Trail Blazers Training Camp, Day 1: Deandre Ayton, Scoot Henderson Make Strong First Impression
Plus other thoughts from the first day in Santa Barbara.
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — The Trail Blazers' first practice of training camp was a long one. They usually are. Not only is everybody fresh, but with so many new faces (only four players were here a year ago), there's a lot of needing to get everyone up to speed.
"The first day, you always get those jitters," head coach Chauncey Billups said after practice. "Guys don't want to mess up. But the new guys are picking stuff up quickly. You keep it very simple."
The practice on the UCSB campus ran well over three hours. Most of the intrigue is still around the two highest-profile new guys: No. 3 overall pick Scoot Henderson and Damian Lillard trade centerpiece Deandre Ayton. A lot about the next era of the Blazers is going to hinge on those two—whether Henderson is a franchise point guard and whether Ayton is more the force he was in the 2021 playoffs than the inconsistent presence he was in the following two seasons.
So far, the reviews are positive for both, from Billups and from each other.
"That kid's fast," Ayton said of Henderson. "He's a great facilitator, can get to the rim anytime he wants, and a great passer too. The way he pushes the ball down the floor is crazy."