Well, the goal going into the season was making the playoffs and they succeeded. Hurray for that. Nobody on the team got arrested for driving a hummer on the sidewalk while smoking reefer; nobody was found urinating in the public library or snorting cocaine off the belly of a prostitute. "As" for citizenship all around...
But now comes the off-season and KP & Co. will have to make the big decisions on who stays and who goes... Everybody on the team will be reviewed, analyzed, graded out. Some players won't be back -- efforts will be made to overcome deficiencies.
So it's the end of the year and you're a fan. How do you grade each member of this team?
BRANDON ROY (SG/PG) -- Regular Season A+, Playoffs A+ -- Overall Grade A+
Superstar. This is Brandon's team. That is all.
LaMARCUS ALDRIDGE (PF) -- Regular Season A-, Playoffs B - -- Overall Grade B
LMA learned how to get low at the end of the season, propelling the Blazers to a higher level, then forgot the lesson in the first four games of the playoffs before figuring out the error and recovering in games 5 and 6. A promising future.
JOEL PRZYBILLA (C) -- Regular Season A-, Playoffs A- -- Overall Grade A-
Rugged, tough, gutsy. Although a guy with limited offensive tools, if Pryz wasn't hauling down boards, blocking shots, and defending the paint, Portland simply would not have been one of the top 8 teams in the West this year, plain and simple.
STEVE BLAKE (PG) -- Regular Season B, Playoffs D+ -- Overall Grade C
Blake had trouble with super-quick PGs all year long. His defense is not as bad as we all imagine it to be, but it's time that the blame for the crap fiesta that is Portland attempting to run the break is placed where it belongs -- on the starting PG. Will he be ditched in the off season? Probably not. Will the Blazers be an elite team with him running the show? Probably not.
NICOLAS BATUM (SF) -- Regular Season A-, Playoffs D -- Overall Grade B+
Nic is a defensive specialist who came up big, big, big for the Blazers when Marty went down in the pre-season. At only 19 years of age, the world is his oyster. Massive growth potential.
TRAVIS OUTLAW (SF/"PF") -- Regular Season B, Playoffs D -- Overall Grade D+
The #3 scorer in the first season proved to be a tragic failure in the second season. He will be roasted and toasted by many for his failings. I will leave it at this: not ready for prime time and probably headed out of town. Lots o' trade value. He'll end up averaging 24.0 PPG for Memphis -- who will suck.
RUDY FERNANDEZ (SG/SF) -- Regular Season A-, Playoffs B+ -- Overall Grade B+
After setting the rookie record for 3 point shots, Rudy established himself as a valid NBA player. His Game 6 performance in the playoffs was ineffective, but there's plenty of that blame to pass around. Exciting and a fan favorite and gonna be a round the Rose City for a long, long time.
SERGIO RODRIGUEZ (PG) -- Regular Season B-, Playoffs D -- Overall Grade C
Sergio started crappily this year, became a legit backup PG, and then floundered in the post season in limited minutes. At some point the Blazers are gonna have to cut the cord with him to make room for Baby Rex -- whether that is this off-season or next remains to be seen. An outstanding passer who learned to get to the rack a little this year. Still can't hit the perimeter jumper with any consistency.
GREG ODEN (C) -- Regular Season C-, Playoffs D- -- Overall Grade D
We see flashes of what might be through the ineptitude. He looks clumsy on the floor and racks up fouls so fast that his name should be Foster Farms. Raw potential. A project. Thank God Nate stopped trying to foist him as the starter, the Blazers took the season to overdrive when Oden started coming off the bench.
CHANNING FRYE (PF) -- Regular Season D, Playoffs D- -- Overall Grade D-
My least favorite Blazer on the court. Hell of a nice guy but the sooner they get Frye out of town and get him replaced with a REAL Power Forward, the better off we are all going to be. The soul of a (clumsy) shooting guard in the body of a big. Not acceptable in either role. Hopefully he'll be here for 30 years as a beloved announcer when his playing days are done. This is the acid test on KP as a GM, in my opinion. He MUST fix the backup PF position this year.
JERRYD BAYLESS (PG/SG) -- Regular Season D, Playoffs INC. -- Overall Grade D
We have seen the future and he is Rex. We have also seen that Rex was a worse perimeter shooter than Sergio this year -- and that is saying something. A project that might be 2 years off yet; but he's gonna be special someday.
Well, that's the basic 11 man core of the team.
Go ahead and grade 'em yourself...