PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS SUMMER LEAGUE PREVIEW, BROUGHT TO YOU BY FIELD ROAST:

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Another July, another half-hearted blockbuster Summer League roster from the PORTLAND MICHAEL BAYBLAZERS. I can’t be the only one tired of all these explosions and so called “Witty” lines and whatnot. I much prefer the prestige basketball of fall or the quirky indie college players performing to Belle and Sebastian in the early spring. But I am a basketball critic and Summer League basketball is the dominant financial engine of the industry so I am obliged to write about it, I suppose.

Because their bench is “Under-performing” and young the Blazers are bringing A LOT of NBA-players to Summer League for reps. Six of their players played for the team last year, two of them in relatively major roles. The rest of the guys are all weirdo Euro prospects, and I will discuss them as well.

DUDES YOU KNOW (In alphabetical order):

BARTON, WILL:

WHO IS HE? A dynamic guard in his third year on the Blazers. Athletic, rangy, possesses a good shot but either has been robbed of his birthright minutes by Mo Williams or too inconsistent to crack the rotation. The official position of this website is the former but I encourage people to read literature on either side of the issue.

WHAT ARE HIS SUMMER LEAGUE GOALS? Will has talked about playing point guard, which is probably not going to happen in the actual NBA, but he will hopefully get some cracks at running pick and rolls and seeing if he can make something out of it. He should also be features on defense, taking whacks at perimeter scorers and exhibiting development on that end, if he has any.

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE, BROUGHT TO YOU BY FIELD ROAST BRAND SEITAN BASED MEAT SUBSTITUTES: A very jaunty headband.

CRABBE, ALAN

WHO IS HE? A three point shooter.

WHAT ARE HIS SUMMER LEAGUE GOALS? Shoot threes. Try to play replacement level defense.

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE An eerie lack of accessories that make you feel unnerved by their absence. Who is this man? Does he feel? Does he sweat?

FREELAND, JOEL

WHO IS HE? A power forward/center on the Blazers who was actually pretty good at the beginning of the year, playing a brand of grinding defense that you wouldn’t expect from a gentleman of the British Isles. He had an MCL sprain halfway through the season and didn’t get back into the rotation when he was healthy.

WHAT ARE HIS SUMMER LEAGUE GOALS? Before he came into the NBA, Joel’s main selling point to any team that signed him was a tremendous pick and pop jumper. Expect to see him try and get that going again. He will also get postups because teams think that kind of thing is funny in summer league.

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE: A totally hilarious basketball with fire coming off of it that he has claimed he is going to get removed because of how silly it looks. It’s like if a there was a cartoon tiger who has basketball themed stripes. Hopefully he replaces it with a big-ass bulldog wrapped in a British Empire flag weeping over Queen Victoria’s grave.

LEONARD, MEYERS

WHO IS HE? A tall person who flails a lot on NBA courts. A person I’ve made so much fun of that I have dreams where he beats me up while I cry and apologize.

WHAT ARE HIS SUMMER LEAGUE GOALS? Not flail so much. Resemble an NBA player.

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE: An unnervingly perfect pomade structure fixed on the top of his head.

MCCOLLUM, CJ

WHO IS HE? An aspiring NBA journalist who is occasionally a small combo guard in the NBA.

WHAT ARE HIS SUMMER LEAGUE GOALS: Resemble an NBA player. CJ being injured for a lot of last year was not good for his getting used to the league, but when he did play, the results were really underwhelming for a four-year player. If he can help the summer league offense go he will go a little ways towards proving he belongs.

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE: A faint mustache, the sort preferred by a man trying to make love to your wife at your bowling night.

ROBINSON, THOMAS

WHO IS HE? A power forward who does hustle shit. Was regarded as skilled in college but hasn’t shown anything in that vein in the NBA.

WHAT ARE HIS SUMMER LEAGUE GOALS? Board, try and exhibit the kind of skill shit that will buy him more NBA minutes.

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE: A cat-like reaction to being sprayed with a bottle

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OH MAN, this has been a real work-a-day typing out all this stuff about summer league. I better take a break and have some of the new FIELD ROAST BRAND MAPLE BREAKFAST SAUSAGE. All the flavor of breakfast sausage, none of the pig. Soy and GMO free!

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DUDES YOU DON’T KNOW (And for this section, certainly the most important section, please welcome PRS Summer Leaguer James Fillmore who will be providing extra insights on players you will never think of again after these two weeks.)

The goal of every undrafted player who plays in Summer League is to attract the attention of scouts, be they NBA or D-League or European so I won’t expound on that as much in this section.

