The Portland Trail Blazers advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2017 Las Vegas Summer League tournament by beating the No. 1 seeded Toronto Raptors 91-85 Thursday night at COX Pavilion on the campus of UNLV. Portland, the 16th seed, was able to pull the upset behind 17 points from Nick Johnson and a double-double of 11 points and 13 rebounds from Caleb Swanigan, who the Trail Blazers selected with the 26th pick of the 2017 NBA Draft. Swanigan has now posted double-doubles in three of Portland’s four games in Las Vegas and is second in summer league in rebounding at 10.3 boards per game.
Swanigan’s performance at summer league earned him a spot on Sports Illustrated’s list of six players “turning heads” in Las Vegas…
Swanigan has been a galvanizing force for the Blazers with his contagious effort. He looks like he belongs. He’s the type of player who was easy to overthink during the draft process, but he’s looked mobile enough and has more than enough length to make up for the lack of height. Given Portland’s cap-sheet constraints, nabbing Swanigan at No. 26 looks prudent. Summer League stats come and go, but the hustle speaks volumes. How many guys are fun to watch rebound?
The 6-9 forward out of Purdue has been Portland’s most consistent summer league performer — he’s one of only three players averaging a double-double in Las Vegas — and has lived up to his billing as a relentless worker on and off the court. Portland will need Swanigan to continue his assault on the boards if they’re to beat the San Antonio Spurs Saturday afternoon and advance to the Las Vegas Summer League tournament semifinals. Tipoff for that game is scheduled for 1 pm on ESPN2.