Rookie guard Tim Quarterman played just 16 minutes during Portland’s 2016 preseason schedule, which was half the time both power forward Grant Jerrett and center Greg Stiemsma, players who were also competing to make the regular season roster, saw during the exhibition season.
But Quarterman, who played three seasons at LSU, was the first and youngest player the Trail Blazers signed to their training camp roster, and in the end, he earned the 15th and final roster spot, with Luis Montero being waived after making the team last season while Jerrett and Stiesma were waived after the final preseason contest versus the Warriors in Oakland.
“It’s a blessing,” said Quarterman after Sunday’s practice. “Just coming out here, grinding hard for training camp, going out there and putting the work in, putting the effort end. They ended up picking me so that was a good moment for me and my family.”
Though he didn’t see much preseason run, Quarterman’s age, upside and position, not to mention the fact he was signed early in the run up to training camp, always made the 6-6 guard the favorite to win the 15th spot, not that he was approaching it that way.
“Luis was on the team last year, Grant coming in with NBA experience, Greg coming in with a lot of NBA experience, so I never looked at it like that,” said Quarterman. “I just try to come in and work every day, push myself, go against the vets on the team and stuff like that every day and try to get better. I never approached it as like I was the frontrunner or anything like that, I always approached it like I was the last guy trying to make it to the front.”
While one could make a compelling case for keeping any of the four players vying for the 15th spot, but Quarterman, who went undrafted after playing three seasons at LSU, ultimately had the right combination of factors working in his favor.
“He’s a young player who has good upside,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts of Quarterman. “I think he has a good basketball IQ, he’s competitive. He really helps us from a roster management standpoint in practice taking the load off of Dame (Lillard) and CJ (McCollum). Shabazz (Napier) obviously had a very good preseason, but it allows us to have Dame and CJ on the same team in practice without one guys having to always be the point guard.”
Though there was some relief at making the roster, Quarterman knows there’s no reason to start feeling comfortable. His contract is still not yet guaranteed and the team could still cut him at any point and for any reason, so redoubling his efforts rather than resting on his laurels is the best way to ensure that he remains on the roster throughout his rookie season.
“It’s like I made it here and that’s good, but now I’ve got to grind even harder just to try to get on the floor,” said Quarterman. “It’s an even bigger grind now because of how long the NBA season is, how much we practice and stuff we’ve got to get in. Just going out every day doing the things that got me here and continue to do that, try to go out there and get better each and every day.”