Hello, Blazer Fans!
Timbo from the Oregon Lottery here announcing the finale of our featured lottery game of 2009. Yes, sports fans, it is now time to check your tickets to see if you are a potential consolation prize winner in our special and oh-so-popular BlazerBillions Pick15 contest, the contest to predict the Blazers' OpenIng Day roster for 2009/10. Thousands and thousands of tickets were sold (thanks for the cash, suckers!) but there's only one winner out there who picked all 15 names, a gentleman who bought his ticket at a liquor store in Tualatin five days ago, Mr. P. Allen.
But several other tickets got 14 right, and as you will recall, that's good for entry into our drawing for the consolation prize, a Blazer beer coaster signed by gadfly and barfly M. Rice, with the able assistance of his handler, Mr. M. Barrett, who kept him from stealing it. So take a look at your tickets, if you will, and see how many matches...
THE BLACK UNIT
PG: Steve "Poppin' Fresh" Blake — Most of you lost the BlazerBillions game from the start, pegging Andre Miller as the starting Point Guard on the basis that he's a Top 7 player at his position. Your mistake, you see, is that you looked at this as a battle of individuals, whereas the smart money was on the guy who plays best with Roy. Miller needs the ball in his paws to make the magic happen. Roy needs the ball in his paws to made the magic happen. Two magicians fighting over one magic ball makes for an entertaining wrestling match, but a crappy magic show. Enter Perimeter Sniper Blake. Roy is the magician on this team, goddammit, Roy has a high comfort level with Blake (sorta like Kobe has a high comfort level with the poster boy of Meh Point Guards, Derek Fisher). Ergo, Blake starts, even though in a head-to-head matchup with Iron Andre in a skills competition of general point guardery, the only thing he does better than Miller is hit the 24 footer...
WING: Brandon Roy, commonly known as "BRoy," "Captain," "Boss," and "God" — No duh he starts. A couple screwballs theorized he might come off the bench so that Andre and Greg could play their two-man game as starters. Ha!!! This is Brandon's team — always was, always will be. Brandon failed to achieve chemistry bliss with Andre during the preseason (putting it politely and avoiding use of descriptive barnyard expressions) so, welcome to the White Unit, Top 7 Point Guard Andre Miller. Sorry 'bout that, etc.
WING: Nic "Sophia's Choice" Batum — Nic remains the best on-ball defender on a team of, ummmm, highly challenged defenders. He sits in the corner and hits the one shot he has to with regularity. He's a real cutie and his bitching to the French media about having to play "The Portland" (loose translation: sit in the weak-side corner behind the arc and jack up corner-3s) is also cute. We saw glimpses of greatness during his summer tour with Le Cordon Bleu, but we're back full circle with Sweety Tushie — a 15 minutes-per-game non-scoring defensive specialist. Will he grow during the year? No doubt. But this is a game to predict the 15, not the future.
BIG: LeMarcus "LA is a City in California" Aldridge — Along with Brandon Roy, this was the FREE SPACE on your Bingo card. The Blazers like him so much that they're willing to pay him about a 20% premium on a 5 year deal.(Good luck with that Oden negotiation, geniuses!)
BIG: Greg "Giggles" Oden — He's invested a summer to go from "raw" to "medium rare." Still some risk of food borne illness, I suppose, but way the hay more tasty than last year's version... The common mistake was to envision the passing acumen of Miller with the finishing acumen of Oden and to project that upon the STARTING unit. Whereas that might be fine for FINISHING — but Roy's Comfort Decides All.
THE WHITE UNIT
PG: Sir Andre "No Worries" Miller — No one is more surprised than Top 7 Point Guard Andre Miller that he's gonna start the season riding pine, and that includes nearly everybody who bought a ticket. Sir Andre can't hit the 3 ball, we knew that. Sir Andre can pass, we knew that. Sir Andre can get to the rack, we knew that. Sir Andre has a hard time playing effectively with Brandon Roy — now THAT ONE we missed. Nate saw it all along, one rock, two guys that need the rock. You mix them and you have a team that's always got a very effective penetrator on the floor. You match them and you've got Chocolate Avocado Pie. Chocolate is good. Avocados are good. Chocolate Avocado Pie is not good. Trust me.
