I remember thinking around the end of last season, well before the draft lottery, "next year, we're going to see improvement and development -- things are looking up already. The fans are going to get behind this team even more." I was expecting Jeff Green or Corey Brewer to come play for us, but then won the right to draft Oden and also picked up Rudy. Good long-term moves for the franchise. Still, this season wasn't going to feature a bunch of wins but there would be buzz about the team.
In all of the Oden frenzy, I think a lot of fans (certainly not everyone, and not even most of the good NBA columnists like Marc Stein -- NOT Bill Simmons) have lost sight of the fact that this is a TEAM that is REBUILDING. This isn't the '84 Blazers with superstar and veterans looking for one more piece (Bowie) to put them over the top. This is a youth movement, a "talent farm" as I believe Dave put it. We won't know the answers to the Oden/Durant debate for years to come, especially after the surgery announcement.
So let's be patient and take the long view. This isn't about "silver linings", it's about recognizing that Oden is a big piece in a much bigger puzzle, and there are a lot of variables and surprises down the road that even KP can't predict. It's about maximizing potential and targeting a window (that won't happen for another few years, at least two but probably more like five to seven) to try and build a dominant team.
So let's not get all down because this year (a LONG way away from our target window) will have less bandwagon buzz around Oden. The true Blazers faithful know that there's a lot to watch for this season, and part of that will be trying to pick out which of the talents on our "farm" will bear fruit. Martell? Trout? Sergio (I hope so!) We know that Oden will be around for a long while, but most of the people on the team now WON'T be on the team in 5-7 years, so let's watch and see who steps up to the plate. I, for one, am VERY excited about that.
I hope that this makes sense and doesn't sound like an echo of what everyone else has been saying in the wake of the surgery. I've attached a poll asking which of the "unproven" guys (I'm leaving off Roy and LMA, which is a bit of an assumption but I hope not too much) will be around to help us win the Big One in a few years.