"We just need a solid point guard, a veteran guy who makes great decisions and hits big shots,"
From the man himself, Brandon Roy:
NICE read on Brandon Roy and his thoughts on the upcoming season. How did we luck out to get this guy? IMO hw will be the reason that this team will stay together, players will gravitate towards him and want to be on his team.
The Blazers first priority has to be getting this guy locked up for the full 6 years when his time comes up. Once he is a long term Blazer, LMA, Oden and the rest of the crew will follow suit, as the more you read of him the more you gain respect for the guy, that quiet confidence and underlying greatness, not just scoring or stats, but doing the little things that are necessary to win and make this team better.
So far we have come from the days of having Zach as our leader, Reuben our energy, and Darius our core.
People seem to question the validity of our team, but much as we were left for dead at the beginning of last season, we will be again underestimated IMO, even with our already lofty predictions.
I would now like to pose the question of: What if?
In looking at our seasons to come, some here think that due to our youth and inexperience, we will take a while to grow into a team that is dominant in the postseason, saying that our time will not be until 2-3 seasons from now.
Yet I would like to offer another version of that story, one that will hopefully be more truth than exaggeration.
Kevin Pritchard has done a masterful job in bringing in team oriented players whose only goal is to win. Paired with the fact they are tireless workers with their natural talent and you have a recipe for success, possibly much sooner than we imagine.
Looking back our team last year we went 41-41 in the ultra competitive western conference, as a poor rebounding, jump-shooting team, all of this coming in as the 3rd youngest team in the history of the league. Nobody in their wildest dreams even imagined that a .500 season would be possible after the loss of Oden and our leading scorer and rebounder, but we proved that working as a team will far and away outshine individual accomplishment.
With this new infusion of 3 top ten draft pick talent, we will now have Bayless to fill in for Jack, Rudy to fill in for Von Wafer, and Oden step ahead of Joel. With this massive upgrade in talent, and a good coach at the helm guiding them the possibilities are limitless. More importantly, Pritchard has added players that will relish and thrive being pushed and react to challenges rather than back away from them.
I think of Utah in 2006-07 and look to see that their 2 main players had no experience in the playoffs at all and Williams was in his second year in the league. What did they do they made it all the way to the WCF. A precedent has been set with younger teams pushing deep into the postseason.
I am also reminded of the Hornets of this year and their run to the WC semis and am struck by their makeup, namely how experienced they are at each position. If you take a close look at their roster, the most experienced guy is Stojakovic, both playoff and regular season. West is the second leg of the NO triumvirate but has had little playoff experience, only 19 games in 2 years. However the main engine that runs NO is Paul who has had no playoff experience at all. How did they manage to take the SAS to 7 games and come that close to beating them with their engine wetting his feet for the first time in the playoffs?
Now granted we do not have Chris Paul but our main creator is entering his 3rd year in the league and if you compare the rest of the roster we are far superior to them.
Their starting lineup of
would be far outstripped with that of ours
Not to even mention our 2nd unit.
And as I said our main playmaker will be entering his 3rd year as well.
With that 3rd year player as our leader, we can only think what our new pieces will bring to us, mainly Oden who will be able to rebound and provide us with a scoring presence in the low post for the first time in a long time. We had little to no inside presence that could score until after the all star break when LMA finally figured out how to bang down low, which isn't his strength anyways. We now have a base foundation to work off of so that if we need an easy bucket we can dump it into the post and let him go to work. Add to this the upgrade in shooting that Bayless should bring over Jack and Rudy over Wafer, we should more than make up for the loss of Jones. With Travis turning into Super Trout this year and Webster hopefully taking another step forward we should be able to create a situation where we always have a dynamic SF on the court at all times.
Which brings me to the question of what if.
What if Brandon Roy has learned how to truly run the team and is ready to carry it on his back
What if Greg really is the second coming of Shaq, Robinson, Ewing, or Russell and puts up comprable #s?
What is LaMarcus gets tough and can pound the ball down low as well as being able to hit the 15ft J?
What if Rudy comes in and can play like Ginobili off the bench providing us a kickstart?
What if Bayless' weaknesses as a PG are completely masked playing alongside Roy allowing him to do what he does best, score the ball?
What if Travis has learned how to be a professional and to work all year round to make that next step in his development?
What if Webster learns to defend and can raise his 3pt % that much more?
What if all those last year who scoffed at the notion of us being anywhere other than the bottom of the league once again tell us that there is no way that we can get to the WCF let alone the finals?
Now naysayers will come and pick apart every what if to the highest degree, "That's a LOT of 'What ifs' they all can possibly come true." But with Nate, Dean, Monty and MoLuc at the helm, Brandon providing leadership on the court and the surprising success of last year, I can't help but be optimistic and think that we have something so precious here that everything else will fade away under its intense glow, perhaps not everything this year, but much more and quicker than expected.
And at the heart of it all we have the next great Blazer player, Brandon Roy, whose leadership and play will guide us to that next level, perhaps one only reached by a select few teams.
So ask yourself: What if?