APPLING, KEITH

WHO IS HE? JAMES: Keith Appling, a smallish man by basketball standards, played point guard at Michigan State, a college in Vermont. He averaged 3.3 assists — this in college ball, mind you, where all they do is pass for 39 seconds then huck it up — and 2.2 turnovers. That’s an assist-to-turnover ratio of Lousy. He also shot .283 from the shorter college three-point line. This is better than I could do.

CORBIN: A 6-1 point guard guard who played at Michigan State. His DX profile is not terribly kind: the word “Vanilla” is involved. It does compliment his defense, though. In this Youtube video, the ESPN YouTube guy calls a move he made “Nasty,” but he just kinda dribbled behind his back without any particular flair and drove to the rim. College basketball types: raise your standards for nastiness!

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE: A wristband on his left hand. This probably indicates that he is left handed, which would be VERY useful if he were a baseball pitcher.

BERRY, DAVION

WHO IS HE? JAMES: Davion Berry can shoot, which is nice for him, because he is 6’4” and 185 lbs, just about the worst possible size a professional American basketball player can be. Like Damian Lillard and Jack London, Berry is from Oakland, a town that could pass for Baltimore in the second season of “The Wire” (the one with boats) and is known for its tough-as-nails point guards such as Lillard, Payton, Kidd, and London (“The Sea Wolf” would be a cool NBA nickname, or maybe “C-Wolf”). Like Lillard, Barry also played at Weber State, so the two can reminisce about doing beer bongs in Utah. He looks, in photos, like a very nice young man who should probably give up basketball already, since he is the wrong size, yet I can’t judge. I was pretty confused at 23, and maybe Barry could use basketball to live in Poland. The Blazers might sign him for the Idaho squad, because he can shoot, but Poland is better, Davion. Really.

CORBIN: A Webber State product who went undrafted this year. Statistics and height (Real GM lists Six-Four, DX suggests he is six-two and a alf without shoes) suggest a that he is a guard by trade. He doesn’t have a DraftExpress profile. Played at Cal State Monterey for two years before transferring to Webber.  Here is a highlight package. Probably got the slot because of his connection to Lillard, which is fine and the way things work.

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE: Had dreads when he was a younger man.

BRACKINS, CRAIG

CORBIN: WHO IS HE? A 26-Year old forward, height-ed Six-Ten. Drafted in the first round by OKC in 2010, then traded to the Sixers where he didn’t play much for two years. This makes him one of many people (see also Evan Turner) who thirst for Doug Collins’ sweet, sweet blood because he ruined their careers in some way or another. He deserved to lose that medal for the mid range shooting he enabled later in his life. Played in the D-League for a while, spent last year in the Polish League, doesn’t seem like he played so great or so much (1.9 rebounds a game, yeesh.). A man on a mission for a new European home.

JAMES: Craig Brackins, a largish man by any standard, played forward at Iowa State, where they helped invent computers and nuclear bombs (not while Brackins played there). He shot three-pointers better than the ostensible point guard Appling, at .292. He had a handful of games with the 76ers, did time in D-League, went to Israel, Italy, and Poland. The Polish city he played in sounds totally friggin’ awesome. His D-League minutes (yes, there are people who record such things) went down every year. So hopefully he likes Poland. I would.

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLEA rubber band on his leg.

BRYAN-AMANING, MATTHEW

WHO IS HE? CORBIN: A 26-year old, 6-9 British forward, whose mother was self-assured enough that she insisted on a hyphenate. Played college basketball at the University of Washington, the school the other author of this blog attended. In an interview conducted over Twitter dot com, Joe said that all he does is dunk off screen and roll action.  Was on Britain’s hilariously slapdash, Luol Dung led Olympic team. Last played in France, I think? 20-ish MPG, respectable numbers. Here is a highlight mix.

JAMES: Matthew Bryan-Amaning is from Surrey, England, and has two last names, meaning he certainly grew up on a diet of Roasted Peasant and stayed warm in his huge drafty castle by reading histories of the Punic Wars by fireside. He ended up playing in America after a tragic duel in which he wounded the future Earl Pearl-Monroe (who turned out to be his own illegitimate half-father) and to flee the estate. He went to college in Seattle, was undrafted (athletic, tall, can’t shoot, it’s not uncommon), D-Leagued it, then landed in Turkey, Serbia, and most recently France, where a team website lists his position as “Interieur” and says he “est un joueur actif tant en attaque qu’en défense” AKA not very good by NBA standards at anything, but probably an interesting chap, life-story wise. Just don’t use the wrong salad fork or say the queen should “sod off” in his presence.

