20 Questions

I was going to post about the off-court side of the Blazers today but over the weekend I got thinking about our lineup and that got my juices flowing so the other will have to wait another day at least.  It just struck me as I considered our lineup that if this is the group we send into the beginning of the season there are a lot of interesting questions to be answered...

The Backcourt

--Who starts at point guard, Jack or Blake?

--How will Jarrett cope with the pressure either way?

--Will Sergio play well and consistently enough to earn minutes.  (One thing is for sure this year...if he's seeing the court for decent minutes it either means he's playing well or they really believe in him as our future.)

--If Taurean Green makes the squad can he surprise everybody and earn a spot in the rotation?

--Will Brandon Roy follow up his stellar season with a reasonable leap forward or will we see a sophomore slump?

--Can Martell find minutes as a backup shooting guard?  Come to think of it, can he find good minutes anywhere?

The Forwards

--Will Travis Outlaw earn the starting spot or at least major minutes?  Everybody thinks of the Big Three as Roy, Oden, and Aldridge but scoring-wise our big three could be Roy, Aldridge, and Travis.  Will this be his breakout year?

--Who is James Jones and how much will he affect things?

--How much will we miss Ime?

--Is Lamarcus ready to take a leap forward and become the main guy on this team?

--Where does Channing Frye play?  Is he a starter at small forward, a backup there, a backup center sometimes, or can he even play small forward as some suggest.  An all 6'10" and above lineup could be pretty scary for stretches.  Small ball THAT.

--Will we see a situation where the crowd is chanting for Josh McRoberts to shoot because he is the only guy who hasn't scored as the game winds down?

The Centers

--Can Greg Oden stand up to the pounding first physically, then mentally and emotionally?  What are people going to say if he has a so-so year?  More importantly, how will he handle it?

--What is Joel Przybilla's role on this team?

Coaching

--What kind of offense are we going to run?  Will we try to push it to the moon or play ball control and try to take advantage of our size?

--How good of a teacher and bench coach is Nate really?  As with every coach that comes through town there are arguments either way among the fans.  So far we haven't seen what he's capable of because the team has been so...well...nobody could have coaxed wins, or even a great effort, out of them.  This is a new team, however.  This year won't make or break Nate or even come close, but the next three years should show something about how he'll deal with potential prosperity.  For the first time in his Portland tenure he has a few tools in the belt.  How will he use them?

Off Court

--Will Darius Miles ever return to the team and in what capacity?

--Will the fans be back in droves yet?  And will they actually make some noise in the Rose Garden?

--Will this be the long-awaited year that we get through an entire training camp, pre-season, and regular season without a single messy off-court incident?

That's 19 questions.  I'm going to leave the 20th to you in the comment section.  I'm sure you have at least one I've missed and I'll try to go through later tonight and pick my favorite.  If you want to take an early stab at answering some of these questions too feel free.

It's exciting to me to actually have real issues on the table like this.  This is the first year in forever that feels like we might be on an upswing instead of rebuilding or flat-lining.  You really get the sense that some of these questions could have an impact on our future, which wasn't so in past years.  Other than Miles (and I don't know too many people who think the team's future hangs on that issue) there's not a single "Can Player X turn it around on and off the court" question in the bunch.  Also there are very few trade issues.  I don't know about you, but I think that both of those are good signs that we're back on the right track.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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