Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 11/13/14
First Impressions?

The 2012 Las Vegas Summer League is officially behind fans in Rip City, and the Portland Trail Blazers showed us a few things throughout their five games this past week.

5) Damian Lillard Is A Dynamic Scorer

Damian Lillard’s 26.5-point-per-game average showed us exactly what we already knew heading into the Las Vegas Summer League—the kid is a flat-out scorer.

Questions about his collegiate competition are valid, but his diverse skill set and incredible motor should propel him to success despite being a rookie next season. Yes, it’s just Summer League, so take it with a grain of salt—even Jerryd Bayless won the Vegas Summer League MVP before he fizzled out of Portland.

That being said, Lillard did more than simply score with his athleticism.

Damian Lillard provided one of the most memorable moments in Summer League with this slam.

When Jerryd Bayless won Summer League MVP back in 2008, his game consisted primarily of attacking the basket and finishing around and over lesser competition.

We certainly saw some of that from Lillard, but his high basketball IQ and deep-range jump shot were the ultimate weapons when it came to getting good looks in the five games this past week.

4) Meyers Leonard Is A Project Worth Taking On

Meyers Leonard has some things to work on, but he showed a lot of potential during the Las Vegas Summer League.

His offensive game is raw—although he showed he can score from the mid-range—and he was occasionally outperformed on the glass, but the effort was there and he had a big impact on the defensive end of the floor.

Consistently the tallest player on the court, Leonard played athletically and seemingly never gave up on a single play throughout the week. If the team can find a starter to relieve Leonard of high expectations next season, it’s going to be for the best.

If they can’t, they know they have a competent big man who can step in and do the right things as he continues to improve his game moving forward.

3) Will Barton (And The Rest Of The Young Roster) Should Be Fun To Watch

Summer League play is full of sloppy, fast-break basketball, but in such fast-paced games, you’re bound to see a compilation of highlight-reel plays.

Will Barton wasn’t fantastic in every game, but he showed flashes of high production and moments of extreme entertainment. His scoring outputs, shooting ability and above-the-rim plays made for a lot of excitement toward the end of the week.

The same thing can be said for a majority of the team’s young prospects.

Lillard and Meyers clearly showed promise, as the two of them connected multiple times in the two-man game. Nolan Smith—before he got hurt—was playing at a very high level and showed that he has the potential to find space within the rotation next season.

Whether or not the Trail Blazers compete next year with the top competition out West is debatable, but regardless, the young squad that takes the court at the Rose Garden is going to be exciting to watch.

Meyers Leonard will be fun to watch in a Blazers uniform.

2) Damian Lillard Is A Better Passer Than He Gets Credit For

Lillard is a scorer; we all know that at this point.

But what some didn’t know is that he can find his teammates on a regular basis. Whether it be in fast breaks, half-court curls or pick-and-roll situations, Lillard rarely showed any signs of selfishness when it came to his performance in the Las Vegas Summer League.

This is another big thing that separates him from Bayless.

Lillard is not your cliché point guard in a shooting guard’s body; he’s a point guard who can score, as he proved he can find his teammates and run an offense this past week.

His assist numbers aren’t sky high at this point, but 5.3 through four games is a decent mark compared to Bayless’ 1.3 assists in 2008.

1) Kaleb Canales Is A Good Coach For A Young Roster

Late in the 2011-12 season, we saw the passion and devotion that Kaleb Canales put on display when grooming a young NBA roster. This past week in Las Vegas we saw it once again, as the team went 4-1 in Summer League competition.

Canales may not have the experience of a Mike D’Antoni or the reputation of a Brian Shaw, but he certainly has fervor for success and the ability to get the most out of a young group of prospects.

Does this mean Canales will be the head coach come next season?

Maybe, maybe not.

What it means is that if Canales is chosen to fill the vacant coaching position, he’ll be a fantastic influence in such a young locker room.


© Bryant Knox for North West Sports Beat, 2012. | Permalink | No comment |

Follow NWSB on Twitter or join US on Facebook for real-time updates OR... | Share This on Twitter | Share NWSportsBeat.com on Facebook

Post tags: 2011-12 nba season, 2012 Trail Blazers, 2012-13 nba season, Brian Shaw, Damian Lillard, Jerryd Bayless, Kaleb Canales, Las Vegas, las vegas summer league, Meyers Leonard, Mike D'Antoni, NBA, Nolan Smith, Portland Trail Blazers, Portland Trail Blazers Blog, RIP City, Rip City Blazers Blog, Summer League, will barton

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WATCH: Blatt has special message for LeBron

Shaq once threatened to murder Kobe Bryant

Bryce Harper: Mike Trout is the best player in baseball

Report: Wilson skipped OTAs to attend funeral with Graham

Antonio Brown on contract: 'I've got enough' money


Kaepernick posts insensitive joke about Houston floods

50 Cent’s boxing company files for bankruptcy

Rangers-Lightning Game 6: Prediction for elimination game

Phillies GM says team's fans 'don't understand the game’

Adrian Peterson reportedly has considered retirement

Report: Bulls could cheat Tom Thibodeau out of coaching jobs

FIFA officials arrested, to be extradited to US for corruption

WATCH: LeBron throws down huge dunk from inside FT line

Nick Saban says he caught 6-foot, 180-pound fish

WATCH: Vin Scully tells story about Gomes being attacked by wolf

WATCH: Kris Bryant launches home run off scoreboard

Transfer rumors: Drogba, Pirlo and Gomez linked to MLS

Robinson Cano's slump: The good news, the bad news

Joe Maddon unhappy over Cubs’ ‘awkward schedule’

Buck Showalter takes shot at Marlins over management

UGA wants SEC to ban transfers with 'serious misconduct' issues

Cavs' Kevin Love cleared to travel with team

Four crazy stats from the NBA Playoffs thus far

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Transfer rumors: Drogba, Pirlo and Gomez linked to MLS

Cano's slump: The good news, bad news

Disappointments of the MLB season

UGA wants SEC to ban transfers with misconduct issues

Long's great reaction to Bears releasing McDonald

Crazy stats from the NBA Playoffs

WATCH: Curry leaves game after nasty fall

Royals' Guthrie sets records in blowout

Bears cut McDonald after incident

Report: Pierce could opt out of contract

The Talented Mr. Blatt

Is Dellavedova a dirty player?

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.