Keepers

Having reached the halfway mark of the season and having a short break, we're going to take a couple days to go over some big picture items.  Today we're going to pose a question concerning the future of the Blazers and which players you most want to be a part of that future.  It works like this...

I'm going to ask you to pick six "Keepers" from our roster.  Only six, and that's firm.  No hemming and hawing.  You can use any criteria you want but it would be cool if you explained why these guys are on your "Keeper" list and whether that is based off of, or flies in the face of, the season they've had so far.  Of course the Blazers will probably end up keeping more than six of their current players, but you never know.  Defining your Keepers doesn't mean that you'd get rid of everybody else nonchalantly.  It just means that these six in particular are the heart of your vision for the team's future.

I'll start the ball rolling with mine.

1.  Brandon Roy

This should be obvious as he's probably on the list of all but the most fringe thinkers.  (I'd love to hear explanations, though, of why Brandon shouldn't be on this list if anyone really feels that way.)  His scoring continues to rise.  His feel for the game continues to develop.  He's as good at setting people up and contributing in other ways as ever.  His only concern is injuries, which seem to mount up every season.  Nonetheless I don't see any way you'd want to get rid of him.

2.  Lamarcus Aldridge

Lamarcus' game also continues to develop.  He's still up and down a little but his scoring average is starting to solidify.  I believe we'll eventually make even more of a move to feature him on offense.  You want more driving, free throws, defense, and defensive rebounds but he's still got potential for all of those things.

3.  Greg Oden

Even in limited minutes of limited brilliance his impact on the game has been decent this season.  Teams have to account for him when he's on the floor.  He'll only demand more attention as his game develops.  Even if he continues to struggle offensively for a while that frees things up for everyone else.  He's already a good rebounder and he's learning how to defend the interior without fouling.  More energy and consistency would be nice but there's no way I'd bail on him or even think of it.

4.  Rudy Fernandez

This guy is going to be no worse than fourth on most people's lists.  I love his facilitating and the way he spreads the court more than his overall offense, which needs some polish.  He's impressive for a rookie though.  Defense is also a work in progress.  But this guy has the potential to be a great 6th man, a piece of a contender's puzzle, and an insurance policy for Brandon Roy.

5.  Nicolas Batum

I love the way Nicolas moves on the court.  I like his defensive commitment.  I like his ability to rebound.  He needs a lot more reps on offense but you can see the potential there.  Ask me which Portland rookie outside of Oden has the best chance of actually being a long-term starter for the team and I'm going to tell you Batum.  I don't think he's necessarily the starter this year if Martell comes back, but that combination of athleticism, defense, slashing ability, and hopefully eventually a consistent distance shot will make him a nasty complement to the other starters.

6.  Joel Przybilla

I'm mostly trying not to base these off of just this half-season but Joel's play and the freedom it's given us to work through Oden's growing pains seem indispensible right now.  We always needed to keep another big man besides the starters and in the past I leaned towards one of the forwards maybe who could play some center in a pinch.  Joel's play has changed that.  He's the back-up we need for Oden now and the emergency option in case Oden goes down during a critical playoff run.  Plus he's got the temperament to fill those roles.

So there's my six.  Who are yours?  Share in the comments.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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