When Las Vegas Summer League began on July 6th, most of the intrigue around the event came from the idea of watching top-5 NBA Draft picks DeAndre Ayton, Jaren Jackson and Marvin Bagley compete for the first time for their new teams. Through all the hype, undrafted Xavier guard Trevon Bluiett flew under the radar.
He started to prove himself early on, as the 6’5 guard put up a game-high 24 points and 6 rebounds on 7-10 from the field and 6-8 from beyond the arc for the New Orleans Pelicans in their July 6th victory over the Toronto Raptors. That tremendous play improved the following day, when Bluiett led the Pelicans with 26 points on 10-14 from the field and 6-10 from beyond the arc in only 21 minutes --- leading New Orleans to a big 110-84 blowout victory over the Miami Heat.
The guard’s play cooled off as the event continued. He had 13 points on 5-12 from the field in a July 9th game against Detroit and only 10 points on 4-10 for 4-10 shooting in a July 12th matchup against the Heat. Still, his overall body of work proved strong enough to warrant a two-way deal from the Pelicans by the time his tenure in Las Vegas came to an end.
Under a two-way deal, Bluiett will have an opportunity to spend up to 45 days with the Pelicans where he’ll earn up to $250,000 if he spends that entire duration at the NBA level. Aside from that NBA opportunity, Bluiett will basically stand as a better paid G Leaguer as he’ll make $77,250, a significant improvement on the $35,000 that other players in the league will make in the 2018-19 season.
However, Bluiett’s status for the upcoming season starts to look more murky when you look away from that NBA chance and increased pay. The Pelicans are one of the three teams without a G League affiliate. So to help determine Bluiett’s minor league home, the Pelicans and the G League will have to use the flexible assignment system.
After the Pelicans decide to assign Bluiett, the G League will identify some minor league clubs willing to accept the young guard. After that, the Pelicans can choose the G League destination for Bluiett. No matter which G League team(s) he plays for next year, there’s no doubt that he’ll be an extremely entertaining prospect to watch.
That consistent perimeter efficiency is largely due to how fantastic he is as a catch-and-shoot threat. It’s honestly a blast to watch that whole process from him working around off-ball screens, getting in position and then how he can go from catch to release in a blink of an eye.
His terrific jumper is also evident when he works inside the perimeter, as he stands as a solid mid-range threat. Due to the lack of flashy handles, the main way that he can get open as a mid-range shooter is slowly making his way over to his destination on the court, taking a step back and then throwing up a jumper. That approach works as he shot 42% from long mid-range shots, according to The Stepien.
Aside from his jumper, the two intriguing skills to keep an eye on next year are facilitating and on-ball driving Although his assist numbers were low as he only averaged 2.5 assists per game as a senior, Bluiett definitely has potential to do more when he makes his way to the NBA G League. That promise comes from him being a 6’5 guard that can oversee the floor and also work as a facilitator in the pick-and-roll.
Those two traits go in tandem when he’s working with a roll man as Bluiett can watch him work his way to the rim before throwing a pass. Also, his work as a pick-and-roll facilitator is helped by his fantastic shooting as the opposing big may want to stay on Bluiett so he doesn’t have an open look from 3. That added attention on the perimeter gives him an easy and open target to throw a pass to.
The part of his offensive arsenal worth talking about would be Bluiett’s work as an on-ball driver. Despite the lack of blazing speed or killer handles, he was regularly able to drive his way to the paint during his time at Xavier. That ability came from a decent first step and his ability to utilize off-ball screens to get an open driving lane.
After that process, Bluiett can drive to the rim and use his strong 215 pound frame to finish at the rim if there are defenders surrounding him. Those skills worked out as he shot 63% at the rim during his senior season, according to Hoop-Math. Although he can definitely refine his handles and quicken up his first step a bit, Bluiett should be a serviceable driver when he makes his way to the G League.
Despite the uncertainty regarding where his G League home will actually be, it’s safe to say that Bluiett will be one of the more exciting players to watch next year. For one, his amazing work as a perimeter threat, especially in the catch-and-shoot, should impress fans and irritate opposing coaches throughout the season.
In addition to that, he’ll have an opportunity to continue progressing as a facilitator as Bluiett will get a chance to work with better front-court players than he did with Xavier. Last but not least, it’ll be interesting to see how he progresses as an on-ball driver as the 6’5 wing will either need to quicken up his 1st step or refine his handles if Bluiett wants to have success against NBA competitors.
It might’ve been a blast to watch him ball out in Summer League, but it should be even more entertaining to track Bluiett’s progression during his rookie year in the G League. Because if he progresses on those aforementioned traits, he’ll be an even more electrifying player this coming season.