FanPost

Progressing answers to season-opening questions


1. Is Brandon Roy healthy?

2. Will Aldridge improve his post game?

3. Is Wesley Matthews a good signing?

4. Can Andre and Roy play well together?

5. When will the Blazers get healthy?

6. How is our depth compared to last year?

7. Will Batum become the scoring force that we want him to be?

8. Is Nate McMillan on the hot seat?

9. Is there a trade in store for the Blazers this season?

1. After a partially torn meniscus left Brandon Roy sitting on the bench for most of the post-season. People were hoping that the summer would give Roy time to heal and that he would come back in the same form as he did before. If this season is any indication, Roy is not the same player he was before. Roy Field Goal percentage is his lowest in his career, and his willingness to go to the basketball has dissipated with each passing game. Artest thinks Roy is injured, and I think Artest may be half right, after all Artest knows Roy's play better than most opposing defenders. Roy may not be injured that seriously, but he definitely is feeling the weight of playing 40 minutes a game. This has translated into the Slowest Roy as ever been. There were many times in the L*ker game when didn't make it all the way down the floor before the L*kers scored.

2. Will Aldridge improve his post game?

2. Aldrige started the season describing how much he is working on his inside game, and this season has been a mixed bag of results. Aldrige has done well when he gets a matchup against a smaller and slower defender, with the likes of Andrew Bogut, and the Smaller Front court of the Bulls. However when playing against more physical defenses that converge on him he doesn't know how to react. He has a hard time passing out of the double teams, and still cant go left very well. Aldrige still looks very uncoordinated in the inside and tends to get bottled up with no one else to go to down low. Oden's return should mask some of Aldrige weaknesses, but for the time being he is playing a lot of the center position, which is not his natural position. The Jury is still out on this one, but i would say that Aldrige still not as good as we would like him to be.

3. Is Wesley Matthews a good signing?

3. Wesley Matthews has shown flashes of the talent that we spent for him, with a couple of decent outings, with an 18 point game and a 13 point game, but his lack of attention to defense and his terrible outside shot are glaring holes in his game at this point in the season. This is ironic considering we got him for his defense as well as his decent outside shooting (38 percent 3-pt). He has not lived up to the dollars he has been given, left many fans wondering why Webster is gone, especially considering Babbit doesn't see any minutes, and with Pendegraph injured, the Blazers might be wondering if they should have kept Gomes. Matthews play was suppose to bolster our bench and have a legit 6th man on the team, however Armon Johnson has done better on both sides of the floor with his play than Matthews. We can only hope that Wesley improves his 3pt shooting and his defense to come close the amount of money we spent on him, but so far it doesn't look good.

4. Can Andre and Roy play well together?

4. The jury is still out on this one. Andre Miller, has been the one constant bright spot in virtually every game this year. While his defense is not much to be desired he really has shouldered more of the scoring load than he has in the past because of Roy's lack of driving. Miller and Roy haven't struggled that much on the floor this year, it has been mainly Roy who wont move without the ball, which ends up in Miller taking it to the hoop because Roy doesn't know how to move if the ball isn't in his hands, unlike Rudy and Batum. This is why it seems like Roy and Miller take turns with the ball than simply share the ball. The ball movement between Roy and Miller needs to improve if they want to become less predictable on offense. As long as Roy and Miller are on the floor at the same time, they need to improve to play off each other, not one at a time. So far it is still hard to say because Roy's game hasn't been up to his expectations.

5. When will the Blazers get healthy?

5. This question has been asked since Oden was first injured not long after he was drafted. Now this list has included Roy, Batum, Rudy, Joel, Martel, Outlaw, Blake in years past. Now we are still waiting for Joel and Oden to return, and hopefully see Roy get more explosive as the season wears on. We continually pray for Camby not to get hurt, or for another player to retire (Oberto). This year has already claimed the season for Elliot Williams, and Jeff Pendegraph. Joel is slated to return within the next 3 weeks, while the hope is that Oden will return by Christmas even if the team doesn't publicly say it. Batum looks to be past his injury of his shoulder, and Miller has yet to be injured ever, which is a bright spot for the team. The hope is that by January everyone will be back on the court, and no more injuries will happen again.