WING: Rudy "Vote Me" Fernandez — He's cute and he's skinny and he's an NBA backup. And he'd better not get hurt this year, or he's liable to have little tyrannosaurus marks on his cute, skinny, little NBA backside. Yet another example why letting players go burn their summers playing for their national team makes for happy, tired, ineffective employees with back spasms.
WING: Marty "The Real Deal" Blazer — I officially proclaim Martell Webster to be The One Guy Who Really Gets It. This is about the team. It is about The Blazers. It is about The Portland Trail Blazers. It is about The Portland Trail Blazers of the Pacific Northwest. It is about The Portland Trail Blazers of the Pacific Northwest winning a World Championship. "What do you need me to do?" he asks. "Hit the open looks and run the floor with Andre," comes the reply. You go, Marty Blazer!
WING: Travis "Show Me the Money" Outlaw — Yeah, the White Unit has 3 Wings and 1 Big. It pisses me off. Damn you, Kevin Pritchard! Nevertheless, my own strong personal feelings about high volume, low passing Wings playing out of position to create phony Regular Season mismatches so they can hit their patented No-Trav-no-no-no-no-no- YES!!! fadeaways notwithstanding, Travis Outlaw is the correct answer to the BlazerBillions game. He's in his comfort zone off the bench and he racked up 17 points in the final preseason tilt to boot, proving something or other about the law of averages. But he's not gonna be a finisher this year, unless the team needs one big shot at the wire...
BIG: Joel "The Thrilla" Przybilla — Overlooked among all the crappy preseasons had by other Blazers is the crappy preseason had by Joel. With the white unit, his job will be limited to hauling down boards to feed to Andre and spending 6 fouls covering for the crap perimeter defense that he's gonna have to play alongside. No, Marty Blazer, I am not talking about you. Pryzzy remains one of the top per minute rebounders in the NBA, since technique and height do not go on strike, but neither will he start with the reemergence of Oden. Oh, yeah, one more thing — MB's inside info to the contrary, there is no way that Pryzzy opts out of the last year of his deal. He's paid.
ELEVEN TO FIFTEEN (had to be picked in order)
11. Juwon Howard the Wise — He "gets it," too. Coming to a Head Coaching position near you soon. A real veteran PF that somehow wasn't pieced out for a 6th Point Guard. Wonders never cease.
12. Jerryd "Rex" Bayless — Don't get hurt, other guards... Rex is coming and he's HUN-GREEEEEEEE!!! I'm sick of people saying The Rex is not a "True Point Guard" so maybe I will just agree with them. Rex is not a True Point Guard. Either is Steve Blake, since his passing is mundane and all he does is shoot perimeter open looks while Roy carries the ball. And Andre Miller is not a True Point Guard, since he plays the same essential game as The Rex, driving the lane, albeit as a gifted and experienced passer. So yeah, Rex is not a True Point Guard. Bite me.
13. Dante "The Inferno" Cunningham — Twice the player as Travis Outlaw in that he can actually play two positons: SF and PF. Travis is a Wing that can exploit mismatches if he plays out of positon but is not now, nor will he ever be a PF. As long as Travis is on this team, The Inferno is blocked and benched. Them's facts. But The Inferno is the real deal.
14. Jeff "Do the Robot" Pendergraph — I lost my taste for the Pendy pick (a) when he failed to impress during Summer League; (b) when he seemed to indicate his strongest goal in life was getting paid (see: some OregonLive "Meet the Blazers" thing or another). He's a nice guy, but so was Channing Frye.
15. Patrick "I'm a Point Guard" Mills — Paul Allen wants the Blazers to be the Timberwolves and he's willing to burn Ime Udoka to get there. Plus, if he let KP and Nate put Ime on the team, he wouldn't have been the sole winner of our BlazerBillions contest. And Paul Allen likes money.