Our championship window is the rest of Roy’s career (give or take 7 years). The current L*ker team will be around for about 3-4 years. But what we are really worried about is the possibility of an East all-star team. For example, if Chicago gets Bosh and Wade (their oldest starter at 28).
This means we will have to be able to beat a team of this caliber if we want to win a championship.
Can the current Blazers win a series against this team, even assuming everyone is healthy and develops?
In our opinion, it’s possible but not likely. We NEED a PG and a second scorer.
We’re coming at this under the assumption that Nate McMillan is the long-term coach, which means his system is our long-term system. As many people have pointed out, guys like Devin Harris and Tony Parker are extremely talented but would not fit in this system. After Phoenix doubled Roy or LA and watching them kick it out to a wide-open Miller who couldn’t burn them for the double team we’re convinced we need a point guard who can shoot the three. You say Tony Parker led a championship team, we say yes, but in a different system. Dave laid out a very thoughtful description of our ideal point guard:
“On offense he would be able to hit the three but not be totally inept penetrating. He'd be able to strike quickly with the jumper off of the screen. He would be equally comfortable throwing the fast-break bomb or a simple post entry pass in the halfcourt. He would normally score in the mid-teens but be dangerous enough to give you 20 upon occasion. He would understand that this is Brandon Roy's team, play off of him, and be able to kick Brandon in the butt and tell him it's time to take over while still creating enough opportunities for the other players in Brandon's down time to keep them happy. He would not turn the ball over. He would be equally comfortable with the ball in his hands and deferring to Roy, receiving the catch-and-shoot.
On defense he would move his feet and keep his man in front of him. He'd be tough enough to fight through a screen, quick enough to go behind one, and smart enough to know which one to do without being told. He'd basically bookend Roy with Batum on the other side, taking the pressure off of Brandon to be a defender.
He'd be 6'4" or taller, have long arms and huge hands, be someone you'd trust holding your baby, but be cute enough to make my wife interested in watching too.
Which of these traits would be most important requires forecasting how the Blazers will end up playing in the future. I'm half hoping that Portland's frontcourt will be so dominant defensively that we can ease up on the defensive requirements a little, letting the backcourt just score. But if the bigs end up leaky you must have a defender back there or you're just going to end up as a glorified version of the Raptors.” - Dave
So looking at this list, the guy who comes to mind is Gilbert Arenas. With Washington getting the first pick yesterday (we assume they will do the smart thing and draft Wall).
So, according to Dave’s analysis the Pro’s and Con’s of Arenas are:
Three Point Shooting
6’4” 215 lbs
Other Pros we thought of:
• His connection with Bayless
They are both work-a-holics, went to same school, SG to PG transition, similar playing style, hate to LOSE (similar attitude), Gilbert can guard SG allowing Bayless to guard PG - can play together (ATTACK!!)
• He would be easy to get and cost little in terms of players traded
Playing off Roy/defer to Roy
Comfortable playing off the ball
• Defense isn’t as critical as Dave said (we have to assume Greg is going to be that amazing for championship talk anyhow)
• It’s always difficult to play two ball demanding, awesome players, but to win a championship [Boston, Lakers, Chicago??...] all-stars need to play together to win
Other Cons we thought of:
• Attitude (duh)
• We’re hoping that with Nate McMillan, good teammates, and a winning team, Arenas could be controlled (Phil Jackson has controlled Artest). He wants to win. He has always been this way, and always does what it takes for this to happen. For example, he came off bench after missing most of a season because of team chemistry. He also turned down a “full” max contract to allow the team more room to improve. Finally, some analysts believe next season Arenas will be out to clear his name as a team player and a person.
• Contract (4 years, 80 million)
• Knees (3 knee surgeries)
• His knees and contract make this an EXTREMELY high-risk move. But as Coup from Rip City Project said in a recent discussion about Oden:
Of course, some will want him to go because he’s a risk, because those knees are unpredictable...But safety gets you to the playoffs in the NBA, risk gets you to the title
Plus, Arenas would give us that second scorer we need and be close to the perfect PG. If he learns to play with Roy and is healthy, he could be the last piece to the puzzle.
If you are still not convinced, or disagree, consider who is the next best PG? Again, based on Dave’s description, if you let go of size then a few other people start to kinda sorta fit the bill. Narrow this to guys that we have a realistic shot at getting and we came up with:
Mike Conley Jr.
Raymond Felton (FA)
Hinrich and Gibson don’t penetrate or create for other players well enough to be a major upgrade over Blake. While defense isn’t the most important criteria Calderon is incredibly bad. Plus, Hinrich and Calderon have ridiculous contracts (considering their value). We don’t see a whole lot of difference between Felton, Collison, and Conley. Collison is probably the best but is the least proven and hardest to get. Felton and Conley then become the two primary targets. Felton is a better defender but he’s grown up in Carolina and Jordan supposedly wants him back. So we would probably have to offer him a very large contract for 4+ years and we’re not confident enough in him to do that.
