There’s a phrase thrown around in the NBA a lot that some people frown upon.
That phrase is load management.
But, there’s not just one way of going about managing a player’s minutes and allowing star players to get rest well into the season.
When big name players sit out a game or two due to ‘load management’ fans usually aren’t happy about it.
That makes sense.
The Trail Blazers; however, have not been a team to sit Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum out of a game for resting purposes.
The Blazers as an organization allow their players ‘load management’ in a different way.
Over the past couple of seasons, Lillard has talked about how he will sit out of certain drills or scrimmages in a practice in order to save his legs for the games.
So the Blazers don't mess with load management during games, but rather practices.
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And now with the Trail Blazers heading to Orlando to embark on the eight-game regular season restart, which includes a three-week training camp before games tip-off, Lillard and McCollum will need to try and stay fresh, and ready for the grind as the Blazers hope to make the postseason.
And that’s where signing backup point guard Jaylen Adams comes in.
Days after it was reported that starting small forward Trevor Ariza is opting out of returning with the Blazers and instead committing to a one-month visitation window to see his 12-year-old son, the Trail Blazers signed G-League star guard Jaylen Adams.
No, the Blazers didn’t pick up Adams to fill in for Ariza.
Trail Blazers President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey explains it best:
“You have to send out the message to the league that he’s replacing Trevor Ariza, [but] he’s clearly not ‘replacing’ Trevor Ariza,” Olshey told our Dwight Jaynes while using air quotes around the word ‘replacing.’
And yes, that’s been the hang up for fans.
That’s where there was some confusion -- Why would you add a guard when your starting small forward has opted out of returning to play?
Again, we need to go back to load management.
“When you look at it, Damian and CJ, play over 40 minutes a game in the playoffs,” Olshey said. “We’ve got a three-week training period down in Orlando including three scrimmages, clearly we’re going to be managing the load on Dame and CJ before they have to go play eight games in the 13 days including a back-to-back, and hopefully a play-in game or two and then hopefully into the playoffs. So a point guard was more critical in terms of load management for our two best players than it was us thinking that we were going to find a player who hadn’t been traded at the trade deadline, who hadn’t been bought out, who wasn’t eligible on Mar. 1, who was going to be capable of replacing our best wing defender and a guy who was shooting 40 percent from three with us.”
Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts echoed the same sentiments.
“With Trevor being out, obviously, the guys that we have we felt comfortable with filling some of those minutes,” Stotts said. “And really the thinking was we’re going to have three weeks of practice and we have low numbers, we’ve got plenty of wings, we’ve got plenty of bigs, and to be able to have good practice without overusing Dame and CJ was important. That was the primary concern.”
Anfernee Simons is the only other Trail Blazer besides Lillard and McCollum who saw meaningful time at point guard this season.
“When you look at our roster right now we have a hole at backup point guard,” Stotts added. “If something were to happen with Dame or CJ there’s a hole there and we need to be able to fill that in the event that that happens as well.”
Thus, Adams will undoubtedly be helpful at the one position for practices and scrimmages.
The 24-year-old went undrafted in 2018 after playing college ball for the St. Bonaventure Bonnies. He earned co-Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year honors as a senior in 2018.
In August of 2019, Adams signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the Milwaukee Bucks. During training camp with Milwaukee, he was cut and assigned to the Bucks’ G League affiliate, the Wisconsin Herd.
Adams averaged 21.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game for the Herd during the 2019-20 season, while earning All-NBA G-League First Team honors and was also the G-League MVP runner up to Wisconsin Herd's Frank Mason III.
And now he will be the primary candidate to assist in load management for Portland's two star guards.