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Entries in portland trailblazers (5)

Thursday
Nov182010

Blazers: It's Time To Move Past the Greg Oden Era

Yesterday, the Portland Trailblazers announced that highly touted 2007 NBA Draft pick Greg Oden will have his third knee surgery in four years, and once again will not play in the 2009-2010 season. This is the second time that a surgery will be required for an injury that was incurred without contact. The surgery will be a microfracture procedure on his left knee, the same one that had been recovering from the broken patella he suffered during December 2009. His previous microfracture knee surgery was on his right knee, endured during the Summer, prior to his rookie season in 2007-2008. This current injury seems to have nothing to do with the broken patella. It would seem that his body suffers something holistically, that heretofore has not been discovered. I hope the medical staff find the root cause, and soon, not from a basketball fan point-of-view, but from a human point-of-view. Can you imagine how painful it must be emotionally, mentally, and physically to return from so many injuries, in such a short period of time? I truly feel for the guy. If someone offered me $19 million dollars in return for suffering this many injuries and rehab time, I’m not sure I would be willing to take it. I think there is a lesson to be learned from all of this.

 

Greg Oden is in the last year of his rookie contract. On July 1st, he becomes a restricted free agent, which means that other teams will have the opportunity of offering him a contract, and Portland will have the opportunity to match the contract offer, if they wish to retain him. What seems clear to me, at this time, and to many others who follow basketball, is that Greg Oden’s body simply is not built for the NBA. I am not a physician, so who am I to say, but it seems that Oden suffers from some kind of brittle bone disease or disorder that simply will not allow the guy to play basketball. At this point, it would probably be wise of all NBA teams to simply not offer him a contract and let the guy return to normal life. It seems a bit barbaric to keep putting this young man in a position where he is likely to be seriously injured once more. Plus, I’m becoming convinced that even if he gets his body back, how can ever truly trust his body enough to truly maximize his ability on the court? And what is next? The ankles? The feet?

Even wiser, would be if Portland tries to find a suitor and trade Oden for some value in January 2011, before the trade deadline. By then, Oden will be entering his second month of rehab, and the Blazers should have some idea of how the rehab is going.

The center position on the team would be seem to be manned well this season. With Joel Pryzbilla coming back, perhaps as early as eight days away, it would seem that we just have to keep those two healthy and we have a shot at contending for another playoff spot, and likely first or second round dismissal.

My concern is what happens at the center position while going forward after this season? We cannot wait for Greg Oden, and our current plan for our centers includes two guys that are entering the twilight of their careers. If Przybilla shows in the next couple of months that he is able to be that defender, shot blocker and rebounder that he was before the injury, then we should definitely wrap him up with a new contract before the end of the season. That will provide a stop gap, but we definitely need to get younger at the Center position before the rest of our roster ages past the Championship Window opportunity.  Greg is tying up a valuable roster spot and a ton of money that could have been used on a talented role player that can help this team right now.

I don’t share the opinion that many experts have that the only way the Blazers were truly going to contend for a title was with a franchise center of the type that Greg Oden appeared destined to become. If you look at the past couple of years, we’ve been able to manage a spot in the playoffs, without Oden playing a significant amount of time. Even without Roy, who is also suffering his own injury worries, I like our chances. The Lakers are getting older all the time, and we have a ton of young, hungry, talented guys that could help fill the loss of Roy and Oden.

The long and short of it, is that the Portland Trailblazers should stop placing all of their eggs in the Greg Oden basket. Its time to consider other strategies for getting that Larry O’Brien trophy.

Friday
Oct292010

Portland Trailblazers Season: 2 Games Down, 80 to Go

We are only two games into the season, but some interesting statistics have developed early for the Portland Trailblazers of 2010-2011. While it is early, take them for what they are worth.

 

A lot is made of which team can score the most number of points overall. If you are interested in that sort of thing, then Portland’s ranking at 13th in average number of points per game is probably not all that impressive to you, but if you are like me,  I’ve always thought that metric that is more important when judging the offense of any sport team is the point differential between the team in question and their opponents.

Often, it may seem like a team may not put up a ton of points, but as is often the case, a team may not have to if they are playing extraordinary defense and winning by more than ten points, while implementing a solid offense. If you look at the stats with that in mind, Portland is the only team in the league that has played more than one game, and averages an 11 point spread on the margin of victory, and ranks #2 after Houston in overall number of points per game averaged by teams who have played more than one game so far.

 

When we look at the defense side of the ball, we see that the defense of the Blazers is definitely driving their offense. They are second in the league in outrebounding their opponents by a whopping 14 boards/per game, and they are averaging nearly 5 more steals per game than their opponents, whichis  also a best in the NBA for teams that have played more than one game during this season.

 

What is really extraordinary is that the Portland Trailblazers are achieving this with only one starting center, Marcus Camby, and a journeyman in Argentinian Fabricio Oberto, who did not get a chance to  practice with the team at all prior to stepping on the court in his first game as a Trailblazer.

 

We’ve been hearing from Coach Nate McMillan about what kind of defense team he wants, and it is beginning to look like he is starting to finally get that kind of defense that he has wanted out of this year’s team. Especially from LaMarcus Aldrige, Armon Johnson, Wesley Matthews, Marcus Camby, and Brandon Roy.

 

Their defense has really shined in the fourth quarter of late. Portland outscored the Phoenix Suns 31-11 in the fourth quarter of their season opener at the Rose Garden, and then outscored the Los Angeles Clippers 28-17 for a combined total of 59-28 in the fourth quarters of the last two games. If it were one game, I might be inclined to think that their opponent just had an off night from the offense during the fourth quarter, but when it happened again the next night, on the road no less, against a Los Angeles Clipper team that looks like it should have a better record than it did last year, it seems farfetched to say that it was just a coincidence.

