Wow! It's taken me a few days just to get through all the posts and reactions to the draft. I guess I'd better get used to that kind of posting mania now. I thought I'd add to the pile of posts with my own long-winded, hopefully thought provoking take on our situation. This is going to be a long one, so hold on.
Oden vs. Durant.
This question has dominated most of the posts I've read. Excellent arguments have been raised on both sides for each player. In the end, either choice will be great. I have no doubt. Having said that, I'd pick Oden. Let me tell you why.
1. I think the debate over the players is lacking scope. It shouldn't be a debate over just these two players, but a combination of the players and their next level counterpart. For example, if we draft Oden, we can still acquire a high level SF through the draft or trade/FA. The SF we get wouldn't be as good a Durant, but could still be an all-star level player. That would give us a dominant force in the paint and an all-star caliber SF. If we took Durant, we'd get an elite super-star (likely), but we'd be stuck trying to man the middle unless we use LMA. I'm not opposed to doing that, but I believe LMA would be best utilized as a PF. In short, I think we'd be able to become a better TEAM if we took Oden.
2. The way we evaluate players typically leaves a lot to be desired. Things not listed on the box score need to be taken into consideration. How many shots did Oden alter by his mere presence? How many offensive rebounds did he tip out to perimeter teammates? What was the opponents FG% in the paint when Oden was in the game? How many blocks did he deflect toward his teammates, igniting a fast break? Oden excels at these. IMO, most of what Durant does appears in the box score.
3. What do you do in crunch time when the jump shot isn't falling? Don't get me wrong, I love a good shoot-out as much as the next guy, buy when the shot isn't falling, how do you pull out a win? Give it to the big guy in the low block and get out of his way. Oden can be our closer when everything else isn't working.
4. We'd face a single threat offense. With Oden clogging the lane and intimidating down low, opponents would be forced to play the outside-inside game, hoping to hit their jump shots and open up the middle. With Oden, the middle would never open up, allowing our perimeter players to be more aggressive because they know they'd be covered if they played too tightly and their guy got by them. I'm reminded of an old WWII Army quote where a German and US General meet after the war and one says, "So, who won the air war?" Jumpshooting teams can be annoying, bombing away from outside, but they'll never dominate the areas that count; from the free throw line to the basket. And that is how you win a war.
5. Oden would make the players around him better simply by his presence. He's big enough to get position wherever he wants to, allowing Jack and Roy to penetrate at will (ie Shaq&Kobe, Shaq&Wade, Duncan&Parker...etc).
6. Oden is a proven TEAM winner. 800-16 is his record. Daaaaammmnnn. I don't care who you are, that's a great TEAM record.
7. He's a warrior, not a screamer. He doesn't beat his chest or scream, the king of the jungle doesn't have to tell you he's king...you already know.
8. Opposing teams won't be able to simulate his play in an effort to prepare. Imagine the effectiveness of that come playoff time.
Now that you've got them, how do you keep them?
This is a topic that crept into many threads, and I thought showed how intelligent Blazer fans are about team building. Having Paul's deep pockets and renewed interest in the team is great, but running the organization the right way will prevent the recent (Blazers for sale) scare we suffered through last year.
I bet PA is patting himself on the back for buying the Rose Garden back before the lottery!
In a few years we'll have to make significant monetary investments in Roy, LMA, and Oden. I'm expecting those three to be the keys to a long string of championships. At the moment, I believe everyone on our roster that isn't needed could actually sit on the bench until their contracts expired without it effecting any of those key signings. As long as we don't saddle ourselves with a high priced FA in the meantime, we'll be fine. I admit I was really hoping we got R. Lewis in to fill our SF slot, but unless we can get him on equal or better terms than what Zach is getting, then pass on him. I'd rather see us build a stable of high quality role-players around our new big-three so we can utilize multiple lineups. Like a Mr. Potato Head <sup>TM</sup> with only the feet and eyes the same, you can have nearly unlimited combinations of players that excel in certain areas to compliment your key guys. Which brings me to my next point: the roster.
Odd men out?
With Oden, our main roster needs are set. Roy, LMA, and Oden are our future. Period. Everyone else will need to understand that they are here to help those three succeed, and they won't be compensated as well as they may deserve, except through RINGS. That means the character of the players takes center stage. Can Jack be our Billups? I think so. Can Outlaw be our Manu? Hopefully. Regardless, they need to accept lesser roles for the sake of the team's chemistry. I don't think Zach can make that transition. Much as I'd like to keep him on at least until the trade deadline in Feb while Oden matures, I think that would be a mistake. Roy needs to be the captain of the team. No co-captain. Roy only. He's got the charisma, ability and desire to make that locker room click. Jack would be a good right-hand man, but Roy should be in charge. Pryz, Outlaw, Ime, Jones, Webster and Sergio should be good soldiers. As long as they don't turn into cancers, Raef and Dan should be OK never getting off the bench. Keep Miles...miles away. When the dust settles, I expect the roster to be:
C- Oden, Pryz, Raef
PF- LMA, Outlaw
SF- Ime, (2nd rounder?/FA), Jones, Miles(retired?)
