Has anyone been watching the Portland Trail Blazers Summer League? While I was scouring team rosters for former Spurs, I came across the strangest concoction of players to see Vegas action.
The Trail Blazers had no draft picks this summer but did trade a 2026 second round pick and cash to acquire Greg Brown III, the New Orleans Pelicans draftee at #43. He’s on the Summer League roster. He’s also the team’s youngest at age 19.
Portland also has Trenton Watford, an undrafted 2021 player who is now one of their two-way contracts for the upcoming season. They also added Mark Vital, an undrafted swingman from Baylor. Vital is 23, not strange for a college graduate, but an oddity in his being one of the youngest players on the roster.
Eight of the twelve players on the Portland Trail Blazers roster range in age from 24 to 32.
Michael Beasley, 32, was drafted 2nd overall in 2008 by the Miami Heat. He played three stints with the Heat as well as the Minnesota Timberwolves, Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets, Milwaukee Bucks, Knicks, Lakers, and was prepared to end last season with the Nets before testing positive for COVID-19.
Beasley’s also joined teams in the Chinese Basketball Association on three different occasions earning himself a championship in 2019. His fall from 2nd pick of the draft to Summer League hopeful may be the biggest drop since Anthony Bennett went into the G-League. but Beasley is aggressive and has style. Some time keeping up with the youngsters may get him noticed and back into league action.
Kenneth Faried, 31, was drafted in 2011 in the 22nd spot by the Denver Nuggets where he played his first six seasons. Injury stunted his career and he has been out since 2019. Faried is one of many seasoned players hoping to make a comeback.
Faried’s former teammate, Emmanuel Mudiay, seems like a strange option for summer league as he completed the last season with the Utah Jazz. Mudiay, chosen 7th overall in the 2015 NBA Draft, spent his first three seasons with the Nuggets. He then had his best scoring season as a starter in New York two years ago. Last season, he went to Utah to shadow Mike Conley and to get playoff experience. Mudiay accomplished both and is now with Portland hoping to land a spot next season.
The rest of the roster is stacked with aging players who have little NBA experience. A trio of twenty-seven-year-old players with one NBA season (George King, Milton Doyle, and Erik McCree) are teamed up with Kobi Simmons and Antonio Blakeney (both 24).
One “reclamation” player on a Summer League squad, and few bat an eye. A couple may slip through. But nearly an entire team of post-collegiate aged players in a league seeing an increasing number of late teens and early twenties making the leap makes one ask —
What do the Portland Trail Blazers know that the rest of the NBA does not?
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