 

Could this be the beginning of a solid season for the Portland Trailblazers, or merely the dumb luck of drawing two teams that are going to turn out to be much worse this season than they were last year? Who knows? But I’m feeling pretty good about the former.



Wednesday
Sep222010

Portland Trailblazers 2011 Expectations: Rudy Fernandez

Blazers Edge has been running an interesting breakdown of the expectations from each of the team members of the 2010-2011 roster. Today’s was about Rudy Fernandez.

The relationship between third year guard Rudy Fernandez and the Portland Trailblazers has been a complicated one. He was drafted while Kevin Pritchard was still General Manager, and they obtained him only after Phoenix agreed to send him to Portland for $3 million dollars.

At the conclusion of his rookie year in 2008-2009 he set a new NBA record for the most three point shots made by a rookie. Expectations were risen, but Fernandez has been at a position that is log jammed with Brandon Roy ahead of him, and faces further competition from the recently signed Wesley Matthews. He demanded a trade this summer, which resulted in a fine of $25,000 from the NBA head office for public statements that were detrimental to the NBA, but now, with training camp less than two weeks away, seems to have accepted that he will be with the team for at least one more year, as we learned from a translation by HoopsHype of an interview that Fernandez granted recently with the Spanish newspaper La Marca.

While some Trailblazer fans have quietly jumped off of the Fernandez bandwagon, urging the team to meet Fernandez’s request to be traded, I have remained hopeful that Fernandez’s skills can be made a part of Coach Macmillan’s new approach this season. I really think that Fernandez’s back injury last year, which kept him out for the first couple of months of the season made it impossible for Rudy to get in a groove with the team before all kinds of chaos went down with the season ending injuries of Greg Oden and Joel Pryzbilla that occurred in December 2009. Had Fernandez opened the season with them, I think that he would have been able to sink more of his three point shots because the middle of the lane would have attracted more of the defenders attention with Oden, and Pryzbilla.

It seems to me that it will be likely that Marcus Camby will open the season starting at center, at least for the first couple of weeks, until Oden is ready to go at full speed and can handle up to 30 minutes per game. Houston reported that they will only play Yao Ming a maximum of 25 minutes per game during the regular season. I expect Portland to use a similar strategy for getting Oden safely through the season. Both of these developments should help Rudy’s game. Even though Elliot Williams and Jerryd Bayless can also be competitors for his position, neither of these player’s game benefits from a clogged lane. Rudy will be called upon in three point situations where we need to stretch the court. This could still allow him to keep his nearly 10 points per game average, and lead him back to steals on the perimeter.

The question that remains for me, is whether not, after all that has happened this offseason with the trade demands, will the coaching staff trust putting Fernandez in the game for any regular rotation minutes of 20 minutes or more, in order to capitalize on him, in what will be the final year of his rookie contract. After this season, I expect that if Fernandez was able to increase his perceived value in the NBA that he will sign with another team for far more than the rookie contract allowed per year, or just return to Europe where he can earn way more than he will ever be able to earn in the NBA. Plus, there is the likely lockout next season with the expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the owners and the players association. If the owners prevail, whether there is a lockout or not, would likely mean not much more money for Fernandez, unless he really wows people in the NBA this year.

What do you think? Do you think Rudy Fernandez will stick around in the NBA for a second contract beginning in the 2011-2012 season? Or do you think he returns to Europe no matter what happens during this season?



Thursday
Jul302009

Now available....

Recently four more of articles have seen the light of day.

 

Enjoy my reviews of David Bowie’s 1996 album Earthling and Skinny Puppy’s The Greater Wrong of the Right.

I’ve made my argument for The Best TV Show of the 80s!

Here are my thoughts about how the Portland Trailblazers will make use of Andre Miller now that they have signed the point guard free agent.

 

 

Wednesday
Jul012009

Maximum LaMarcus!

 

 

Today NBA teams can negotiate contracts with free agents and with players currently under contract. For the Portland Trailblazers this means that they will be negotiating first and foremost with agents representing Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge. While it is almost a foregone conclusion that Brandon Roy will be extended a maximum salary contract that will probably range in the 3-5 years , I think there has been some expectation that the Blazers will not extend the same deal to LaMarcus Aldridge. To that I say, don’t go cheap Portland. I say emphatically, sign LaMarcus to the max! I fully expect that Lamarcus Aldridge will average 20 points and 10 rebounds this year, even in the face of an improved Greg Oden, a constant paint warrior Joel Pryzbilla, and the young backup forward buck Jeff Pendergraph.

 

Rumor has it that Portland is trying to sign Hedo Turkoglu as starting small forward and backup power forward. It is my opinion that unless the Blazers know that Martell Webster cannot play during the next season there is no reason to spend all of that money on Turkoglu! We have the backup power forward slot solved potentially between Jeff Pendergraph and Travis Outlaw. The position we don’t have solved is point guard.

 

I am aware that signing LaMarcus to a maximum contract will limit our ability to play around in the free agent market. Frankly, I think we just need the reserve or starting point guard spot filled. I am confident Portland can get Kirk Hinrich without trading a player. They will just have to use all or the majority of their salary cap space and trade exception to get him. They will need to let Channing Frye go, which rumor has it that Portland intends to do so.

 

I would only encourage Portland to sign Hedo Turkoglu if they already have an informal trade deal in place should he sign with them to be used to obtain the veteran point guard position, which I think, having observed Kevin Pritchard and team the past few years, is a very real possibility.