Handing out grades for the Blazers at Summer League

USA Today

Handing out grades for the Blazers at Summer League

The Trail Blazers failed to repeat as summer league champions last week, finishing with a 2-3 record as the MGM Resorts Summer League. Of the 14 players on the summer league roster, only four were actually under contract with Portland: Anfernee Simons, Gary Trent Jr., Nassir Little, and Jaylen Hoard (two-way contract). 

How did those four do? Let's grade them!

Anfernee Simons - Grade: B
Simons had a great summer league showing, but it was unfortunately cut short by an ankle injury. Simons played in just three games, averaging 22 points in those games. His performance in Las Vegas earned him All-NBA Summer League Second-Team honors. However, I don't know if Simons showed the true jump we all wanted him to. Sure, he lit up the scoreboard, but we knew he could do that. Blazers fans really wanted to see how he ran the offense. In that regard, he still has a little work to do. He averaged just 1.7 assists, which is far lower than you want from your point guard.  Once his vision and control catch up to his scoring prowess, Simons will be a force. His biggest weakness is still on the defensive side of the ball, and Summer League showed he has a lot of work to do. All-in-all, it was a great three games for Simons, but he still has some holes to fill.

Gary Trent - Grade: B+
Trent Jr. gets a slightly higher grade than Simons simply because of expectations. We already knew what we had with Simons. He showed it in the final game of the regular season against the Kings. With Trent Jr., we really wanted to see that second-year jump. Trent was a force for the Blazers in five games in Las Vegas. He averaged 20.6 points per game and led the team in rebounds, assists, and steals per game at 6.4, 2.6, and 1.4 respectively. He shot just 41% from the floor, which is far lower than the team wants from him, but boy his he a gunner. He has no fear and no hesitation when it comes to taking a shot. Give him the smallest of windows and he will jack it up. Like Simons, he needs to improve on the defensive end, but again, it was a pretty strong performance all-around. 

Nassir Little - Grade: D
Let's start off by first saying that the ceiling is very high for Little. He is an explosive athlete with the potential to change the game on both ends. However, right now he is as raw as they come. He averaged just 3.3 points in four games, which was the fifth-lowest PPG average on the team, and shot a poor 33% from the floor. Of players that averaged 15 or more minutes per game, he had the lowest PPG average. He often looked a step behind on both ends of the floor, struggling to get in the proper spots. For a player that was a projected lottery pick, you would have hoped to have seen better. However, when he did make the right play, it was electric. The kid has bounce and showed it off numerous times with some monster jams. What keeps this from being an F grade is his ability to push the tempo. What I really liked about his game was when he would grab the defensive rebound and quickly push the ball up the floor. It was Draymond Green-esque in that regard. If he can develop quickly and excel in this aspect, he could really change the offensive approach for the Blazers. Just imagine Little pushing the ball, playing point-forward, and finding McCollum and Lillard on the break! The future is still bright with Little, but his summer league was gloomy. 

Jaylen Hoard - Grade: C+
Hoard was the Blazer I was most impressed by in Las Vegas. He wasn't the best player on the floor, but for an undrafted rookie he looked solid. He had a good feel for the game, was in the right place at the right time, and never really forced the issue. He seemed to have a pretty good mind for the game. He is on a two-way contract and outperformed Little, the Blazers' first-round pick. He averaged 8.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.2 assists in five games. 
He didn't do anything exceptionally great, but he didn't do anything exceptionally poor either. While I don't think his ceiling is as high as Little's, he is much more polished as it stands right now. As a two-way player, I find him to be very intriguing. The Blazers have two roster spots open right now. If the Blazers feel they need help as SF/PF as the season progresses and can't find a guy on the open market, Hoard could be a candidate to get the full-time call-up. He still has learning to do, but the foundation is there. He reminds me a lot of Al-Farouq Aminu, but with better ball-handling skills. I'll take that on a rookie contract all day long. 

Everything you need to know about new Trail Blazer Jaylen Hoard…. Off the court

Everything you need to know about new Trail Blazer Jaylen Hoard…. Off the court

BIRTH NAME: Jaylen Hoard

BIRTHDAY: March 30th, 1999

AGE: 20


Before Fame

Hoard was born in Le Havre, France.

He played for the club Centre Fédéral de Basketball before moving to the U.S. for high school to play basketball for Wesleyan Christian Academy in High Point, North Carolina.

Fun Fact

Hoard’s Godmother, Edwige Lawson-Wade, played in the WNBA and was a member of France's 2012 Olympic Silver Medal team.

