Prior to this season, Jake Layman’s career was mostly associated with a joke that he was on pace to be the greatest scorer in NBA history (per 36 minutes, after two games). Now, it’s more about what he’s actually been able to produce on the court within the confines of his real playing time. Thanks to a combination of the injuries and slumps his teammates have suffered, Layman has been getting more regular minutes in the Trail Blazers’ rotation as of late, and he’s been popping up in highlight reels with the strong dunks and deep three’s he was known for in college.
His latest outing might very well be his best performance so far. In the 12 minutes he played, he ended up scoring 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Not bad on the surface, but it gets more impressive when you realize that this all happened in the second quarter. It didn’t matter who on the Pelicans was guarding him, Layman was going to score from wherever he wanted to.
It’s rare enough that a player hits heat-check shots at the exact moment that the crowd wants them to, and it’s even more rare for a crowd to expect a player like Layman to do it. But for 12 minutes, the 24-year-old had everyone in the arena in the palm of his hand whenever he had the ball.
Something that the highlight clip unfortunately misses is a moment in the Blazers broadcast where Lamar Hurd expresses his appreciation for Layman’s performance by saying he now understands why the Maryland Terrapins say “Fear the Turtle.”
“Jeff, we were talking about this the other night. What does ‘Fear the Turtle’ mean? How can you be afraid of turtles? Maybe it’s a snapping turtle or something. I am officially afraid of turtles. I fear the turtle. If this is the standard of it right here, this hot hand. Then I fear all turtles from now on.”
Surely that sentiment is shared throughout all of Portland now.