Blazers' Summer League: Where jobs, roles and improved bodies are on display

Blazers' Summer League: Where jobs, roles and improved bodies are on display

 

Zach Collins, his teammates say, has been living in the weight room.

 

Jake Layman has been working on his ball handling and passing.

 

Meanwhile, as rookies Anfernee Simons and Gary Trent Jr. get used to playing under contract, Wade Baldwin and Georgios Papagiannis will be playing for a contract.

 

These are some of the top stories for the Trail Blazers Summer League team, which starts play in Las Vegas on Saturday against Utah.

 

Collins, the second-year big man who forged an important role last season, figures to be the centerpiece of the Vegas team, with special attention paid to his inside game and his strength.

 

Blazers’ president of basketball operations Neil Olshey said earlier this offseason that the Blazers wanted to see Collins play more inside than he did last season, when he was mostly a perimeter power forward. 

 

One aspect of Collins moving inside more has been the development of his body. Layman said Collins now “lives” in the weight room and Baldwin said he can just look at Collins and see he has become stronger. 

 

“I just look a him,’’ Baldwin said. “He’s wearing a cut off shirt … is a little tone.’’

 

Collins was unavailable after the Blazers’ first Summer League practice on Tuesday because he got hit in the face near the end of a scrimmage.

 

Layman, who is back for his third season after the team did not waive him before June 30, said he has been emphasizing his ball-handling and passing during his offseason workouts. 

 

A small forward, Layman says he wants to be “more aggressive” this season, which includes driving to the basket and bringing the ball up court after grabbing a rebound.

 

While Layman just survived his contract deadline, both Baldwin and the 7-foot-1 Papagiannis will be playing for guaranteed contracts. Both will become guaranteed for the 2018-2019 season if they are not waived on or before July 18.

 

“I have to be full throttle,’’ said Baldwin, who will run the team at point guard. “I’m still on watch; it ain’t guaranteed for me. Nobody in this league is safe. A phone call can change everything.’’

 

Simons, the 24thoverall pick and Trent, the 37thpick, do have guaranteed contracts, even though Trent says he won’t sign his until later in the week. 

 

Simons on Tuesday said he scrimmaged while playing point guard and shooting guard, with probably more emphasis on point guard. 

 

Trent meanwhile said he played point guard, shooting guard and small forward in the scrimmages.

 

Layman was asked who stood out in the first practice and he immediately singled out Trent.

 

“Gary looked great,’’ Layman said. “He shot it well and was aggressive.’’

 

Baldwin said Simons also had good “pace” to his game, and Simons noted that he shot the ball well in his first practice.

 

For Trent, it sounded like he was ready to bypass practices and get right to Saturday’s game. He says he is motivated to prove that he should have been a first round pick.

 

“I always had a chip on my shoulder, but it’s even bigger now,’’ Trent said. “I want to showcase what I can do – I can be a great teammate, I can survive in this league, I can stay in this league. That’s what I’m trying to do.’’