The Portland Trail Blazers sent both its rookies Victor Claver and Will Barton on an assignment trip to Idaho this past weekend. For each player, it was chance to get in some needed competitive minutes while also letting Blazers' personnel check in on the two rookies.
Claver and Barton were immediately installed into the Stampede's starting lineup for both nights. Barton led the team in minutes played in each game, while Claver averaged 33.5 minutes for the weekend tilt against the Austin Toros.
By giving the two rookies on assignment the starting nod, it came at the expense of Durrell Summers, who had been a top performer for the Stampede entering the weekend.
Summers, who played four years at Michigan State under Tom Izzo, had led the Stampede in scoring three of the last four contests entering their two-game weekend series with Austin. That doesn't include his monster performance in Idaho's lone preseason game against the Reno Bighorns, during which Summers went off in Winnemucca, Nevada, scoring 32 points while grabbing 8 rebounds and adding 3 steals.
The guard followed up his preseason outburst with a solid all-around performance on opening night against the Los Angeles D-Fenders. Summers had 21 points, 8 rebounds and 5 steals in the loss. When he's at his best, Summers can contribute on both ends of the floor, which is what the guard had done for the Stampede to start the season.
There hasn't been a whole lot of bright spots for the Stampede this year, as they remain winless thus far (0-6). But Summers' play up until this past weekend was certainly impressive and noteworthy.
That all changed once Barton and Claver showed up, as Summers playing time was cut down significantly, his level of play diminished as well. Summers averaged 7.5 points, 2 rebounds, and 1 assist in 23.5 minutes. Prior to the weekend, Summers was averaging 20.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.5 steals in 38.5 minutes.
Summers is an example of the affect in which short term assignments can have on players accustomed to their starting position and most importantly minutes. NBA teams are gladly utilizing their ability to assign young players to their D-League affiliate, but while they are assisting in the development process for a particular young player, they also may be cutting into a promising prospect's minutes and ability to shine.
The assignment trend will undoubtedly continue in the NBA D-League. While such a trend represents a positive aspect that is currently getting its deserved attention, it is also important to note the side effects of all the player shifting. Durrell Summers provides us with a perfect example as he felt the pinch both in minutes, and his level of production due to the player assignments.