Michael Beasley is a much bigger name. Kenneth Faried probably has a better chance at a roster spot, and so does Emmanuel Mudiay. The development of Greg Brown III and Trendon Watford is definitely more of a priority for the Trail Blazers than his.
Yet during Portland's first Summer League game in Las Vegas, it was Antonio Blakeney who emerged as by far his team's best player and brightest star.
The journeyman guard dropped a game-high 27 points in the Blazers' 93-86 win over the Charlotte Hornets, all but two of them coming after halftime as Blakeney almost single-handedly kept his team in the lead. He scored 20 consecutive points for Portland during a seven-and-a-half minute stint between the late third and mid-fourth quarters, tormenting the Hornets with smooth mid-range jumpers, quick pull-up threes and a crafty off-dribble game.
After getting a brief breather with just under three minutes remaining, Blakeney reentered the game without missing a beat. He immediately ran off five quick points on a pair of tough jumpers, the last a staredown corner triple that put the Blazers up 10 with 37 seconds left.
Blakeney went 9-of-10 from the field, 2-of-3 from beyond the arc and made all seven of his free throw attempts. The 24-year-old did all that damage in just 18 minutes of play off the bench, harkening back to his latest NBA stint with the Chicago Bulls as a microwave reserve scorer.
Blakeney, who starred in China in 2019-20 before returning stateside last season to the G-League's Canton Charge, credited Portland's collective commitment to winning the Summer League title for its opening-game victory. The Blazers' well-known veterans didn't make a huge impact statistically on Sunday, but Blakeney singled out their influence post-game anyway.
"From the jump they came in the first day of practice, having us practicing hard, playing hard, being professional," he said of Beasley, Faried and Mudiay.
George King, a 2018 second-round pick of the Phoenix Suns, lived up to his sharpshooting reputation in his Blazers debut, scoring 17 points while missing just one of his six tries from deep.
Blakeney and King were Portland's only double-figure scorers, but Brown made his presence felt regardless. The Blazers second-round pick had nine points, two rebounds and two blocks in 18 minutes off the bench, showing off the length and raw athleticism that made him a consensus top-10 high school recruit barely more than a year ago. Though he struggled when asked to create his own offense, Brown was aggressive looking for his jumper, even draining a jab-step three.
Two-way rookie Trendon Watford, Brown's partner in the frontcourt, scored four points and grabbed four rebounds, failing to make an impact defensively at center.
The Blazers have Monday off in Las Vegas before meeting the LA Clippers on Tuesday, 8:00 p.m. (PST) on ESPNU.