It runs in the family

Hoard’s father, Antwon Hoard, played basketball in France's LNB Pro A league. His mother, Katia Foucade, played college basketball at Washington and also played for the French national team.

His younger sister Anaia, who is one of four siblings, has played for France's under-17 team.

A Connection to Chief

Jaylen Hoard is just the third five-star recruit in program history for the Demon Deacons after Chris Paul and former Trail Blazer Al-Farouq Aminu who also played in Winston-Salem.

No Stranger To Portland

Hoard has yet to put on a Blazers jersey, but it is very familiar with PDX. He played in the 2018 Nike Hoop Summit at Moda Center. He also got accustomed to the Trail Blazers practice facility.

Check out a full interview of Jaylen Hoard from the Hoop Summit via Jonathan Givony and Matt McGann of Draft Express:

Taking Responsibility

Even as a freshman in college, Hoard was making sure to take ownership of his team’s mistakes.

According to the Winston-Salem Journal, after a 65-61 loss to Boston College in late January this year, Hoard was taking responsibility.

“We have to be accountable,” Hoard said. “We need to make sure when we’re making a mistake, we’re not pointing fingers. We have to really own up to our mistakes and actually like, work to fix them, not just talk about it, not just say, ‘Oh, we’re going to do better’ in everything, we actually have to do it.

Hoard had 22 points and 10 rebounds and was the only Deacon in double-figure scoring in the loss.

Everything you need to know about new Trail Blazer Mario Hezonja… Off the court

Everything you need to know about new Trail Blazer Mario Hezonja… Off the court

BIRTH NAME: Mario Hezonja

BIRTHDAY: February 25th, 1995

AGE: 24


Before Fame

Hezonja began playing basketball for Dubrovnik at the age of 13. He later signed with the Croatian team Zagreb, with whom he won the Euroleague Basketball Nike International Junior Tournament.

Fun Fact

The number one song on Billboard 100 was "Take A Bow" by Madonna the day Hezonja was born.


‘The Beast’

‘Super Mario’

No Thanks To College Offer

Hezonja had a scholarship offer from Coach John Calipari to play at Kentucky. Could you imagine what Kentucky’s team would’ve been like with the addition of Hezonja during the 2014-15 season? He would have been paired with Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Devin Booker, and Trey Lyles. But, Hezonja had set his sights on the NBA.

Strong Portland Connection

As the Trail Blazers get ready for the 2019-20 season, younger Blazer fans should know –

Hezonja is going to wear No. 44 this season, a tribute to Croatian great and former Trail Blazer and Hall of Famer Drazen Petrovic.

Petrovic wore No. 44 in Portland. Drazen's brother, Aleksandar, coached Hezonja on their country’s national team.

“Obviously the greatest European player of all time,” Hezonja said during his introductory news conference with the Blazers. “It’s out of respect to him. The journey continues in his name right now. I’m glad I’m the leader of the journey right now. Carrying my entire country with it.”

Hezonja’s passing skills were modeled after Petrovic.

Just for fun here’s a throwback video to some of Petrovic’s career highlights:

The Mario GOAT Meme

Last season, Hezonja found himself on a meme that quickly went viral.

March 17th’s one-point victory over the Lakers was no ordinary game for the Knicks and for Hezonja.

The New York Knicks forward — who yes also dunked on Giannis Antetokounmpo and then stepped over the Greek Freak last December — had blocked LeBron James’ game-winner attempt in that win over the Lakers.

This photo was snapped after Hezonja committed a foul on King James earlier in the contest, so it’s not the photo of him blocking the LeBron’s game winner, however, it’s kind of a perfect summary of that night.

This is definitely a photo all Trail Blazer fans can get behind.

Best Advice As A Rookie

According to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel, some of the best advice Hezonja received during his rookie season with the Magic came from former NBA player and a legend in the European basketball world, Peja Stojakovic.

Stojakovic offered this advice: 'Just shut up and work.'

"We talked about the transition," Hezonja said. "You know how the older guys are: 'Just shut up and work.' That's the best advice from everybody. So that's what I'm doing."

CJ McCollum elected to Roger S. Penske/Lehigh Athletics Hall of Fame

CJ McCollum elected to Roger S. Penske/Lehigh Athletics Hall of Fame

Lehigh University Athletics has announced the 2019 distinguished class of elected candidates that will be inducted into the Roger S. Penske/Lehigh Athletics Hall.

Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum is among the five inductees.

The Roger S. Penske/Lehigh Athletics Hall of Fame currently includes 100 members across 25 sports.

McCollum joins Lehigh standouts Matt McBride '07 from baseball, Lisa (Sweeney) Van Ackeren '09 from softball; along with former coaches Muffet McGraw (Women's Basketball), and Chris Marshall '88 (Swimming and Diving). 

The official induction ceremony will take place on Friday evening, September 27th.

According to Lehigh, McCollum and McGraw will have their formal induction ceremonies at a different date when they are able to attend.

McCollum is considered the most accomplished student-athlete to pass through Lehigh's men's basketball program.

Here is a quick list of McCollum’s accomplishments at Lehigh:

-- Graduated as the Patriot League's all-time leading scorer

-- Ranks second on Lehigh's career scoring list

-- Two-time Patriot League Player of the Year

-- Led the Mountain Hawks to Patriot League titles in 2009-10 and 2011-12

-- Scored a game-high 30 points in the memorable upset of No. 15 seed Lehigh defeating No. 2 seed Duke 75-70 in the second round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament

-- Three-time first team All-Patriot League honoree

-- All-Patriot Rookie of the Year in 2010 (Also, Player of the Year)

After the Trail Blazers selected McCollum 10th overall in the 2013 NBA Draft, McCollum became Lehigh's first-ever NBA draft pick.

Lehigh’s Hall of Fame is located in Taylor Gymnasium and is named in honor of Roger S. Penske, class of '59.

Inductees for the Hall of Fame are determined by a selection committee based on nominations and detailed research on criteria of the nominees “charter and founding membership.”

Potential candidates are eligible for nomination at any time after five years of receiving his or her bachelor's degree.

Everything you need to know about new Trail Blazer Pau Gasol… Off the court

Everything you need to know about new Trail Blazer Pau Gasol… Off the court

BIRTH NAME: Pau Gasol Sáez

BIRTHDAY: July 6th, 1980

AGE: 39


Before Fame

Right before Gasol’s basketball career took off, he enrolled in medical school at the University of Barcelona. Being such a big NBA fan growing up, Gasol wanted to find a cure for AIDS when Magic Johnson revealed to the world in 1991 that he was HIV positive.

Pau left medical school early when his basketball career with FC Barcelona began to flourish.

Fun Facts

Pau’s jersey was the 14th best seller in the NBA during the 2009–10 season.

He speaks English, Spanish and Catalan.

Pau’s first sport was rugby.

Medical studies run in the family

In a 2009 interview, posted on the Lakers official website, Gasol discussed what life was like growing up with his mother being a physician and his father a hospital administrator.

Interview Question: “Was education emphasized before sports as you grew up?”

Gasol: “Yes, it was always ‘Do your work before you play.’ They wanted me to keep my options open, to make sure studying was a big priority over basketball because you’re not sure that sports will work out. So I stayed in school as long as I could and should have even though it was hard my first and last years in college to do both medical school and professional basketball.”

Visiting LA’s Children's Hospital

During his time with the Lakers, Pau would spend a lot of his time at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

The kids at the Children's Hospital would light up when Pau would visit.

UNICEF Foundation:

UNICEF works in over 190 countries and territories “to save children’s lives, to defend their rights, and to help them fulfill their potential, from early childhood through adolescence.”

Pau has been a big part of this organization for years.

He had been UNICEF’s Spain Ambassador since 2003. Just this past July, Pau was appointed as a Global Champion for Nutrition and Zero Childhood Obesity by UNICEF.

In his new role, he will help UNICEF “tackle childhood obesity and malnutrition-related issues to ensure all children can reach their full potential.”

Wedding Date

Gasol and his wife Catherine tied the knot in July 2019.

Gasol impersonator for hire

In 2011 Michael Fanter was trying to burst onto the scene.

Fanter was a guy who kind of made a name for himself by sort of kind of looking like Pau Gasol; and thus, he would make appearances at parties and events.

According to a 2011 Deadspin article, Fanter was charging $1,500 for appearances.

No Stranger To Old Man Jokes These Days

Last November, Gasol’s teammate Marco Belinelli had some fun at his expense.

While with San Antonio, Pau had been dealing with left foot soreness.  

Belinelli couldn’t help himself, and decided to poke fun at Pau getting older.

Belinelli posted a photo on his Instagram story of a skeleton's ankle from the team's practice facility. Belinelli proceeded to jokingly remind Gasol to retrieve his ankle.

