• 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

  • Kawhi Leonard - F - Toronto Raptors

    It has yet to be decided if Kawhi Leonard will play on Saturday in the second game of a back-to-back set.

    Kawhi has been sitting one game of back-to-backs so far this season and though he'll play on Friday coach Nurse responded "We'll see about that tomorrow" when asked about Leonard's availability for Saturday's game in Chicago. Earlier in the season The Athletic's Eric Koreen reported that the Raptors might not sit Kawhi for back-to-backs all season so it's a step in the right direction that he hasn't already been preemptively ruled out for Saturday's game.

    Source: Tim Bontemps on Twitter

  • Serge Ibaka - F/C - Toronto Raptors

    Serge Ibaka (knee) will rejoin the starting lineup with Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam for Friday's game against the Celtics.

    Naturally, Jonas Valanciunas will return to the bench and continue to plod his way to top-80 value in 9-cat. Ibaka has surprised just about everyone with top-50 value in a resurgent season. Congrats to everyone who grabbed hi late in drafts. Keep on deploying him as you normally would.

    Source: Tim Bontemps on Twitter

  • Derrick Jones Jr. - F/G - Miami Heat

    Derrick Jones Jr. (illness) is available to play on Friday vs the Pacers.

    Jones' production has expectedly fallen off as the Heat get more guys back from injury. It'll take several injuries for Jones to resurrect his top-120 play from the first few weeks. As it stands now, he;s not even a deep-league option.

    Source: Ira Winderman on Twitter

  • Wilson Chandler - F - Philadelphia Sixers

    Wilson Chandler remains on a minutes restriction of around 20 minutes.

    This is from coach Brown who added "At the 4 spot, I really love a healthy Wilson Chandler." It looks like Chandler's roll as a starter is solidified as he looks to increase his minutes. Over the last week, he put up top-175 value in 9-cat and it's hard to see him getting much more usage than that even when his minutes cap is lifted.

    Source: Tom Moore on Twitter

  • Rondae Hollis-Jefferson - F - Brooklyn Nets

    Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (ankle) will not play on Friday vs. the Wizards.

    RHJ had to leave Wednesday’s game with the ankle sprain but ended up returning so there must have been some swelling after the game. Friday is the first game of a back-to-back set, so he might make it back for Saturday’s game. DeMarre Carroll would be the obvious guy to benefit though Allen Crabbe is also in play.

    Source: Ben Nadeau on Twitter

  • Jarrett Allen - C - Brooklyn Nets

    Jarrett Allen (illness) will play on Friday vs. the Wizards.

    Allen took a little longer than usual to recover from his illness and will return to a tough matchup against Dwight Howard. Allen is a top-65 play and we’re assuming he’ll get his free throw percentage closer to last year’s which would do would do wonders for his 9-cat value. Even with Allen playing, Ed Davis should still get his regular run.

    Source: Ben Nadeau on Twitter

  • Marcus Morris - F - Boston Celtics

    Marcus Morris (illness) is available to play on Friday vs. the Raptors.

    Morris missed Wednesday's game as we enter flu and cold season, but looks ready to go for their game against the top ranked team in the East. He's been hot to start this year with value inside the top-85 so we hope he can keep it up.

    Source: Celtics on Twitter

  • Dewayne Dedmon - C - Atlanta Hawks

    Dewayne Dedmon (personal) has rejoined the team and is expected to play in Saturday against the Pacers.

    With John Collins also expected to play, Alex Len’s run of low-end value might be coming to an end. Dedmon’s held standard league value even with some inconsistencies and absences to start the year although he remains a trade risk as the Hawks are going no where this season.

    Source: Brad Rowland on Twitter

  • Alex Len - C - Atlanta Hawks

    Alex Len (left ankle sprain) is probable to play against the Pacers on Saturday.

    Despite starting Alex Len has returned value outside the top-200 in 9-cat and with John Collins (ankle) probable to return on Saturday, Len’s production should take a hit. That decline will be compounded whenever Dewayne Dedmon (personal) rejoins the team.

    Source: Brad Rowland on Twitter

  • Taurean Prince - F - Atlanta Hawks

    Taurean Prince (right Achilles pain) is listed as doubtful for Saturday’s game against the Pacers.

    Prince also missed Thursday’s game and we hope his Achilles is feeling better. DeAndre’ Bembry got the start in that one but with usual started John Collins probable to play on Saturday we probably will see additional changed to the Hawks’ starting lineup.

    Source: Brad Rowland on Twitter