SG- Roy, Webster
PG- Jack, Sergio, Dikau
With that lineup each starter is playing the position that best suits them, and they can excel at. Having multi-positional players are great when you're talking about your top three bench players. That lets you keep a tight 8-9 man rotation nightly.
You'll notice that Zach isn't on the roster. I hope to see him traded after July 1st. We may not get the true value out of him, but I don't think it's necessary anymore. Ideally, we'd get Rashard Lewis in a sign and trade for the same contract terms that Zach has. As I mentioned earlier, locking ourselves into a max contract player not named Roy, Aldridge, or Oden is the wrong answer. If I were Rashard and saw what Portland was building, I might knock a few million of my demands for a great shot at MULTIPLE rings. Rashard would be my first choice because 1) He's a Nate guy. 2) a 6'10" slashing SF that can hit a 3 would be nice. 3) He can score, and we'll need that while the group matures. If Lewis doesn't want to play with Portland, move on. There are plenty of other quality SFs out there that can see the writing on the wall. They didn't call it the Oden Sweepstakes for nothing. It's a buyer's market in Portland, and if they want to catch a ride to the championship, they need to sacrifice to be on the team.
MC2, 2nd Rounders, and trades
There has been some talk here and in the national media about getting MC2 (Mike Conley Jr.=MC squared) to run with Oden. That would be a cute idea, but a bad one over the long haul. When you hire a "family", the family is only as happy as its least-happy member. So, if MC2 is unhappy, Oden is unhappy. I'd rather we avoided that potential problem. The cost and effort needed to acquire the #3 pick needed to get him would be prohibitive anyway. If KP decides to make it happen, I'll trust his process.
We have four 2nd rounders to use in this deep draft, and a few players would be nice to get. Demetris Nichols, Nick Fazekas, Glen Davis (just gotta see), and Morris Almond are ones I'd like to see in camp. We could stash up to two players in the NBDL for 2 years and we'd have roster spots open for the other two. It's a cheap way to bring in young talent that may or may not pan out.
I'll leave the trade talk for others. It makes my head hurt speculating that much without true data to build on. One guess, based on another guess, means your answer is a WAG-squared.
What does KP do with his time now?
Having the fist overall pick has just made half of KP's work moot. Or has it? What would a hard-driving new GM set as his goal now? Why, another top 10 pick, of course. He's got the gumption and the mozie (I always wanted to use those words) to make it happen. He's got a few assets to work with and a tradition of creativity. The problem he's going to face is that other managers might be 1) pissed that he beat the odds and is going to be a title contender for the next 15 years 2)fleeced Danny Ainge out of Foye, and then scammed McHale out of Roy for Foye and cash 3)was able to simply BUY Sergio from the Suns for 3mil. That's gotta be a lot of bad blood, or at least sour grapes there. Much as I wish him success, I don't think he'll be able to do it without promising a first round pick next year. I know if I was a competing manager, I'd find it difficult to help a team that's already that loaded. If I had championship ambitions of my own, I wouldn't want to face us in three years with the roster as it is, let alone with another top 10 pick.
Blazer-Sonics Rivalry: The Next Generation
OK, I'm showing my geeky side with that line, but it's still true. The I-5 rivalry is restored, at least for one year. Durant should make an immediate impact on the league, and it might be enough to literally save the franchise in Seattle. I don't want to go into all the reasons why it's a bad idea to move the team because we already know them. I'll just say that I hope the Sonics win every game they play, except when they play us. If that doesn't get them the arena deal, nothing will.
The Oden vs. Durant debate is going to be a never-ending saga, played out at least four times a year. How can you not LOVE that!!?? Add to that we stole their coach who is referred to as Mr. Sonic, and it doesn't get much better than that. Screw the L*ers, the NBA is going to be all about the Northwest within 2 years, 3 tops.
*NBDL- Proving grounds
How many players in this "deep draft" are going to get roster spots on teams? Much more likely, they'll be getting work in the Euroleague or the NBDL. I'm guessing the Blazers will stick a couple bodies there to develop added skills, or refine the ones they have. My point is that the NDBL could truly become the feeder system it was designed to be. No more will we need to draft on potential and clog a roster spot with that player while they learn the NBA game. I'm guessing that a couple new teams will be spawned with all the new talent. Eventually there will be an entire team devoted to just developing Portland's players. OK, maybe not. Still, it would be nice to pull a guy from there to replenish the roster, if needed.
1. This should make picking a President much more interesting. It's going to be an automatic home-run whoever takes the job. Whether we take Oden or Durant, the season tickets will still be bought, the sponsors will pour in, and the television rights will grow. I'll put my name in for that job now. Heck, I might get lucky.
2. Oden or Odin = Viking God of War. VI kings = 6 Kings. Kings = winners/champions. So, Oden equal 6 championships. Reasoning on cough syrup rocks!