Could we start six men?

We know Oden, Aldridge, Roy will be starters as long as they're Blazers. 

That leaves 2 spots to fill.  I know what you're thinking, fill those spots with the best 2 players left on the squad.  However, I don't think Joel and Raef will fit well in those spots...they get paid the most, hence they must be the best players on the team (a wink here will help you understand the joke). 


In order to determine who to start, we should take a look at what needs are left beyond Oden, LMA, and Roy. 

In Oden we have a future post presence and rebounder.  We have good reason to believe he will defend the best centers in the league as well as anyone, and his help-defense-shot-blocking is great. (Awesome use of hyphens).  He has no offensive game outside the paint at this point, and we have no reason to believe that will change.  I'm not sure this is essential for one of our big men to possess, but it doesn't matter because LMA does anyway. 

Aldridge has some post moves, an above average mid-range game, and will even hit a couple threes throughout the season.   He's getting better at setting picks, and both he and Oden are decent passers.  He hasn't been a strong rebounder, but with Oden or Przybilla in it would be difficult for him to get more than 10 a game.  Defensively he is making great strides against the opposing 4, so we don't have a lot of weakness in the frontcourt.

Roy's skills are unique and overlap the traditional positions.  He certainly can handle the ball, but you aren't sure you want him to do that the whole game.  He can penetrate and score or pass, but his teammates aren't as used to receiving in that situation so it's not as productive.  His shooting is great, until you get outside the 3pt line, then it's only average.  Defensively, he's great against shooting guards, but he doesn't quite have the size for big small forwards, and he isn't quick enough for the point guards.  To be the most effective, he should be guarding the other team's 2.  Roy is a good rebounder when he isn't instructed to get back on D. 

What's left?

Rebounding: You'll need an additional 6-8 rebounds a game from your SF.  If Roy plays it, he could probably handle that.  Not seen as essential for the guards.

Shooting: You need at least one person that is a long ball threat to keep people honest when you go to the post as well as having an option for Roy when he penetrates. 

Penetration: Roy does well at this, so it isn't essential to have another guard who can penetrate, but it wouldn't hurt.  This also should be split into two categories.  Scoring penetration and Set-up penetration. 

Ball-handling: Probably need another player at least as proficient as Roy to take the ball up the court in case of trap defense.

Defense: 2 categories here.  We need someone with enough size to defend small forwards, but we need a different person with enough speed and tenacity to handle the point guards.  Dribble penetration has been an achilles heel for the Blazers this year, and the point of attack (nod to The Snapper) is where this needs to be confronted.  Oden likely wouldn't have the foul trouble he does if the guards kept the opposition from driving.  I'd say the PG D is the bigger weakness. 

So here are the players we have and their skills as applicable:


Blake: Shooting, and Ball Handling, Defense?

Sergio: Ball-Handling, Penetration (Set-up)

Bayless: Penetration (Scoring), Defense, Ball-Handling?

Rudy: Shooting, Defense?, Penetration?, Ball-Handling?


Webster: Shooting, Defense? Penetration (Scoring)?

Outlaw: Shooting, Defense? Rebounding?

Batum: Defense, Shooting?, Ball-Handling?

 Question marks indicate what hasn't been proven, and although these guys are young, they may not ever prove them. 


Some of the more intriguing combos:

Webster and Blake: Roy=SG.  We have great shooting, and an additional ball-handler, but there are question marks on defense, rebounding, and penetration.  Webster seemed to show an increased propensity for driving the ball in the preseason, but will his confidence be shaken while he's conscious of his foot.  We can't have too many guys just standing around on offense.

Batum and Blake: Roy=SG.  Shooting is there, ball-handling is there, defense is weak at PG, but sufficient at SF.  Still lack penetration, and Batum hasn't had enough minutes to show how consistent his shot will be. 

Bayless and Blake: Roy=SF.  Shooting is great, penetration and ball handling are well taken care of.  Defense is weird here.  Roy has to guard the SF, and either of Bayless or Blake may be undersized against the SG of the opponent.  I'd say you have Blake guard whichever player moves less, and Bayless guard anyone likely to penetrate. 

Bayless and Rudy: Roy=SF.  Rudy probably can't guard the 3s better than Roy, but he may guard the 2s better than Bayless, so the defense could work except against teams with big 3s.  Shooting is great, and so is penetration.  Ball-handling is there.  Defense and rebounding have question marks against big teams.  Against small teams however, this might be a great lineup for us. 

Batum and Webster: Roy=PG.  This lineup is assuming that either Batum or Webster is able to handle the ball with any kind of proficiency.  Shooting should be fine, rebounding should be fine.  Defense is great except quick guards could expose this lineup.  However, we could exploit most other teams defenses with such a tall lineup.  Would Martell or Nic guard the 2?  I'd say Martell.

Sergio and Rudy: Roy=SF.  Ball-handling, shooting, and penetration are great.  However, rebounding and defense could be questionable.  Probably too many people who need the ball in their hands to be effective. 


Final thoughts:

I don't like starting either Sergio or Travis. 

Because Rudy and Sergio play so well together, I prefer to keep bringing Rudy off the bench as well. 

It's hard to move Blake out of the starting lineup because who can shoot well enough to replace him?  That is until Webster comes back. 

I like the idea of Batum eventually playing with Rudy and Sergio in the white unit, but I want to see better wing defense from whoever replaces him.

None of our SF rebound that well.


What are your combos of choice and why?

 Do we currently have the personnel for the 2 spots available?

What am I missing?

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