Rodney Hood answered the easy question with his smooth, left-handed jumper the first time he touched the ball.
The Trail Blazers newest addition is going to fit in just fine.
Hood had 14 points in his Portland debut, helping the Blazers beat the San Antonio Spurs 127-118 by hitting six of seven shots in 25 minutes off the bench.
“He was good,” CJ McCollum said. “He was efficient, he was sharp, got to his spots, looked very comfortable and kind of showed some versatility that we expected him to have.”
The harder questions come next as Terry Stotts tries to reconfigure his rotation to fit in Hood.
Stotts used 11 players against the Spurs. Hood, Evan Turner, Jake Layman, Meyers Leonard and Seth Curry made up the bench unit in the first half. But Curry played just seven total minutes and didn’t get off the bench after halftime. Then in the third quarter, Zach Collins got seven spot minutes at backup center minutes, supplanting Leonard.
The Blazers bench has been a key to their success so far this season, and Hood should only add to that dynamic even if he disrupts the status quo.
“We kind of had a rhythm to what we were doing and that rhythm has been broken and everybody’s going to have to be patient (and) figure it out,” Stotts said. “One night it’s going to be one thing and maybe the next night it won’t. That’s just the way it’s going to be … until it changes.”
Prior to the trade that brought Hood to Portland, Stotts had settled into a 10-man rotation, juggling 11 guys through various lineups is impossible and certainly won’t happen on most nights. Hood is going to play, meaning someone on the back end of the rotation is going to get pinched. Before Thursday’s game Stotts spoke to some of the Blazers players individually about the impending roster crunch.
“Coach has done a great job communicating with us to stay patient with it,” Jake Layman said “Lineups might change game in and game out for a little but, but just to stay ready and stay patient.”
“I think we’re all smart enough to see where (Hood) could fit in,” Damian Lillard added. “It’s as simple as that. I think being professionals we can figure things out. We can say, ‘Okay he can probably play with this group and play this many minutes and he can do this for us.’ And then you see what coach does and then you go from there.”
Against San Antonio, Curry and Collins felt the crunch of the Blazers’ new-look rotation. Eventually the numbers game might cost Moe Harkless, Jake Layman or Evan Turner some playing time.
In his first 25 minutes in a Blazers uniform, Hood proved that he belongs on the court. The question for Stotts is which of Hood’s new teammates belong out there with him.
“Honestly, it’s going to be a challenge for everybody,” Stotts said. “It’s going to be a challenge for me. It’s going to be a challenge for the team.”