Summer league will be very interesting for the Portland Trail Blazers and rookies like Jeff Withey.
While most teams grabbed one or two players in the draft, the Trail Blazers had previous arrangements to get four. It’s hard to imagine that with NBA Rookie-of-the-Year Damian Lillard and a few other rookies from the 2012-13 season still on hand that the Trail Blazers are going to have more than five or six rookies and sophomores on their roster.
Don’t be surprised if a rookie or sophomore gets traded by the Blazers for a veteran player from another team prior to the start of the season. It’s hard to believe that coach Terry Stotts and his boss’ plan on having half their team consist of rookies and s0phomores.
But Withey is one player the Blazers should definitely focus on for the upcoming season and beyond that. He went in the 39th pick and Withey is likely to give the Blazers a better defensive effort than what they witnessed. He’s at 7-feet, 235 pounds and averaged 8.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.76 blocks and 19.8 minutes in 117 games over four seasons.
For the 39th pick, that wasn’t a bad one at all. It may take Withey a few years to adapt to the physical nature of NBA play. The Blazers lost their last 13 games of the regular season because of lousy defense. So if Withey can come into the lineup and give the Blazers critical help right away, this could be a team that will contend for the playoffs next season and perhaps beyond that.