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE: Polo with an undershirt, a Washington State staple if there ever was one

BROWN, BOBBY

WHO IS HE? CORBIN: My favorite basketball player ever.  A Six-Two, 29-Year old point guard coming off a stint with the Dongguan Leopard of the Chineese Basketball association. Cal Fullerton product. Played for four NBA teams between 2008-2010. Has he played in Summer League before? You’re goddamn right he has, he’s played in Summer League every year since 2007. This man is a Summer League animal. His job on the team will be to teach the young, non-NBA level guns, how to conduct themselves if they want to attract the attention of the Guangdong Hongyuan Southern Tigers.

JAMES: Bobby Brown was named after a vicious Frank Zappa song (not the vicious R&B singer) and is a living testament to how this undrafted-to-Europe-to-NBA thing sometimes, against all odds, can happen. He went from Cal State-Fullerton to Germany to four years in “The Show,” getting decent minutes for indecent teams. Then he restocked his SIM card and had bad stretches in Poland, Germany, and Italy, a good stretch in Greece, and scored 74 in a game for the Dongguan Leopards in southeast China. If you think I’m going to try and decipher his stats from that website, you think highly of my abilities and I thank you for this but you are wrong. He is a point guard who will be 30 by the time the NBA season begins and he will probably not be part of that season.

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE: An infectious smile!

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CARNEY, RODNEY

WHO IS HE? CORBIN: A 30-Year old, Six-Seven small forward. Played in the NBA from 2006-2011, was last on Sporting Al-Ryhad Beirut, like the Beirut in Lebanon. Here is a video of him dunking on Dwyane Wade.  He logged a 21.83 PER with Memphis in two games played in 2010-2011, which is pretty funny. He was kind of a crummy shooter in the NBA. Will be interesting to see if he has developed on that end to get back into the league. This is his first Summer League since 2007.

JAMES: Rodney Carney is the Crash Davis of Portland’s Summer League squad, drafted way back in 2006. Another wrong-sized guy, he had some success as a defender at the 2/3 for the Sixers, before getting traded to Minnesota, the kiss of death for any NBA career. After a few more seasons bouncing around the NBA, he actually wound up in Beirut (that had to be deflating, but fascinating), and has the single most depressing Wikipedia user edit I’ve ever seen:

“On May 28, 2014, he was played for Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters as an import replacement for Othyus Jeffers who had a problem on his NBA contract. Carney first game as an import for the texters was not easy due to not enough rest for almost 24 hours He scored 13 points . But On his Second Game Against San Miguel Beermen (Philippines) He Scored 28 points and 9 rebounds . And They Win Over the San Miguel Beermen (Philippines)”

There’s more about the Talk ’N Text Tropang Texters on Wikipedia. A lot more. All written, I suspect, by the same really enthusiastic aide for the team owner (his page is huge, too.) Or simply by a Filipino basketball fan who could put your meager Blazer fandom to shame. TO SHAME.

To sum up, Rodney Carney IS Crash Davis. He’s seen it all, man. If you have a chance in Vegas, meet this person. And convince him to start writing his book.

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE: Modest facial hair.

GIBSON, JONATHAN

WHO IS HE? JAMES: Jonathan Gibson graduated from New Mexco State in 2010, and since then has the world tour down to a science, whirlwinding it through China, Italy, Israel, Iran and Turkey (Turkey being the toughest international league, according to Jonathan Gibson) In college he majored in General Business, a first for any athlete anywhere. He grew up in West Covina, CA, part of the indeterminate Los Angeles megapolis. So we know he can drive a car. But can he drive the lane? Flourish as a creative passer? Well, these too are skills one learns driving LA freeways, so I’m hazarding the answer is “yes.” In regards to NBA basketball, most likely “no.”

CORBIN: 26, Guard, Six-two. Played college ball at New Mexico State. Scored… HOLY SHIT 32.46 POINTS PER GAME for the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association last year. (That team also featured FORMER BLAZER LEGEND Chris Johnson, out there snatchin 11.39 rebounds per game.That’s American power, flexing its mighty muscles in China.) Will his INSANE SCORING PROWESS translate to the NBA Summer League? Watch and find out!

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE: Points, he scores so many of them that he just wears them on his body. So many goddamn points, guys.

 

  • Rob O’Keefe

    One of the dumbest articles I’ve ever read, can I get my time back? Appling didn’t shoot 28.3% from 3 last season, for example, he shot 36.2%. He didn’t average 3.3 assists, he averaged 4.5, etc…
    But hey, just make stuff up since nobody reads it anyway, right? Kind of like how Michigan State is located in Vermont, right? I get it, you took the assist number from the wrong season, the year before. And you still completely made up the 3-pt. shooting…
    Colossal fail. Incompetence, or just intentionally being dishonest and making up stats. Which is it?