Monday, July 14, 2008

Summer League 'Big Three'

There's around 14 players, give or take, on the Blazers Summer League Roster, but let's be honest, three of the 14 are the emphasis. Jerryd Bayless, Petteri Koponen and Nicolas Batum are the only guys with a legit chance of making the regular season roster. That's not to say the other players on the roster aren't skilled, but the combination of talent and numbers already residing on the Blazers payroll make it all but impossible at this point for anyone not drafted by Kevin Pritchard to see a regular season contract, guaranteed or otherwise.

So with that cruel fact in mind, here's what assistant coach Monty Williams, who's commanding Portland's Summer League ship, had to say about Bayless, Koponen and Batum.

On playing time for Bayless, Koponen and Batum:
"Our goal is to play those three guys. I think it’s 40 minute games down there, but I can play them 48 minutes down there, that would be great.

"I think the more we can put (Koponen, Bayless and Batum) in situations that they haven’t been in in college and put them in situations where they can look good, it’s going to help their confidence. At the same time, you almost have to put them in a situation where they might fail just so they can understand how tough this game is."

On Jerryd Bayless' strengths:
"He’s as strong as a bull. He’s big like Brandon, compact. Things come easy to him. He’s got to work on getting his shot off quicker or else longer 2’s are going to block that shot. The things that we’ve been impressed with him so far is that he just wants to be in the gym all day. We’re going to have to back him down some because we all know that this thing is too long of a race for him to try to push 150% every day.

"The thing that he does well is he keeps his man on his hip and he can come off screens and catch and get his shot off. Now, he’s going to have to get it off quicker. He’s strong like Brandon in that he can get you on his hip and finish in the hole."

On Koponen's preparation for Summer League and his improvement:

"I had him for a couple of week’s everyday. The thing I like about him is his size, he can shoot it a little bit, he’s quicker than most people give him credit for, and he works. A lot of the guys shy away from my workouts, just because I try to push guys to their limits, and he didn’t back down one bit. That says a lot about him. Travis was like that. The first couple of times that we worked out he wasn’t use to that kind of preparation. Petteri didn’t back down from the start.

"He’s done this and that (at the practice facility), cause this is comfortable. Once we get to Vegas and a guy from overseas or a guy that trying to get into the league punches him in the mouth, we’re going to see what he’s about. That kind of pressure 94 feet in Vegas is a different kind of beast, so we’ll see."

On Nicolas Batum's game:
"I’ve been surprised by Nicolas and his ability to score the ball coming off of screens.

"In this situation, we don’t have a lot of scorers. Lets just be honest. So what he was able to do stands out because he just did the little things. He came off screens. He offensive rebounded the ball. He can push it, but we’re not allowing him to right now.

His shot is not tight enough right now and he’s really narrow, so I don’t think he’s going to have three-point range yet."

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