The more astute among you may have noticed that our favorite team was missing from the pre-season preview. That's because they deserve a more comprehensive approach than the cursory view we gave the rest of the league. As a matter of fact, our in-depth look (hopefully the deepest you'll find anywhere) is going to look at the team from all angles. We'll do stats, pressing issues, and possible styles of play. We'll examine each player individually and look at their history, strengths and weaknesses, what we might expect of them this year, and how they fit in (or not) to the greater whole. It'll probably take a couple weeks to get through it all, which means by the time we're finished we'll be butting up against the beginning of the season. (HOORAY!)
We begin with a look at where we ended the season and what transpired over the summer, formatted just like we did for the other teams.
Record: 21-61, 5th in Northwest Division, 15th in Western Conference
30th in the league in scoring (88.8ppg)
30th in ppg differential (-9.5ppg)
26th in opponent field goal %
30th in rebounding
27th (tie) in assists
28th in opponent turnovers
18th in opponent scoring (98.3ppg)
23rd in field goal %
17th (tie) in three-point %
24th (tie) in steals
10th in blocks
15th (tie) in turnovers
Jamaal Magloire, Raef LaFrentz, Dan Dickau, Lamarcus Aldridge (R), Brandon Roy (R), Sergio Rodriguez (R)
Sebastian Telfair, Steve Blake, Theo Ratliff, Viktor Khryapa, Brian Skinner, Ha Seung Jin
PG: Jarrett Jack, Dan Dickau, Sergio Rodriguez
SG: Martell Webster, Juan Dixon, Brandon Roy
SF: Darius Miles, Travis Outlaw
PF: Zach Randolph, Raef LaFrentz, Lamarcus Aldridge
C: Joel Przybilla, Jamaal Magloire
The winning percentage tells you that 2005-2006 was a pretty bad year for the team. The stats reveal exactly how bad. (Quick hint: Think "horrendous".) Among all the team stats, four are particularly hard to fudge, and three of these these are usually indicators of team success. The indicative trio are scoring, opponent field goal percentage, and point differential. If you're weak in any of these, rebounding differential can sometimes make up the difference and net you some wins. The Blazers were 30th in scoring, 26th in opponent field goal percentage, 30th in point differential (an amazing league-trailing -9.5 ppg), and 30th in both rebounding differential and straight numbers of rebounds. For those counting at home, that's dead last in offense, bottom 15% in defense, dead last in point differential, and dead last in rebounding.
In the other "not that important but would be nice" stats, we finished in the top third of the league in only one category (squeaking in at #10 in blocked shots) and in the top half in only one other (again squeaking in at a tie for 15th in turnovers). We were poor shooters, did not force turnovers, and horrible passers. Adding insult to injury, we were 26th in the league in free throw attempts and a fairly distant 30th in free throw percentage. No other team in the league finished without a single-digit ranking in at least one of the statistical categories we've listed.
In short, we pretty much did nothing well. In fact when you look at it in black and white, it's a wonder we won as many games as we did. It's not like we were making runs and getting edged out by ill fate, bad substitutions, or other NBA gremlins. We were losing by a lot and losing consistently. In most of these games we could have played 16 quarters and still not won.
Besides blocks and taking at least marginally good care of the ball (a stat which was probably helped by our slower style of play) our best (relative) strength was shooting from deep, traditionally a Blazer weakness.
Individually speaking, of the top five shot-takers who ended the season with the team, only one shot over 45% (Darius Miles). Nobody averaged more than eight rebounds a game. (Zach had exactly 8.) Nobody averaged five assists. Only Miles achieved the very modest goal of a steal per game, and him barely.
The top four players in our rotation as projected at the beginning of last season missed a combined 90 games due to injury. Our top two centers missed 53 games between them.
Overall, we were the second youngest team in the league.
During the off-season we traded our two most experienced point guards, who started 78 of 82 games for us between them. We also traded our most experienced center and the small forward who started the most games for us. In these deals we lost four of our top six percentage shooters, three of our top five three point shooters, our top two assist leaders, and two of our top three assist/turnover ratio leaders.
We gained considerable size in both the front and backcourt. In the big spots we got more rebounding, a player with range and shot-blocking ability at the F/C positions, and a promising defensive-minded rookie. In addition to getting bigger in the backcourt, we got younger. We picked up two rookies--one with a promising all-around game--and an offensive-minded guard skilled at shooting from range but deficient in overall percentage.
So then, this is what we have to build on. At first blush it doesn't look all that promising. Obviously we'll go into more detail later but the best initial response is probably, "Well, it couldn't possibly get worse, could it?" (along with a softly-muttered prayer that we don't have to find out).
Tomorrow... Glaring Issues: Which are Resolved and Which Remain Unresolved?