• Leading up to the Portland Trail Blazers’ season-opener against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers at Moda Center on October 18, HoopBall is profiling the team’s 15 players with guaranteed contracts, in reverse order of price.

    Prior entries: Gary Trent, Jr.

    Player: Jake Layman

    2018-19 salary: $1,544,951 (via spotrac)

    Position: wing, forward

    Age, experience: 24, third year

    Measureables: 6-foot-9, 210 pounds (6-foot-9 and 1/4 inch wingspan)

    Strengths: leaping, transition finishing, cutting

    Weaknesseslateral quickness, length, ball handling, shooting

    Swing factor: 3-point shooting

    Likely role: 10th man, spot minutes

    Layman has always been intriguing as a modern-day combo forward, despite that promise being rooted in his natural gifts far more than his actual on-court impact since he was drafted in 2016. Fortunately, his eye-popping play at Summer League – which came shortly after Portland made the surprising decision to guarantee his contract right before free agency, remember – makes the third-year wing a viable candidate to crack Terry Stotts’ rotation than ever before.

    At 6-foot-9 with explosive leaping ability and a knack for making himself available at the rim in transition and off cuts, Layman has the tools to provide the Blazers with some much-needed athletic dynamism. He threatens the basket as a finisher, especially on lobs, more so than any of his teammates save for the possible exception of Moe Harkless. Unlike Harkless, though, the scope of Layman’s athleticism doesn’t extend much beyond leaping. He doesn’t have the quickness to stick with guards off the dribble, and lacks the necessary fluidity with the ball to break down his defender. Those weaknesses would be debilitating for any wing, but especially for a player whose wingspan is barely longer than his height. It’s not like Layman has the build to make up for those deficiencies with physicality when he slides down to power forward, either.

    As such, his most realistic path to playing time is as a specialist, which finally seems a realistic outcome given his performance over the summer. Layman was one of the most impressive shooters who took the floor in Las Vegas, from no matter where he was launching. He shot 54.2 percent from beyond the arc on 3.4 attempts per game, connecting on spot-ups or after running around screens, and looked similarly comfortable shooting off the dribble from mid-range – sometimes even as a second-side ball-screen operator. Combined with his own personal highlight-reel of aerial finishes, Layman’s scorching-hot jumper resulted in a head-turning true shooting percentage of 69.3, over 24 points higher than his mark from the previous summer.

    Let’s pump the brakes on affording him the label of marksman, though. Layman has shot 17-of-71 from deep in limited playing time over his first two years in the NBA, and didn’t fare much better during his first two trips to Las Vegas or during a brief G-League appearance as a rookie. Based on every available data point, his shooting binge this summer should be treated as an aberration instead of the conclusion of his developmental arc. But there’s a reason the Blazers believed enough in Layman to give him guaranteed money this season as Paul Allen is poised to pay the luxury tax, and long-running whispers of him shooting well in practice and individual workouts are probably the chief means behind it. There just isn’t much justification for that surprising decision otherwise, considering Layman will perpetually be stuck between positions, unable to consistently affect the game in a meaningful manner unless he’s stretching the defense.

    Portland’s failure to live up to Olshey’s expectations of acquiring a playoff-ready wing this offseason looms large for his chance at meaningful playing time, too. Layman won’t be passing Al-Farouq Aminu or Harkless in Portland’s short pecking order of combo forwards, nor play ahead of Evan Turner on the wing or Zach Collins inside when Stotts plays a traditional center. He’ll likely fight with Gary Trent, Jr. and Caleb Swanigan for spot minutes on the periphery of the Blazers’ rotation, and the coaching staff is undoubtedly hoping he beats them out. Lineup versatility is of utmost importance in today’s league, and as Portland looks to pick up the pace and perhaps embrace more switching defensively, a player with Layman’s tools – despite those obvious deficiencies of foot speed and length – could be of great use.

    But it all depends on the jumper. If Layman proves this summer was a harbinger of things to come as a 3-point shooter, he could account for a significant portion of the internal improvement necessary to make up for the Blazers’ underwhelming slate of offseason acquisitions. Absent him emerging as a reliable option from long-range, though, it’s hard to see Layman making an impact in 2018-19, his last chance to cement himself as a bonafide NBA player before hitting restricted free agency next July.

Fantasy News

  • Romello White
    PF, College

    Romello White declared for the 2020 NBA Draft on Wednesday.

    White is "keeping his options available" despite declaring for the draft. It is probably a good idea considering he isn't a lock to be drafted. The junior power forward averaged 10.2 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks for Arizona State this past season. He isn't likely to be on the fantasy radar even if he does earn a roster spot in the NBA.

    Source: Jon Rothstein on Twitter

  • Kevin Durant
    SF, Brooklyn Nets

    The four players from the Nets who tested positive for COVID-19 are symptom free after passing a 14-day protocol but are still self-isolating, according to Greg Logan of Newsday.

