Photo / Bruce Ely

ESPN's Zach Lowe Likes Vonleh 'Showing Stuff'

by Cody Sharrett

The recent run of success of the Portland Trail Blazers and the emergence of Noah Vonleh over the last week or so have gone hand in hand. Since the Blazers' loss at New Orleans on March 14, Portland is 4-1 while Vonleh has averaged nine points and 8.8 rebounds in that time -- well above his season averages of 3.9 points and 4.7 rebounds. What's more, the 21-year-old Indiana University product has netted double figures in three of the last five games, compared to just four such occasions this season prior to last week. 

Media from around the country have taken notice of Vonleh's efforts as the Blazers push for a playoff spot. In his weekly 'Ten Things I Like and Don't Like' column, ESPN's Zach Lowe "likes" Vonleh's "showing stuff" of late: 

"You hear a version of the refrain from team execs all the time: "The hardest thing to do in the NBA is be patient."

Vonleh is finishing his third season, and second as something of a token starter in Portland. He has looked for large parts of that time like a bust. Charlotte hasn't sweated flipping Vonleh for Nicolas Batum, even as Batum has dropped off during the first year of a mega-deal.

But Vonleh would show flashes: a smooth long jumper, good footwork switching onto point guards.

The flashes have appeared more over the past two weeks, including in three straight double-digit scoring games. That doesn't sound like much, but Vonleh is still just 21. The NBA is hard for young big men who don't get the ball, and have to cycle through a bunch of rapid-fire decisions on every defensive possession."

Read Lowe's full assessment of Vonleh's emergence and his other likes and dislikes at ESPN.com.