It was another slow night for Omari Johnson in Las Vegas.
After failing to enter the first game for the Trailblazers in the Las Vegas NBA Summer League on Saturday, it looked like Johnson might have had a chance to break the seal in his second outing for Portland. Unfortunately for his sake, he would have no such luck. Johnson didn't move from the bench in the Blazers' 85-69 loss at the hands of the Spurs on Sunday night at Cox Pavilion on the campus of UNLV, delaying his 2016 NBA Summer League debut for at least another fews days.
On a forward-heavy roster that features the likes of Noah Vonleh, Cliff Alexander, Luis Montero, Jake Layman and Jordan Bachynski, it's not hard to see why or how Johnson is failing to land in the rotation. Portland has money already invested in a few of those pieces and the goal for their retooling roster is to bring in "instant impact" young pieces instead of journeyman role players. That much is understandable. However, the question that arises from Johnson's lack of playing time is why the former Beavers star would've chosen to play for the Trailblazers if the potential for court-time was going to be this scarce? Was Portland simply the only team who extended a Summer League invite to Johnson or is his lack of action simply a case of bad timing?
While Johnson has struggled to secure a permanent home during his professional career, the window for him to make the NBA (now at 27 years old) is closing by the day and quite possibly, this summer could be one of his last legitimate shots at the stateside league. In actuality, for a better look into Johnson's chances at the NBA, an article posted in mid-January on RidiculousUpside.com, probably gives the strongest insight into what exactly some NBA D-League coaches are thinking about Johnson's potential. In the article, Maine Red Claws' head coach Scott Morrison opens up about Johnson, stating just exactly what he likes about the 6' 10" forward's game.
From Ridiculous Upside's Article: "He stretches the floor and makes things easier for his teammates. But the difference about Omari is that he can do much more than just shoot," the 2014-15 NBA D-League Coach of the Year pointed out. "He's a great offensive rebounder, he can contest shots at the rim, and switch out on the smaller guys and keep them in front of him defensively. That's one thing he's really improved this year."
Johnson also talks about himself and his experience a bit as well, saying "I've been through a lot of games and faced a lot of top talent. It's not new for me, so I guess that gives me a little advantage. You can put me out there at any time, at any position, and I'll produce."
With confidence like that, it now seems that all Johnson is waiting for at the Las Vegas NBA Summer League is that chance to finally produce. Only time will tell if that chance comes Johnson's way when Portland returns to action on Tuesday, July 12th against the Utah Jazz. The start-time for that contest is schedule for 4:30 PM ET and the game will be televised on NBA TV.