Summer League starts for the Trail Blazers on July 7, and as usual, the roster for the annual event will be made up of the Blazers 2018 draft pick(s), undrafted free agents, NBA veterans looking to latch onto a roster, and current Trail Blazers.
So, which Trail Blazers players do you want to see in Sin City? Here are the most likely candidates to represent the Blazers and why they should be in Las Vegas:
Caleb Swanigan: Last Summer League – 8 games, 16.1 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 2.3 apg
Swanigan burst on the summer league scene and made an instant impact with his energy and hustle on the boards. Swanigan had the second most rebounds per game of any player at the event and was an All-NBA Summer League First-Team selection. However, his success in Las Vegas didn’t translate to the NBA regular season. Swanigan played in just 27 regular season games, averaging 2.3 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 0.5 assists per contest. More than any other Blazer, Swanigan needs to be in Las Vegas. Swanigan needs the chance to once again show what he can bring to the table and convince not only the coaching staff, but also himself, that he can succeed in this league.
Jake Layman – Last Summer League - 8 games 13.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.0 apg
Layman had a successful summer league outing in 2017, but like Swanigan, it didn’t translate to a lot of playing time in the regular season. Layman was kept buried at the end of the bench and appeared in just 35 games, averaging 1.0 points, 0.5 rebounds, and 0.3 assists per game. Layman will be entering his third season in the league in 2018, and like Swanigan, needs to show something special at summer league or it could be another season of nothing but garbage time minutes.
Wade Baldwin – Last Summer League W/Memphis - 6 games, 14.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.7 apg
Baldwin had a great summer league for the Grizzlies last year, but he spent most of the regular season in the G-league before Memphis waived him. One team's trash is another team's treasure, and Baldwin has appeared to find a home with the Blazers. He played in just seven games for Portland, but showed great potential on defense and brought good energy to the floor. His best game – a 15-point outburst against his former team on March 28. A strong showing in Vegas could convince the Blazers that Baldwin is a capable backup point guard should they lose Shabazz Napier in free agency
Zach Collins – Last Summer League - 3 games, 6.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 0.7 apg
By all accounts, Zach Collins had a very poor summer league last season. However, just like success in Vegas doesn’t always lead to success in the regular season, failure in summer league doesn’t always lead to failure in the regular season. Collins started the year with DNPs, but ended the season as a key part of Portland’s rotation. Right now Collins is 50/50 on whether or not he will be in Vegas, but judging by his late-season run, he will be well entrenched in the Blazers rotation no matter what. Collins has little to gain at Summer League outside of getting a few more games under his belt. The risk of injury may not be worth the minimal gain.