

Overall the game was typical Summer League in that the quality of play pretty much sucked. The tempo was disjointed and there was a whole lot of fouling going on. With all these talented young players it would have been great if the teams could have gotten out and ran more, but this happened rarely. It was still nice to see how players are developing, and let us all pray for the end of internet blackouts.

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