Memphis is trying to get rid of Conley and there is the added bonus of his past relationship with Oden. Plus, his contract will only have one year left, so if he doesn’t work out we’re in the same position we were in anyway (assuming we weren’t going to pick up Miller’s third year). His decision-making and ability to lead a team have been questioned by Memphis fans (although he still has a >2.5 A/TO ratio). However, in a more defined role on a better team where he would be asked to shoot threes and penetrate to keep a defense honest, he seems fully capable to do well. Plus, he’s only 22 and has a lot of room to grow.
So it appears the next best PG for our team is Conley. Could our team win a championship with Conley at PG? Possibly, but against the Celtics or Chicago I could see Rondo or Rose killing us every time. And against the Lakers we basically are even at the one position we can exploit and they’re trying to upgrade at PG this offseason (maybe with Arenas?). Plus we still wouldn’t have our second scorer.
It becomes more interesting if you pair Conley with a second scorer. We just discussed PG, and SG and C are locked, the two remaining positions for this role are…
SF: The available SF’s with the ability to be a second scorer are:
Outlaw and Howard are FA and thus easily gettable. However, we feel Maggette is also easily gettable and much better option (20 ppg). Gay would be too expensive. Iggy and Johnson are also expensive and are really SG. This leaves Granger and Maggette. Granger is obviously better and we heard Dave mention Granger as being potentially available in his podcast. He could be a perfect compliment to Roy with his off ball amazingness.
PF: The only available PF that is an upgrade over Aldridge is Bosh. He is good. Nuff said
1. Get Arenas (Best)
2. Get Bosh and Conley
3. Get Granger and Conley
4. Get Maggette and Conley (Worst)
Why we put the options in this order:
Maggette is by far the worst player so that option is last. Granger is third because (a) Bosh is better upgrade over Aldridge than Granger is over a developed Batum (b) Roy and Bosh has more potential for better team offense than Roy and Granger (think Bryant Gasol) (c) Bosh over Granger makes us less reliant on jump shots.
The reason we think Arenas is better than Bosh + Conley is a little more complicated. We made this decision by comparing the Blazers to the championship teams of the L*kers, and Boston.
L*kers comparison :
On offense, it appears that we have a better fit with the Celtics as the L*kers rely heavily on Bryant being the best and the chemistry between Bryant and Gasol. While Roy is awesome he is not up to Bryant’s level and his chemistry with Bosh is not guaranteed as seen by the lack of cohesion with Roy and Aldridge. The Boston comparison depends on Batum becoming much more like Allen but we feel like this has a better chance of happening than Roy Bosh becoming like Bryant Gasol. In addition, Rondo and Pierce are both effective even though their chemistry isn’t off the charts and they both like the ball in their hands. On defense, we would be more similar to Orlando as we would rely on a dominant center.
This leads us to believe Arenas would be the better option. The other benefit would be that since he appears to be easy to get (Miller and Pryzbilla should do it) this gives us potentially enough pieces left to trade up in the draft for Wesley Johnson.
This would give us a playoff rotation of:
Arenas (36 min) Bayless (12 min)
Roy (36 min) Bayless (12 min)
Batum (30 min) Johnson/Cunningham (18 min)
LA (36 min) Camby (12 min)
Oden (30 min) Camby (12 min)
The only long-term problem would be replacing Camby. We feel a decent project with a lot of upside would be Ian Mahinmi. He is 6’11”, cheap, super athletic, could play both PF and C, and we would love to see him learn from Camby. For the season, assuming you trade Rudy to get Johnson a backup SG would be nice to cut down on Roy’s and Arenas’ minutes. Raja Bell would be a good veteran who is a good defender.
The final option would be to wait. This would mean keeping Miller for next year and figuring out PG and second scorer next summer or in the draft. Torrance, Randle, Jones, and Bledsoe all are interesting options but I don’t have a ton of faith on them becoming our championship PG let alone a second scorer. Batum and/or Bayless could develop into those roles but I’m not sure I’m confident in that either. Plus, I don’t foresee any better options in the next few years.
So the fundamental question comes down to how good are the Blazers? How good could they be? And how good can Roy be? In our opinion, Roy is going to need a prolific scorer to help him with the scoring load. Is signing Arenas incredibly risky? Yes, but how many more opportunities are we going to have to sign a prolific scorer at our one position of need?
So what do you guys think? Do the Blazers need another prolific scorer to win a championship? If not, why? If yes, then who?
The biggest thing that would make us hesitate is if Arenas’ contract prevented us from getting a better fitting second scorer / right guy in the next few years if he didn’t work out. We don’t see a 20 ppg scorer becoming available anytime soon but you never know. And do you really want to wait four years to find out?<!--EndFragment-->