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Jeff Pendergraph Is Dead Serious About Summer League

  1. Written by: caseyholdahl  / avg. rating: 5.0

    Jeff Pendergraph has been working out in relative anonymity since the season ended, but with summer league just around the corner he's ready to debut a new and improved JP 2.0.

    "I think there's a lot of stuff people aren't ready to see quite yet," said Pendergraph, "but they're going to have to see it. I'm ready to show off what I've been working on."

    While some players, especially those with guaranteed contracts, might view a couple weeks of practices and playing in games that count toward nothing to be an unwelcome diversion from their summer vacation, Pendergraph is viewing his upcoming sting in Las Vegas as a chance to show how much he's grown since averaging 10.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks during the 2009 summer league.

    "My confidence is really high going into summer league," said Pendergraph. "Playing last season in Portland gives me way more advantage than anybody we're going to play against, regardless if they played their before or if they played overseas. How I played last year, my role last year and the confidence I got from it compared to last year's summer league, it's not even close. I'm approaching it like it's a game, like a regular season thing. And I'm the go-to guy on the team. That's how I'm approaching it. This is like my regular season time."

    Pendergraph has always been confident in his abilities, but that confidence was bolstered by the realization he was one of the most veteran players on the court at the Trail Blazers' first summer league practice on Wednesday.

    "Me, Dante (Cunningham) and Patty (Mills), this is our team," said Pendergraph. "We're all the go-to guys, so that's just to be expected. Nobody gets mad at Brandon (Roy) when he shoots a jump shot regardless if it goes in or not. That's how I'm approaching the summer league. Can't nobody tell me (anything). I played my rookie year. I played well, now I'm here to kick ass. I'm not here to just play a role. My role is to kick ass."

    It should be noted that Pendergraph is saying this of summer league, not of the regular season. He's still at the point in his career where he'll defer to the likes of Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge during the regular season, but for a week in Las Vegas, Pendergraph, along with Cunningham and Mills, are taking over. Part of that, according to Pendergraph, is being more assertive on the offensive end.

    "It's the same mentality (from last summer league)," said Pendergraph. "Ain't nobody punking me. I'm still going to be me, high energy, but I'm going to try to score on offense, too. Every which way I can. Not just dunking and right hand hook shots.

    "It's a confidence thing. I'm more comfortable in playing, knowing I'm on the team. Coach (McMillan) knows, coach Kaleb (Canales) knows, (Bill) Bayno knows how I play. They watched me over the summer getting better in what I've been working on, so it's not like a brand new thing, like I don't want to piss anybody off and mess up my chances for the regular season. It's like, they told me in exit meetings what they want me to do, and I'm going to to it."

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