Noah Vonleh might not be a household name amongst NBA fans just yet, but in the eyes of the Portland Trailblazers, he has proven himself to be an integral member of their squad. Over the past two seasons Vonleh has provided some much-needed depth to their youthful roster, and even taken the hardwood as a starter on several occasions as the team looks to make another run at the postseason in 2017.
Boasting the second youngest roster in the league this season – behind the rebuilding Philadelphia 76ers – the Blazers squad currently contains no player over the age of 27 years, with their average age sitting at just under 25 years old. Taking this into account, it’s safe to say that Portland fans have a lot to look forward to over the coming years.
Vonleh is poised to become a key part of the Trailblazers’ future as they continue to add the pieces that they need to become a powerhouse of the Western Conference, both on and off the court.
Establishing leaders within a team can be tough, but even though the Blazers have a young group of players, they have a number of guys that have been in the league for more than five years, and Vonleh told starting5online that they are the ones who step up and take charge: on and off the court.
“Damian has been here for like 5 years, and Evan (Turner) and Ed (Davis), Al Farouq (Aminu) 6 to 7 years – so those are the guys that we look to as our leaders. Some of those guys have been on a lot of different team, they’ve seen a lot of different things so they know how the NBA goes,” he said.
After growing up in Massachusetts, then playing high school ball in New Hampshire and college in Indiana, Vonleh was an east coast kid through-and-through. When he was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets in 2014, Vonleh was lucky to remain close to home, however his opportunities with the Hornets were limited to the point that he was relegated to the D-League before he was eventually traded to the Trailblazers before the start of last season.
Making the move to the west coast after spending 20 years on the east was an adjustment that took Vonleh some time to get used to, but now Vonleh speaks of his love of the city.
“I adjusted to the city pretty well,” he said. “I’m able to easily adapt anywhere I go, and I’m loving it here in Portland.“
Portland is currently one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. With a great mix of city and outdoors lifestyle combined with its great food culture, Portland is a sought-after location for many young Americans looking for a city to settle down in and raise a family.
With so much on offer in the city, Vonleh says one of the things that enjoys the most about living in Portland is the wide variety of high quality food on offer.
“I love all of the restaurants they have, I love to eat so going to different restaurants,” he added.
When asked about his favorite place to eat in the city, Vonleh was quick to respond: “I’d probably say El Gaucho Steakhouse.”
Like many cities in the United States, Portland is in the middle of a housing crisis with a large population of homeless struggling to find and afford shelter in the city. Working to help the younger people in his local community who are struggling with homelessness, Vonleh recently ran a sleeping bag drive in the lead up to the holiday to provide some much-needed help to those who need it most.
“It went pretty well, a lot of people contributed to it,” said Vonleh. “The main reason I did it was to help the homeless youth in the Portland community – and I think I did a pretty good job of it.”
The NBA schedule can be brutal for the younger players in the league. Facing up to 4 games every week, long stretches on the road, and very limited off days; players soon learn that their time off the court is valuable, and needs to be spent doing the things that help them unwind and get the rest required to perform at their peak.
Every player has their different ways to unwind away from the game, and for Vonleh, that includes hanging out at home. “I Just like to rest. Take naps, relax, watch some TV. Once in a while I go shopping, but that’s pretty much it,” he said.
Having already started in several games this season, Vonleh is already proving to be a solid contributor to the team whether lining up to start a game, or coming off the bench to provide support when his number is called. It’s having the positive attitude centered around helping the team that makes Vonleh and the Portland youth exciting to watch, and is setting the organization up for success in the years to come.
Feature Image: Rant Sports