There has been a lot of discussion amongst fans this season about the lack of depth on the Portland Trail Blazers bench. There is no denying that the Blazers are not a deep team and that they lack the needed talent to seriously contend for a championship this season. With that said, the silver lining to this problem is that young players like Will Barton are getting opportunities to play valuable minutes.
By no means is Will Barton having a season like his fellow rookie teammate Damian Lillard. However, in spurts and especially of late Barton has been a solid contributor off the bench. Against the Pacers and then in the back to back games verses the Clippers, Barton averaged 17 minutes, 7 points per game, almost a block each contest, and just over 3 rebounds per game.
Barton is a high energy player that seems to have a lot of upside, but needs a little polish. He has a good sense about getting to the bucket. He knows how to score and is seemingly willing to scrap for rebounds. There are times though that his play makes Blazers’ Coach Terry Stotts look down at the hardwood and shake his head.
One noticeable tendency that could use some refinement is Barton’s propensity to after grabbing a defensive rebound to go end to end and shoot the ball without looking to set up the offense or pass to open teammates. It seems nearly every time he does this he gets caught in the paint without a clean shot and either turns the ball over or puts up an ill-fated shot attempt. This isn’t the sign of a bad player, but an aggressive rookie that needs time on the court to cultivate his game.
Getting minutes in a season like this one, allows Barton to gain experience and confidence and the Blazers to find out what they have in their second round pick out of Memphis. Barton was named Conference USA Player of the year during his sophomore season after averaging 18 points and 8 rebounds per game. He entered the 2012 draft after forgoing his last two years of eligibility at Memphis.
If the past is any indication of what the future holds it is realistic to think Barton should blossom into a solid player who can perform at shooting guard, small forward or even occasional minutes at the point guard position. His contributions may not be consistent in the present, but his minutes on the court this season should enable Barton to be a leader off the bench in the near future.