Saturday, July 20, 2024

Blazer Fans Are Going To Hear A Lot About Cooper Flagg This Season

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Summer League may be ramping up, but the big story out of Las Vegas this week is Team USA’s training camp. Cooper Flagg, the 6-8 forward considered a possible number one pick of the 2025 NBA Draft, wowed everyone in scrimmages against the Olympic squad. The Washington Post’s Ben Golliver wrote about the rise of Flagg, and how he overshadowed the pro’s this week.

As soon as the gym doors opened to reporters, though, Flagg drew chuckles and gasps by taking over the scrimmage with an 11-point flurry to lead a select team comeback. The 39-year-old James, who knows a hoops prodigy when he sees one, sought out Flagg for a congratulatory pat on the butt after the national team barely held on for a 74-73 victory.

Flagg’s highlights lit up NBA social media yesterday, when he showed no fear against the NBA’s All-Star level team in scrimmage. As the only non-pro at the event, he looked ready to compete in a professional environment.

A former league MVP took notice. Some Team USA members declined comment, but the Suns’ Kevin Durant couldn’t resist expressing a little awe while watching from the sidelines with a calf injury.

“He looks like a hell of a player,” said Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant, who was sidelined for the scrimmage with a calf injury. “He’s 17 years old coming in here playing like a [veteran] almost. No emotion. Just going out there and doing his job. That’s a good sign.”

Flagg also has a connection to the newest member of the Portland Trail Blazers. Flagg’s mother Kelly Bowman Flagg was teammates with Clingan’s mom, Stacey Porrini Clingan, at the University of Maine in the 90s. Clingan passed away in 2018, and last year, the two players enjoyed a special photo shoot while wearing their mother’s jerseys. You can see it via social media here.

Flagg looks every bit like a special player, one who is about to be all over NBA media. NBA fans already can’t resist discussing their expectations. And with the Trail Blazers projected to be a lottery team in the 2024-25 team, Flagg may be inexorably tied to any discussion of the “why’s” of tanking, even if the best possible result would a 14% chance of landing the top spot in the lottery. But for some lucky team, the reward may be worth a lot of pain to get there.

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