Read Henry's post first.
I just emailed in the following response and then realized, "Dude, what are you doing, you should just post it on BlazersEdge." I guess messing with Adobe Premier into the wee hours has me thrown off my game this morning.
On draft night, a wise man, when asked whether Oden might be a flight risk out of Portland after his rookie deal, told me, "Out of here with your pessimism! It's party time! This is as good as it gets for Portland fans of the last decade." After reading your Oden piece this morning I am inclined to return the favor today, the morning after Greg's first 20/10.
I love to nitpick Oden as much as anyone. The ball gets knocked out his hands far too often by much smaller players. He shuffles his feet like crazy. He relies too much on his arms to rebound. He generally looks at all times like whatever he is doing is the first time he's done it. I get all of that and cede those points.
But in the context of last night, in which the Warriors played four guards and Biedrins, a lineup in which you could add up the weights of 2 (sometimes 3?) of the GSWs and they would still weigh less than Oden, I thought Oden actually moved well. And if not "well," then definitely better than we've seen to this point. Better than last week. Certainly better than a few weeks ago. Better than at any point during training camp that was open to the media. At the least we saw progress (when for so long we saw nothing); at the most we saw Greg keeping up (mostly) with the pace of a fast NBA game for the first time.
In particular, I liked Greg's mobility coming out to set very high picks (all the way out to the three point line) and then rolling to the basket efficiently, finishing with authority multiple times. In contrast to Przybilla, a pick from Oden is an authentic pick -- giving the dribbler room to work and time to carve a path. Sure, Joel can lay the wood to someone but he doesn't pose any offensive threat himself so his picks are far less effective. The Blazers need more easy buckets -- they have for more than a year. Barkley called us out cold on that front last year and it was never resolved. Until now.
Tall, agile and active, Biedrins is Greg's nightmare matchup. Never in his life has Greg played against someone like Biedrins. Who else is even like Biedrins? On the defensive end Greg has a ways to go, particularly rotating as you mentioned, and Biedrins was the perfect player to expose these weaknesses. These flaws weren't nearly as glaring against the Hornets or Timberwolves-- more conventional teams with more conventional bigs. And Greg wasn't the only person flummoxed last night by Nellieball. Nate was too. Also not to be overlooked: Greg did everything he did last night with zero help from LaMarcus Aldridge.
Also, at halftime, after the stretch of ugliness you mentioned, both Greg and Sergio had a -11 plus/minus. In general, I'm inclined to attribute large negative runs like that to point guards more than to post men. Sergio came in frenetic, almost manic, which discombobulated everyone. I thought SR settled down nicely in the second half and Greg's plus/minus in the second half, with the game on the line, was even.
Your point about having our shooters standing around cooling is one the coaching staff will address. In the first half, we saw Oden and Rudy pass the ball in and out of the post 3 times on one possession, which led to a picture-perfect 3 from Rudy. On that possession, Oden showed he can do the quick passing game -- I'm sure the coaching staff will drill that into him here in the near future. For a team loaded with catch-and-shooters, the ball in Oden's hands attracting attention is exactly what we need. Blake, Rudy, Sergio, Martell and even Outlaw all benefit from having a clean look at the basket. The only person I'm really worried about is Brandon, who likes to have the ball in his hands at all times. Should we prefer Brandon making miracles off the dribble against double-teams every night or working in space with less touches but an easier road to the basket?
One last thought: not to encourage gratuitous rubbernecking but you did see the entire basket shake after one of his dunks, right? I don't need to remind you that we've never, ever, in the history of the franchise, had someone that can make the 24 second shot clock shimmy back and forth like it's doing the Soulja Boy. This is unchartered waters. Try to enjoy it, Blogfather. Despite the loss, this is as good as it gets for Portland fans in the last decade. This was better than draft night. Crystallizing talent beats raw promise every time.
-- Ben (firstname.lastname@example.org)