Updated: Now with 100% more Power Forward and Projected Rotations!
Like almost every Blazer fan here I have spent time wondering which players are here for the long haul and who I'll have to shed a tear for in the upcoming off-season. Looking back at last season it seemed almost destined that Jarred Jack was going to leave. Even though Jack was likable (to some), played great with Roy, and was one of the toughest players on a soft team, he had two deadly strikes against him: He didn't fit in with the next season's rotation and his upside didn't seem to fit in Portland's blueprints.
Extrapolating Jarred's situation to this season's team, I want to mainly work through a projected rotation to see if I can make a good guess at who stays and who goes. No favorites, cute bottoms or crazy 11 man rotations. Nate has hinted that he prefers an 8 man rotation, and I don't blame him. Its hard watching situations like Sergio last season or Frye this year. I hate situations where guys get only 10 rotational minutes a night, and according to Hollinger, this is not only rare, but performance is negatively affected. So, lets have some fun and trim 13 worthy and likable players into an 8 (or 9)-man rotation.
First, the center rotation since it is probably the most set in stone with Oden starting and Przybilla as the back-up. Personally, I think Przybilla's status as the back-up is cemented because Oden and LMA are such a perfect pair that it almost requires both of them to be on the court at the same time, and consequently off the court at the same time too. This means separate back-ups at both positions, and no 3 quality big man rotation at both spots (as I found out when I tried to pencil out the minutes for an Okur, Oden and LMA rotation... it just doesn't work). Portland couldn't asked for a better back-up center than Joel, and since he is on the team it's worth leaving alone.
Next, the guards, and since Nate doesn't want another 10 man rotation the guards are a perfect place to start trimming. A 3-man rotation at guard: Roy, Rudy, and Blake. Each can get at least 30 minutes, and based off the first few games this year, I think this is Nate's ultimate plan (but has since started to play Sergio more). However, I could see Blake getting swapped out for some one else (Hinrich?). But (for next season at least), Blake is a vet, can set up the offense, and is cheap. It's worth noting that Bayless is the perfect back up in this situation, since he can play both SG and PG, would settle for injury and blowout PT for another year and is currently on the Blazers.
Finally, PF and SF. LMA obviously starts PF, but back-up PF minutes are up for grabs. SF is where it starts to become a real guessing game, since it is mathematically impossible to spread 48 minutes between Webster, Outlaw, and Batum. I'm going to guess that the least likely to go is Batum (cheap, upside), leaving an either/or between Webster and Outlaw. KP will probably wait until the season is over to pull the trigger (especially since Webby hasn't played yet), but I am going to take the plunge and go Webster over Outlaw because of Webster's extension. Webster starts and Batum not only gets the back-up SF minutes, but also as much as he can handle of the back-up PF minutes to further cut down on rotation (but its worth noting that Batum starting and Outlaw backing up both positions might make the most sense). This leaves a projected 8 and 9 man rotations of:
Guards: Roy (34mins), Rudy (32mins), Blake (30mins)
F: Webster (32mins), LMA (34mins), Batum (26mins) or Batum (16mins), Freeland (14mins)
C: Oden (32mins), Przybilla (20mins) or Przybilla (16 mins)
Backups: Bayless (guard PG/SG), Freeland or draft (big PF), and random (SF).
Game Flow of 8 man, with small ball second unit:
And a 9 man rotation for teams with a true back-up PF (like everyone pointed out Batum is just pretending to be an actually PF to get more minutes) with my pipe-dream Freeland.
(This is just my example of streamlined rotations). My favorites, Sergio and Frye, don't make the cut. Neither did the loser of Webster/Outlaw. Ike also looks increasingly like he will try to find greener pastures in the off-season. In conclusion, I think Sergio, Frye, Webster or Outlaw, and Ike are all likely candidates to feel the pressure of a tighter rotation. Just not enough PT for everyone, and its time to stop giving players only 10 minutes of PT a night. However, I didn't add any new players for Reaf's contract or FA 09, which if it is a big addition would probably just replace some one in the rotation.
Basically, what I am saying is that if you pencil out every minute, there isn't enough PT for a solid rotation for everyone who deserves it on the Blazers next season. So be prepared to get your heart broken.
Now it is your turn, how do you see the roster shaking out based on your own projected rotations for next year.