Trail Blazers finalize 2019 training camp roster

Trail Blazers finalize 2019 training camp roster

With three new additions to the roster, the Portland Trail Blazers have finalized their training camp squad.  

Trail Blazers President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey announced on Thursday that the Blazers have signed center Moses Brown, guard Troy Caupain and guard London Perrantes to training camp contracts.

Portland will tip-off its 50th training camp on Monday, September 30th with Media Day at Moda Center. The team’s first practice is set for Tuesday, October 1st.

Brown, 19, played in 32 games (31 starts) his freshman 2018-19 season at UCLA. Brown went undrafted in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Caupain, 23, appeared in four games for the Orlando Magic in 2018-19 as a two-way contract player. Caupain went undrafted in 2017 out of Cincinnati.

Perrantes, 24, played in 2018-19 for Limoges CSP and Cholet Basket in the French Pro A League. After going undrafted in 2017, he signed a two-way contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers.









Prior to NBA/Home Country


Kent Bazemore


6' 5"




Old Dominion/USA


Moses Brown


7' 1"






Troy Caupain


6' 4"






Zach Collins


7' 0"






Pau Gasol


7' 0"




FC Barcelona/Spain


Mario Hezonja


6' 8"




FC Barcelona/Spain


Jaylen Hoard


6' 9"




Wake Forest/France


Rodney Hood


6' 8"






Skal Labissiere


6' 11"






Damian Lillard


6' 3"




Weber State/USA


Nassir Little


6' 6"




North Carolina/USA


CJ McCollum


6' 3"






Jusuf Nurkić


7' 0"




Cedevita Zagreb/Bosnia Herzegovina


London Perrantes


6' 2"






Anfernee Simons


6' 4"




IMG Academy/USA


Anthony Tolliver


6' 8"






Gary Trent Jr.


6' 6"






Hassan Whiteside


7' 1"





Hassan Whiteside sees his Blazers locker for the very first time

Hassan Whiteside sees his Blazers locker for the very first time

There are many “firsts” that Hassan Whiteside is going through right now.

This is the 7-foot, 265-pound center’s first time living in Portland; first time experiencing Voodoo Donuts and the I-5 traffic; and first time seeing a waterfall (Silver Falls to be precise). Yesterday was another first that hit Whiteside at a whole new level: seeing his name above his locker in the Blazers locker room at Moda Center. A locker that sits just feet away from Damian Lillard. 

On Wednesday at NBC Sports Northwest’s Chalk Talk, Whiteside sat on a panel for a Q&A session with Dan Sheldon, Dwight Jaynes, Michael Holton and Brian Noe.

“I think you guys will really enjoy the blocks, the dunks, the rebounds, me flex’n...” says Whiteside. “As far as the team, I definitely want to increase on the record from last year. This is potentially the best team I’ve ever played on talent wise and it’s not many times you get the opportunity you get a real shot at winning the championship. So as a team, I just want to be that defensive anchor and just bring as much as I can to the team."

Following the interview, Whiteside then proceeded to lay eyes on his locker for the very first time. 

Since the day Whiteside was traded to Portland, it's no secret that he is excited to be here and seeing his name above his locker makes it all so real. 

Trail Blazers sign two more players to training camp contracts

Trail Blazers sign two more players to training camp contracts

The Portland Trail Blazers continue to round out their training camp roster. A few days ago reports were out that they added UCLA big man Moses Brown and it appears today they have added two more players in Troy Caupain and London Perrantes.

The "Exhibit 10" mention references a new element from the latest CBA.

Luke Adams describes the new clause as, "Exhibit 10 contracts are one-year deals worth the minimum salary. They don’t come with any compensation protection, but can include an optional bonus ranging from $5K to $50K."

Caupain went undrafted in 2017 NBA Draft and spent time in the G-League after bouncing around from Raptors (Summer League) to Orlando (Training Camp). In 2018 he signed to play professionally in Italy. Later during the '18-'19 NBA season he was on a two-way contract with Orlando and spent more time in the G-League. 

Perrantes also went undrafted in 2017 and moved between Miami, San Antonio, and Cleveland at various lower levels. After being waived in the summer of 2018 he played oversees in France and then landed on the 2019 Pelicans Summer League Team. 