    Logan went on to say that the entire traveling party for the Nets are healthy at the moment. This is a good sign to see players and staff recovering from the virus without any new cases reported.

    Source: Greg Logan on Twitter

  • Marcus Smart
    PG, Boston Celtics

    Marcus Smart plans to donate his blood plasma to the National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project for research on how the virus affects the blood of those infected or have been infected already, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

    This marks an interesting end (fingers-crossed) to Smart's coronavirus infection and subsequent quarantine. Only five NBA players have received confirmed positive tests for COVID-19 but the NBA obviously isn't taking any chances during this global pandemic. With speed being medical professionals' biggest pressure with regards to a vaccine, Smart really stepped up to the plate. Hopefully other public figures who have recovered from the virus will follow his lead in donating necessary items for research. This also doesn't hurt Smart's public image, which has been known to fluctuate dramatically during his college and professional career.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Jeremy Lin
    PG, International

    The Chinese government has stopped the CBA (Chinese Basketball Association) from resuming their season, nearly two months after halting their season due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19.

    The CBA does not currently have a players' union, so these types of sweeping decisions can happen more quickly than in the United States, where the players are unionized. While this is not great news for basketball players and fans in China, it also has global ramifications for sports across the world looking for a timeline. Everyone is wondering when it will be safe to resume or begin athletic events. Executives are trying to handle the logistics of said decisions, which is much more of a slippery slope. It seems increasingly obvious that the NBA is nowhere near a return to action and currently the situation is still completely out of commissioner Adam Silver's hands.

    Source: CBS Sports

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    The entire Lakers roster has been deemed symptom-free of the coronavirus after completing a 14-day home isolation that was prescribed by team doctors, according to Lakers reporter Mike Trudell.

    Finally, some good news for the NBA. The Lakers were isolated two weeks ago and they all maintained quarantine in their homes. The league has yet to announce plans as far as next steps for potentially resuming the 2019-20 season, but this is a good start. More teams should complete quarantine periods in the coming weeks. It doesn't help that professional basketball's return in China was halted abruptly after they had planned on making a return earlier this week. This is obviously a very fluid situation and NBA commissioner Adam Silver must bide his time before making concrete decisions. Stay tuned.

    Source: Mike Trudell on Twitter

  • Clint Capela
    C, Atlanta Hawks

    According to Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlantic Journal Constitution, Clint Capela had been progressing towards participating in half-court workouts prior to the season being suspended.

    There was some uncertainty surrounding Capela's potential return this season, but now he will have a much better shot at getting a few games below his belt before the conclusion of the season. If Capela does indeed find himself on the court for a few games, we'd have to imagine that he will be on a strict minutes limit as Lloyd Pierce alluded to last month.

    Source: Atlantic Journal Constitution

  • Cameron Johnson
    SF, Phoenix Suns

    Cameron Johnson is fully cleared from mononucleosis that he has been battling for the past few weeks.

    Johnson missed the final three games before the league was suspended due to mononucleosis, but will be ready to go when the season starts up again. Johnson was looking at an expanded role with Kelly Oubre Jr. injured, but there is now a chance that Oubre Jr. will be ready a situation to monitor when the season gets ready to resume.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Joe Harris
    SF, Brooklyn Nets

    Joe Harris said that he would like to re-sign with the Nets this summer.

    When Harris was asked if he would like to play with the Nets next season, he replied, “Yeah, definitely! Why wouldn’t you?" The Nets will have Harris' Bird Rights and will certainly like to bring him back, but Harris will be a highly-coveted free agent this summer and will be looking to cash in on what is seen as a weaker free agent class.

    Source: New York Post

  • Jonathan Isaac
    PF, Orlando Magic

    Jonathan Isaac has been continuing his rehab work from a severe knee sprain amid the NBA hiatus.

    Isaac has been out since early in the calendar year after suffering a left knee sprain and bone bruise. The NBA denied the Magic a Disabled Player Exception earlier in the year, as doctors believed that Isaac wouldn't be out until mid June. Isaac was a long shot to return by the playoffs, but the hiatus has given him a better chance to return and potentially be ready for the start of the playoffs. This is an interesting watch as we continue to wait for the NBA, and life in general, to resume as normal.

    Source: The Athletic

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    The New York Post's Marc Berman reports that the NBA's best-case scenario is looking like a late June to early July brief regular season restart with a one-site, 16-team playoff, possibly with each series a best-of-three.

    He mentions that a league official said that nothing is off the table, so we're far away from anything definitive. There is still obviously a chance that the season gets cancelled, but the league is "very determined to have a champion". Don't expect anything to be determined for many weeks, if not months.

    Source: The New York Post