A Center Emerges

No, not Oden. I'm talking about Joel Pryzbilla. This season, before Oden returned in the Miami game, Joel was his normal ineffective self on offense, but since Oden's return Joel's offensive stats have been on the rise.

Here are the numbers (I've translated them to per 40 minutes):

In first seven games (including LA) without Greg: 6.4

In the last five games with Greg: 14.0

Joel has doubled his offensive output with Greg Oden in the lineup. And even when you compare it to Joel's career marks of 8 points per 40 minutes you can see a significant increase.

The major disclaimer is that this has been over a very small sample size, and as the season goes along we will be able to tell if his offensive output regresses towards the mean.

I would argue the opposite though, I think Pryzbilla's offensive output will increase as the season progresses. The main reason: Greg Oden. As the Blazers incorporate their new center into the offense, more and more opportunities will be developed to get the ball to Greg in the post. These same opportunities will exist with Pryzbilla in the game. Other Blazer players are learning how to play with a dominant center (where to feed them, how to work off of them on dribble drives and other penetration, ideal opportunities for offensive rebounds and putbacks, etc...), and Joel is reaping the benefits.

I feel that Sergio is also a major part of this. His ability to get in the lane is better than any player on our team, except for Roy, and he is always looking to pass first. Sergio is the ideal point guard to accentuate a strong inside presence because defenses either have to collapse on him, which leaves Greg/Joel open, or let him get to the rim, which he has become more efficient at in recent games. This is aided more by the Blazers outside threats, which help to space the floor and create room for penetration and low post opportunities.

What does this mean for the team? With two centers that provide excellent defensive presence and increased offensive firepower, the Blazers will begin to rely less on their jumpers and more on points in the paint. I don't think that we will completely abandon the jumper because, with the inside presence, we should be able to create easier looks (this is already apparent, as we are among the league leaders in offensive efficiency).

What do you think? Is Joel's increased production a fluke?    

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