As the Trail Blazers Summer League circuit is set to tip off on July 7th, there are a few players on the roster that could find themselves a part of the nightly rotation come this Fall.
All eyes are seemingly on Shaedon Sharpe, rightfully so given the fact he was a top-seven pick without stepping a foot on a college court. Even then, Trendon Watford is perhaps the most pivotal young player to keep an eye on through the Summer League.
Watford, an undrafted forward out of LSU, not only accepted the role given to him but took advantage of the opportunity when it presented itself during the 2022 NBA season. As the Blazers injury list continued to grow, Watford was not shy about the expanding role he had. The month of March in particular was where Rip City had been able to see Watford the most. In 13 games he garnered 10 starts and finished the month with averages of 15.4 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 3.4 assists.
Watford is truly an enticing prospect for a plethora of reasons. In the most simplistic way put, he is a smart basketball player that just so happens to be in the right place at the right time, immediately allowing him to make an impact. But as you dive deeper into the game of Watford, there are many different aspects of his game that catch the eyes of viewers.
For one, Watford’s ability to grab a rebound and immediately push the pace opens the door to catch opposing defenses out of their sets. On several occasions every night, you saw Watford making the right play in the open court ending in an open look for either him or a teammate. To circle back to Watford’s high IQ, he never lacked when having to make a quick decision when put in the position.
The reason behind Watford being such a pivotal player for this Summer League team is due to the lack of depth the Blazers could be entering the upcoming season with. As of now, the Blazers have Jusuf Nurkic, Jerami Grant and Drew Eubanks rounding out their front-court rotation. With a strong showing at the end of last season, Watford could be poised to have a fairly big role coming off the bench for this Portland squad.
During the 2022 season, Watford quickly became a fan favorite with his pure hustle off the bench. As an undrafted rookie, you could see the chip on his shoulder he played with every night and his hard work truly paid off. In February of 2022, Watford’s two-way contract was turned into an NBA contract as he signed a four-year deal worth $5.8-million.
If Watford’s play aligns with the outings he had to end his rookie season, it could be a fairly short stint in the Summer League for the 21-year-old. Portland’s Summer League tips off Thursday, July 7th, at 9 p.m. pacific time against the Detroit Pistons.