During the second quarter of Portland’s 72-63 win versus the Utah Jazz at the Las Vegas Summer League, president of basketball operations Neil Olshey joined Mike Breen and Seth Greenberg on ESPNU’s broadcast to discuss the play of rookies Zach Collins and Caleb Swanigan.
“I think with Caleb… he just makes winning plays,” said Olshey. “He’s a 50-50 ball guy, he’s got a high IQ, he’s tough, he’s always around the ball, he’s got hands. He’s just one of those guys you can’t quantify, he just helps you win.”
Swanigan’s 16-point, 13-rebound double-double in Saturday night’s win likely had many in Portland wondering how he might fit into the rotation next season. Olshey noted there’s plenty of competition for minutes in the frontcourt and that Terry Stotts is in charge of such decisions, but that he figures Swanigan game will transition nicely from college to the pros.
“We’ve got some great depth between Noah Vonleh and Al-Farouq Aminu at four,” said Olshey. “Jusuf Nurkić had a huge year for us, we have Ed Davis come back from injury, Meyers Leonard sitting over here supporting the young guys. It’s a process but I think what Terry (Stotts) saw right away is there are things he can do that translate at the NBA level. If you’re going to rebound, you’re going to rebound. He bangs bodies, he’s a great screen-setter. I think he’s going to be one of those guys that the stat level players are going to enjoy playing with because he doesn’t need the ball to help you win.”
Then there’s Collins, who left his first summer league game disappointed with his individual performance after finishing with 10 points on 3-of-13 shooting, seven rebounds, four blocks and two steals in 29 minutes. While the 7-0 center out of Gonzaga not have had the offensive performance he would have like playing in his hometown, Olshey noted the team was much more interested in his ability to defend.
“One of the things we’re really excited about with both our guys is they have the potential to be two-way players,” said Olshey. “Everybody looks at Zach’s offense because he shoots the ball, he’s got good touch around the hoop. He’s got to get stronger but his ability to block and alter shots and protect the rim was really intriguing for us in the draft process.”