Luke Babbitt's Confidence Improved in Return to Trail Blazers
"With Luke, he's a good team guy, he just wanted to fit in. At times, [Babbitt thought], 'Well I need to lay down for the vets. I need to just work the ball, I need to not go get my own shot, I need to just fit in. Be a part of the system and not break any of the plays or anything like that,'" Portland's assistant director of scouting Joe Cronin told Blazersedge's Ben Golliver when describing what the Blazers first round pick needed to improve upon during his time in the D-League. "I think he's learning at our level that this is what you do. We need you to go get your offense. We need you to be assertive and look for your shots."
Babbitt certainly looked for his shots in the D-League as the Stampede seemingly gave him the green light. The Nevada alum's 58 field goal attempts led the team during his four- game foray, despite the fact that the rest of the roster boasts noted chuckers -- and former NBA players -- Antoine Walker and Luke Jackson. While this was probably the plan when the Blazers sent him to their D-League affiliate, it was obvious that Babbitt was definitely looking for his shots without paying much attention to his shot-selection as he converted on just 41 percent of his attempts.
Upon his return to the Blazers Saturday night, who were forced to recall their first round pick after losing Brandon Roy, Nicolas Batum, Marcus Camby and Joel Przybilla due to injury, Babbitt continued to look for his shot as he got five attempts up in his 11 minutes of playing time -- after shooting just 10 times total in his previous eight NBA appearances.
"We are just throwing him in the fire. He came out, he was aggressive, he had some looks, he was scrapping," Nate McMillan told Blazersedge during his post-game press conference after the Blazers defeated the Golden State Warriors 96-95 Satruday night. "He will probably want to go away again because he got more minutes tonight than he did when he was here. We needed him to put him out there. He missed some shots but we knew he would be aggressive and bought us some time which was good."
Unfortunately for Babbitt, though, his aggressiveness didn't pay off in production. First, he tossed up an errant jumper off of an inbound pass and then missed the ensuing put-back, then was well short on a wide-open three-point attempt from the top of the key, and later he airballed a lay-up during a fast break (and the follow-up dunk attempt after Patty Mills drew a foul on the rebound) before finally converting an and-one opportunity after an offensive rebound to give three points on 1-of-5 shooting to go with two rebounds, a steal and a turnover.
While it's clear that the D-League helped Babbitt regain his confidence, another stint once the Blazers are healthy would probably be beneficial so that he can work more on converting his shot attempts now that he's shown he's not afraid to take them.