Trail Blazers Notes: Henderson, Ayton, Camara, Simons

The Trail Blazers have put together a support staff designed to help Scoot Henderson get the most out of his unique talents, writes Marc J. Spears of Andscape.

Head coach Chauncey Billups was an NBA point guard for 17 seasons and succeeded at the highest level, earning five All-Star appearances and being named NBA Finals MVP in 2004. His coaching staff includes Scott Brooks, who played point guard for 10 years and helped to develop Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City, and Pooh Jeter, Henderson’s former G League Ignite teammate. Portland also traded for Malcolm Brogdon, who quickly became a mentor to the 19-year-old rookie.

“Support is everything, especially from the coaching staff,” Henderson said. “That is huge, knowing they have your back. Everyone in the Portland organization, the coaching staff, everybody behind the scenes, they are pitching a lot into the players. The doctors and medical staff are pitching in a certain way you may not think they would. But I’m watching, observing. … I’m going to take the pressure all on me. But knowing that I have the confidence from the coaching staff, I’m going to respect them a lot more.”

Spears notes that Billups can empathize with Henderson because that level of support wasn’t in place for him when he entered the NBA as the No. 3 overall pick in 1997. He was traded midway through his first season and was on his fifth team by the time he developed into a star in Detroit.

“One of the main things I told (Henderson) was, ‘I’m going to be for you what I needed at this age,’” Billups said. “I needed somebody that knew what I should be doing. I needed somebody that could help me learn the game. I didn’t have that. Somebody that was going to be patient with me, knowing that there’s going to be some nasty, ugly games. Someone that was going to be patient, that understood it. I didn’t have that.”

There’s more from Portland:

  • Deandre Ayton is hoping for a larger role in the offense after being acquired from Phoenix, and Billups seems willing to grant him the opportunity, tweets Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. “I’m going to give him the responsibility to do more,” Billups said, “but it’s all going to be based on his commitment level and what he wants to do.”
  • Toumani Camara, who was also part of the Suns trade, has been among the surprises of camp, according to Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports (Twitter link). The rookie power forward, who got a chance to start Monday, is averaging 6.8 points and 2.8 rebounds in four preseason games. “He’s been such a pleasant surprise for all of us,” Billups said. “He’s just my type of guy, man. He just competes on every play, he’s tough, he’s aggressive. … He has confidence out there. I just love everything about Toumani, man.”
  • Anfernee Simons told Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report that his goals for this season include making the All-Star team and getting rid of his “bad defender” label (Twitter link).
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