Joel Freeland hasn’t been getting too much attention from Portland Trail Blazers fans lately. All the attention has gone to LaMarcus Aldridge, who is currently the subject of trade rumors, then to Damian Lillard, who won the NBA Rookie of the Year award last season, then to C.J. McCollum and the other Portland draft choices, then to Robin Lopez, who came to the team on a major trade, and then back to McCollum and others in Summer League ball.
Freeland, coming off his rookie season, has taken a backseat to all of this, but he’s likely to come to the forefront once the season begins.
Freeland didn’t see too much action in his rookie season, averaging only 2.6 points, 2.3 rebounds and 0.3 assists per game. He started seeing more action late in the season as the Blazers’ numbers thinned out, but he only got one start; he averaged 9.4 minutes per game. He shot 40.8 percent from the floor and 66.7 percent from the free-throw line. His numbers will need to improve on both counts.
But Freeland could be a more valuable sophomore for the Blazers than their fans would acknowledge. If he’s given the minutes, he can do some great things for the team. In the second-to-last game of the regular season, a 93-77 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, he shot 5-of-10 from the floor, recording 13 points, six rebounds, two steals and no turnovers.
Like any other young players in the NBA, Freeland needs to learn how to be more consistent. Once he figures that out, he’ll be getting plenty of playing time.