Keep it locked here at NBC Sports Northwest for all your training camp updates and full coverage of the Trail Blazers from Insider Dwight Jaynes and reporter Jamie Hudson

Fan Fest set for October 6th on NBC Sports Northwest

USA Today Images

Fan Fest set for October 6th on NBC Sports Northwest

Trail Blazers fans are in countdown mode!

The 15th annual Trail Blazers Fan Fest, which is presented by Toyota and Spirit Mountain Casino this season, is set for Sunday, October 6th.

To help tip-off the Trail Blazers 50th Anniversary Season, this year’s Fan Fest will be held at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

You can catch all the action of Fan Fest on the Official Network of the Portland Trail Blazers, NBC Sports Northwest.

The intra-squad scrimmage has become a fun tradition to offer fans a first look at the Trail Blazers roster.

Just like in years past, this is a free event featuring first-come, first-served general admission seating.

Doors will open at 4 p.m. Fans can download their free digital tickets online at trailblazers.com/fanfest.

This will be first opportunity to catch Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum return to the court following Porltand’s run to the Western Conference Finals. It’s also fans first chance to see Kent Bazemore, Hassan Whiteside, Mario Hezonja, Anthony Tolliver and Pau Gasol in a Trail Blazers uniform.

The intra-squad action will include four quarters of competition.

Everything you need to know about new Trail Blazer Kent Bazemore... Off the court

Everything you need to know about new Trail Blazer Kent Bazemore... Off the court

BIRTH NAME: Kenneth Lamont Bazemore

BIRTHDAY: July 1st, 1989

AGE: 30


Before Fame

A native of Kelford, N.C.

Bazemore won the Lefty Driesell Award for best collegiate defensive player during his junior year at Old Dominion University.

Has his number has been retired at Old Dominion (No. 24)

Graduated with two degrees – Human Services and Criminal Justice

Bazemore was a proud member of the “Pi Kappa Alpha” fraternity at Old Dominion.

Fun Fact

Bazemore played a HUGE role with Under Armour endorsing Stephen Curry when he was on the Warriors.

Endured Rookie Hazing

In April of 2013 several Golden State Warriors veterans had some some fun at the expense of rookie Kent Bazemore. The vets decided to fill Bazemore’s car with popcorn. Richard Jefferson seemed to be the leader of the prank. 

The Kent Bazemore App

In November of 2014, Bazemore launched is own app for Apple and Android users.

Bazemore’s app featured his statistics, a fantasy tracker, video highlights, team schedule, chat opportunities, social media links and even contests. The app is no longer available.

But here was a quick Youtube tutorial on how to use Bazemore’s app.

At the time, Bazemore was the third NBA player to have his own app. The other two -- LeBron James and Brandon Jennings.

Founder of Arms Foundation

Bazemore started the Arms Foundation, which “promotes, motivates and inspires the next generation of leaders through life-changing programming and initiatives. Supporting ARMS is supporting students who need you to accomplish their goals, dreams and aspirations.”

According to the Arms Foundation website this is how and why the foundation came about:

“Bazemore grew up in a small town in Kelford, NC with a population of around 300 people. Its size meant that the community was closely connected. The small size of the community also meant that resources were limited – there was one park in the town, which became a center of activity and fun. Kent’s family didn’t have a lot when he was growing up. The one park provided he and his friends an opportunity to play and provided Kent with an introduction to his passion of basketball.

The ARMS Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit that exists to invest in youth, inspiring them to achieve their dreams and seeding programming that drives those dreams to becoming reality. This is achieved through engaging programming, unique and strategic partnerships, and decisive investments that foster youth opportunity and success.

Kent sees the Foundation as a long-term project. He wants it to outlast his career in the League and be a major focus of his work in the future. Its work can be central to Kent’s long-term legacy.”

Wedding Date

Bazemore and his wife Samantha tied the knot in 2017.

Celebrity Look Alike

Chance the Rapper

Podcast Host

Winging It: Vince Carter with Kent Bazemore

Last season, Bazemore hosted a podcast with Vince Carter with topics on “everything from golf, to rookie hazing, to career milestones, The Ringer’s new podcast, titled “Winging It,” gives fans an exclusive glimpse into the NBA — straight from the players themselves.”

Phone App Note Goes Viral

It was back in March of 2019, when Bazemore took to Twitter to explain his defense on James Harden.

This ‘note’ was posted after the Internet reacted to Harden sending Bazemore into a spin move on the defensive end.

The move was Shaqtin’ A Fool moment. Most NBA fans no that there is no shame in being destroyed by Harden.

Bazemore had fun on twitter explain exactly what happened.