The Trail Blazers won’t make their final roster cuts for another 7-to-10 days, but it’s hard not to think Anthony Morrow made the team Thursday night after his preseason performance against Toronto.
The 32-year-old shooting guard, who has made a nine-year NBA career out of being a sharp-shooting specialist, lived up to his reputation Thursday when he made 4-of-5 three-pointers in an eight-minute span of the Blazers’ 106-101 victory.
For a Blazers team that is lacking veterans and is wondering how it will replace Allen Crabbe’s long-range shooting, Morrow is looking like the perfect fit.
“That’s a skill that is always going to be needed,’’ Damian Lillard said. “It just shows why he is still around: He can shoot the ball.’’
Morrow is competing for the 15th and final roster spot with rookie point guard Isaiah Briscoe and former first-round pick Archie Goodwin.
The Blazers don’t need a fourth point guard, and it seemed from the start that the competition for the 15th spot would be decided either by Goodwin’s potential or Morrow’s ability to shoot.
There are still four preseason games left, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if Neil Olshey wasn’t drafting up a contract late Tuesday night.
“Obviously, it helps,’’ coach Terry Stotts said when asked whether Morrow’s Tuesday performance solidified his chances of making the team. “But as I’ve said before, we will talk about him making the team – or whoever – we will talk about the 15th spot in a week in a half or two.’’
One thing is certain: Morrow wants to be in Portland, and not just because it would extend a career that has passed through Golden State, New Jersey, New Orleans, Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago and Oklahoma City. He says this group of Blazers have created the most enjoyable of the 10 training camps he has attended, and he says the Blazers’ offensive system is made for him, and reminds him of his time in Golden State, which included the 2008-2009 season, when he led the NBA with a 46.7 three-point shooting percentage.
“I thank God that they reached out to me in summertime. I knew that offense is pretty much tailor made for me, and the way I play,’’ Morrow said. “(Shooting) is what I do, and that’s what I’ve been doing the last nine years and that’s something they said they needed and wanted to give me an opportunity. So I just want to take advantage of it.’’
Morrow has been around so long that Lillard said he can remember as a high schooler going to watch the Warriors play, and seeing Morrow establish a then-career high. And Stotts said he was in the gym at the Las Vegas Summer League when Morrow scored a record 47 points.
However, a long career will inevitably raise questions. Does Morrow still have the shooting touch at age 32?
That question, players say, has been answered. Emphatically.
“I think the first day of camp, I don’t know if he missed a shot,’’ CJ McCollum said. “When he is open, he usually makes it. You can just see every shot he shoots looks good. He’s a shot maker, and that’s something we need.’’
The Blazers are also finding out that Morrow is a stand-up professional, a good guy who fits their work-hard, team-first culture.
“You know just from being around him he is a professional,’’ Lillard said. “Obviously, when he came we knew this guy is a shooter. He makes shots and we’ve seen it in practice everyday – when he shoots it and gets it off, it’s going in.
“He has an elite skill that everybody doesn’t have. Every team needs shooting, especially with us losing A.C … knowing you can rely on him, the attitude he has had … it’s a pleasure to have that kind of weapon.’’
Today's Blazers Links:
NBCS Northwest's Dwight Jaynes has some high praise for Caleb Swanigan.
Orlando Williams breaks down the heady passing from Swanigan.
The Oregonian's Joe Freeman asks how the Blazers will replace Allen Crabbe?
In case you haven't heard, Damian Lillard dropped his second album on Friday.