Monday, July 14, 2008

Blazers kick off summer league with a reminder of what summer league is

Blazers had their first summer league game against the Washington Wizards on Monday. The probably still incorrect box score can be found here--hey its summer, lower your standards! If I chose one word to describe the game, I would make one up, and it would be "summerleaguey." By summerleaguey I'm referring to the presence of the usual pick up ball characters; bricks, turnovers, fouls, more bricks/turnovers/fouls, and a general sense of disjointednesses.

And still, I love summer league. I'm coming to believe this is a symptom of some sort of disease. It is fun to try to get some insight into how those players dubbed as "projects" are coming along, nice to see the new guys, and equally enjoyable to watch lesser known talents scrap their heart out to get a shot at the big dream. But yeah, still ugly.

Last summer I went a bit crazy with the summer league game recaps. No more, we're scaling back (it is a recession after all). This time around, Comcast is actually broadcasting the Blazer's games on TV, so I assume more are able to watch. This is how I rationalize my laziness. Onward!

Petteri Koponen:
At long last, The Finnagler. (Fuck you all for not helping popularize that nickname, by the way.) The man that can stir lust even in grown men named Mike Barrett. Petteri has been working and waiting for his time to show the Blazers his improvement. This is a big summer for him, being left off Portland's regular season roster would mean a return to Europe with a contract that would likely be difficult to get out of.

With so much riding on these games, it is understandable Koponen came out a little shaky. Some bad decisions, lots of jumpers landing short, and getting pick pocketed by Dee Brown amalgamated into a first half a little rougher than he would have liked. But once he got loose and settled, The Finnagler was able to finagle a good nights work.

He started hitting more consistently from deep. Getting by his man got easier. He hit some nice floaters in the lane and did a very good job setting up his teammates. The rumors are true, the man can play. Very noticeable along with his skills is his size. Granted, Washington does have smaller guards, but Koponen looked gigantic next to them all. Hopefully we'll get to see Petteri minus the shaky start the rest of the summer and will find him on the Blazers roster come fall.

Jarryd Bayless:
So what of the new lottery pick? Let me paraphrase my man Sartre: He felt the heat. And the heat was actual.

Bayless is ready to score at the NBA level. He will give the Blazers what they are in need of in terms of a perimeter player who can get to the hoop and convert, and he will give it to them by the truckload.

I was happy to see that most of the night Bayless was matched up with Washington guard Nick "The City" Young. Young will be a rotational player next year, he is an explosive guard who can score. And for the most part, he looked outclassed by Jarryd Bayless tonight. This is good news.

Undoubtedly, you will hear knocks that Bayless cannot or will not pass the ball. Don't worry, Nate said in an interview Bayless was told to be very aggressive and look to shoot. Be excited that we have a player that will put considerable pressure on defenses with his ability to get to the basket and either convert, draw fouls, or both. Plainly, Jarryd Bayless was the best player on the court tonight.