• 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

  • John Jenkins - G - New York Knicks

    Shams Charania is reporting that the Knicks are expected to sign shooting guard John Jenkins to a two-year deal.

    Jenkins was recently signed to 10-day contract by New York and he played in 6 games so far averaging just 4.5 points, 1.0 rebounds and 0.7 assists. He apparently made a good impression to the team and will provide more depth in a depleted backcourt.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Anthony Davis - F/C - New Orleans Pelicans

    Appearing on the Stadium Sports Network last night, Shams Charania said that Anthony Davis doesn’t view the Celtics as a long-term destination.

    Does it really matter at this point? AD, during the All-Star weekend, mentioned that all 29 NBA teams other than the Pelicans are on his list to land when he becomes trade eligible again this summer. Shams meanwhile insists that his preferred destinations are only the Lakers, the Clippers, the Knicks, and the Bucks. The trade talk can wait until the offseason but for now, it remains to be seen whether AD plays another game for the Pelicans, something that will drastically impact the value of players like Jahlil Okafor, Julius Randle, Kenrich Williams and Cheick Diallo for the rest of the season.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Jordan Sibert - G - Atlanta Hawks

    Chris Kirschner of The Athletic is reporting that the Hawks are signing guard Jordan Sibert to a 10-day contract.

    The former Dayton guard has been playing in the G League for the Erie BayHawks where in 34 games he averaged 15.0 points, 1.9 assists and 1.4 steals. The departure of Jeremy Lin and the trade of Tyler Dorsey has opened up some minutes in Atlanta’s backcourt so Sibert might deserve a look in very deep leagues.

    Source: Chris Kirschner on Twitter

  • Spencer Dinwiddie - G - Brooklyn Nets

    Kenny Atkinson was noncommittal about whether Spencer Dinwiddie would be back by the time the Nets embark on a 7-city, 17-day road trip that starts on March 13th.

    Dinwiddie is still recovering from thumb surgery he had on January 28th but he’s been working out on the court, dribbling with his off hand. Just to be clear, there hasn’t been an official medical update from the Nets yet so this is more of speculation on Atkinson’s part. With fantasy playoffs rapidly approaching, managers will have to make a tough decision on whether to hold on to Dinwiddie, but we should have a more concrete update on his status at some point in the next few days.

    Source: Brian Lewis on Twitter

  • Dwight Howard - C - Washington Wizards

    Dwight Howard will return to Washington D.C. and start on-court work on Wednesday.

    Dwight has been recovering from November spine surgery, and it's good to see him progressing. He's still a few steps away from playing, and with the injuries he's been dealing with this season, it's hard to see him being useful outside of deep free throw punt teams. More likely, the greatest impact he'll have is eventually taking a few minutes from Thomas Bryant and Bobby Portis.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Henry Ellenson - F - New York Knicks

    Henry Ellenson plans to sign a 10-day contract with the Knicks.

    Ellenson has shown promise at times, but he has never really put together any fantasy-relevant stretches. Leave him on the wire for now, but it's not impossible to imagine a scenario where the tanking Knicks are missing or sitting a couple bigs, giving Ellenson some decent run.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Clint Capela - C - Houston Rockets

    Clint Capela (thumb) returned to practice on Tuesday with no limitations, which could determine his playing status for Thursday's game against the Lakers.

    Capela underwent surgery on January 17 and was initially given a 4-to-6 week timetable, so this would be at the early end of a return. The fact that he is returning to practice without any limitations is a great sign for owners, meaning a return is imminent. Watch out for the Rockets injury report on Wednesday.

    Source: Jonathan Feigen on Twitter

  • Jodie Meeks - G - Toronto Raptors

    Jodie Meeks is signing a 10-day contract with the Raptors, per Adrian Wojnarowski.

    Meeks was waived by the Bucks following the conclusion of his 25-game suspension for violating the league's anti-drug program. He hasn't played since last season with Washington and is unlikely to see much action with Toronto. He'll give the team some extra shooting when he does see the floor.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Jared Dudley - F - Brooklyn Nets

    Jared Dudley (left hamstring strain) was scheduled to be re-evaluated on Tuesday.

    Dudley has already made it known that he's planning to return right out of the All-Star break, so unless today's checkup revealed some kind of further issue we're expecting him to be ready for Brooklyn's two games this week. His biggest fantasy impact will be taking minutes from more intriguing players.

    Source: Greg Logan on Twitter

  • Caris LeVert - G - Brooklyn Nets

    Caris LeVert will undergo an evaluation from the Nets medical staff on Tuesday.

    There's no sign of any setbacks from LeVert but the team will obviously keep a close eye on him after he's returned from a dislocated foot. This shouldn't be anything more than routine maintenance, so fantasy owners don't need to worry about it.

    Source: Greg Logan on Twitter