6. How is our depth compared to last year?

6. Entering this season much hype was surrounding our depth of player, Matthews was averaging close to 20 points a game in the Pre-season, Rudy was knocking down threes like none other (20-40), and Armon was playing inspired basketball (he still is). Now however the rug has been swept out from most of our bench. Webster and Outlaw are gone, Joel and Oden are injured, which leaves Sean, Armon, Wesley, Cunningham, and Fernandez as the primary bench players. The scoring punch the Blazers had last season has left the building with Matthews playing out of character, and Rudy is rushing everything when he is on the court. Cunningham has been a good constant for us, as he is efficient and plays above average defense no matter the score or time left on the clock. The biggest problem is the chemistry isn't what it once was. The bench last year knew how to play with the starting unit, and visa versa, this is the main reason why the blazers won 50 games despite injuries. This year is a different story, Rudy and Matthews are having a hard time becoming good teammates, and they spend a lot of time dribbling and looking for their own shot, which is fine if they could make them. But if the Blazers really expect Matthews and Rudy to provide the same scoring punch that they had before it isn't going to happen, this either means that the starters production is going to have to increase or that their minutes are going to have to increase. On a brighter note, Armon Johnson has become a bright spot on the bench that very few people expected. His defense is very good, and his shot is better than most expected. He could see starting minutes in 2013 if Miller is let go. He looks for teammates, but isn't afraid to take a shot if given the opportunity. Armon's mentality to the game is one that i look forward to seeing on the floor in the future. He will play his heart out even if the game is in hand (hence the 3 against OKC). Babbit and Elliot Williams haven't seen enough minutes to warrant a judgement, however Babbit did play well in limited minutes against Toronto. Maybe we should have kept Bayless after all. Overall our bench is not as strong as it once was, but it will improve when our Center get healthy.

7. Will Batum become the scoring force that we want him to be?

7. Batum has played a roller coaster season of basketball so far, but as of recently he is starting to take charge of the basketball more, as he becomes more comfortable with is teammates and gains the trust of Nate as well as his teammates. Batum has shown two sides to him, (1 He does well when the team is running and moving the ball. (2 He does terrible when he doesn't have the chance to move down the floor and gets stuck playing half-court basketball. Batum's 3-point shooting has been greatly needed, as he is starting to make more of them recently. Batum's defense has not been as strong though as it has been on the past, and there are many times when he looks lost and out of sorts when playing defense, especially when playing the zone. Many time he gets caught not knowing when to switch and then loses his man. Batum defense excels with straight man-to-man and he is trying to still get accustomed to the switches and zones that Nate implements in the game plan. I would like to see Batum with the ball in his hands even more as Roy is not proving he is up to the task right now. Batum's speed on the floor should not be ignored. Batum should improve even more as the season wears on.

8. Is Nate McMillan on the hot seat?

8. I know it is too early to tell and that Nate is telling people that he isn't taking an extension because he want to coach for one, however there is a chance that Nate hasn't been offered one at all. Granted, Nate did take this team to 50 wins last year, and the playoffs the last two, but if Pritchards departure is any indication, this might be Nate's last hurrah. If a healthy Blazers team gets knocked out of the first round of the playoffs, Nate's job may possibly be in more jeopardy than people think. Only time will tell if Nate can lead the Blazers to the second round of the playoffs, if not watch your back Nate.

9. Is there a trade in store for the Blazers this season?

9. If the Bayless trade is any indication the Blazers have assets that they are not afraid to trade away. Cho doesnt care who is traded as long as it makes the team better in the long run. Joel has an expiring contract and Andre Miller is also in the same boat essentially, as he has a team option that is attached to him, Greg Oden will also be a free agent. The problem is that there isn't that many scenarios that would actually make our team better that other teams would go for. Chris Paul is essentially off the table this season, as Monty Williams is leading them to a good season. The Rockets maybe open to trades as they are not doing that well as people expected, (maybe aaron brooks?) The Nets are open to trade Devin Harris, but he is essentially a young Andre Miller, except that Harris has been injury prone. Baron Davis in on the Block, but Blazers would never touch him. I doubt Steve Nash leaves unless the front offices wants him to. Carmelo Anthony could hypothetically go to the Blazers, but whether the Blazers want to do that is another story. If Roy continues to not drive in, then that is a possible, but doubtful thing the Blazers could do, however they would want Carmelo to sign and extension which probably wont happen. Cuban might try and trade Jason Kidd. Cleveland might trade Mo Williams, or half their team for that matter. In Reality there are very little trade options for the Blazers, in reality the most willing buyers are Cleveland and Carmelo, and Houston later down the road. There may not be a large trade this season, but we could see one at the next draft, barring a lockout.

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