Do The Portland Trail Blazers Need to Close the Curtain on the Noah Vonleh Experiment?

Noah Vonleh will be able to legally visit the pub for his first adult beverage on August 24, 2016, but the likelihood of the former top 10 draft pick ever becoming a quality NBA basketball player seem to already be over.

NBA Career to Date

In Vonleh’s two NBA seasons, he has averaged 13.9 minutes over 103 games. A small sample size, but he has also done nothing to prove he should be getting more minutes. His career per game averages is 3.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.3 steals, and 0.3 blocks while shooting 41.5% from the field and 72.7% from the line.

If advanced metrics are more your thing, his career offensive box score plus/minus is negative 4.1, on defensive it is negative 0.2 and his career VORP (value over replacement player) is negative 0.8 (All stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference).

No matter the stat or metric, Mr. Vonleh’s NBA career to date has not been impressive. Especially considering he was a top 10 pick.

2016 Summer League

Vonleh, who is about to enter his 3rd season in the NBA played in this year's Summer League, in hopes of actually getting quality minutes and showcasing his talents.

He played 4 games in Las Vegas, averaging 31.5 minutes per contest and put up a stat line of 12.0 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.8 steals, and 0.8 blocks while shooting 46.3% from the field and 70% from the line. He showed a willingness to take 3 pointers, but only hit 3 out of 13, for an abysmal 23.1%.

The stat line looks OK for an NBA rotation player, but not compared to other players in a similar stage of their career like Devin Booker, Trey Lyles, D’Angelo Russell, and Terry Rozier.

He scored mostly on put backs, mid-range jumpers, the occasional rim run and hook shots. He did show decent handles for a PF, but his best attribute displayed during Summer League was his ability to box out and rebound on the defensive end. That is not to be mistaken to mean his defense was good because he was roasted for 30 points by Trey Lyles and looked rather uninspiring regardless of the match-up.

Considering his circumstances, it is safe to say I expected to see a much better, more dominant Vonleh this summer.

The average scouts take when Vonleh came out of the draft was that he had the prototypical PF body with a healthy wingspan, but a raw skill set. There has been no development to this day by my eyes. He is still big, lengthy, can shoot a little, athletic, with the ability to defensive rebound, but he is lacking in too many areas to be a rotation player. Luckily for the Trail Blazers, they have a glut of big men this upcoming season. Vonleh is also on a very valuable contract in the current market making only $2.75 million this season and $3.51 million next season. If I am Portland’s General Manager Neil Olshey, I am picking up the phone and calling around to see if I can get anything back in return for Noah Vonleh and snapping at the best offer I can get. Given their recent spending, though, I assume Vonleh will be kept around for mostly towel waving purposes for the next 2 seasons because of his affordable contract and the hope he develops into a decent rotation player.


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