It is clear to me that the Blazers will be a perennial playoff team for the next decade. If this team can get the 6th seed with the amount of key injuries they endured, then nothing is going to keep them from the post-season. I think it is safe to say that no one in this organization (players, management, fans) is completely satisfied with just getting to the dance every year. Nothing short of moderate playoff success and "contender status" will satisfy any of us on this blog. But as the Blazers are right now, will they ever be considered serious title contenders? If the regular seasons means anything, and this is up for serious debate, then the Blazers can legitimately say their future looks bright.


In the 08-09 regular season this team tied for the 2nd best record in the Western Conference; a feat reached with one of the youngest rosters in the league. All looked promising. A bona fide All-Star. A dominant (when healthy) center. A deep bench. Prospects. A GM on the rise. With home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, the Blazers laid an egg and never fully recovered from the pounding in game 1. Not completely surprising for a team going through playoff puberty.

In the 09-10 regular season this team had suffered a bevy of very crucial injuries to very crucial players, but still managed to get the 6th seed in the West. Facing an opponent that they had success against in the regular season, the Blazers showed a glimmer of hope, even with an injured Roy, with a game 1 victory. Losing 4 of the next 5 games (including 2 at home) the Blazers were ‘gone fishin'.


I was talking with a friend of mine recently about the NBA, and he brought up an interesting point-of-view; the regular season is absolutely nothing like the post season. Everyone knows this. But he takes it to a level that I had never thought about before. He believes every aspect of the how the game is played is different. Every player is giving 100%. The starting 5 become infinitely more important because they are each playing the majority of the minutes due to the growing importance of the game and the schedule (there are no back-to-backs in the playoffs, so players have less reason to "conserve energy" for the next game. An issue I think needs to be dealt with, but that is for another day). The power that the officials have on the outcome is paralleled by none, most notably during the post season. His point hits home because he feels that the current makeup of the Portland Trail Blazers will not allow for playoff success. There is a certain moxie that is essential to have for a Champion in this league. Let's take a look at the makeup of the teams that have won championships in the past decade.


San Antonio Spurs: champs in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007

Makeup: Led by Mr. Fundamental (AKA Tim Duncan), the Spurs won each of their 4 championships with a painfully good "grind" style. Always a top 5 defense in terms of PPG, the Spurs continue to be considered a contender year in and year out, despite the core of Duncan, Parker, Manu being on the backend of each of their respective careers.

These guys give hope to all small market teams looking for playoff success. The Spurs are the only reason that I do not think David Stern can control, with 100% effectiveness, which team wins the NBA Championship. If you are in business for the sole purpose of making money, and one of your major products (in this case, the Spurs) loses you money at an alarming rate, don't you discontinue the product?


Los Angeles Lakers: champs in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009

You don't need to worry about much when you have the two most dominating players in the game on your team. That's what the Lakers were dealing with at the beginning of this century. Shaq and Kobe became a household duet. Even the hobos living under a rock under the Burnside Bridge knew about Shaquille O'neal and Kobe Bryant. A situation that you cannot simply put together, you need to luck into this tandem.

The following two seasons after their 3rd championship in a row, the Lakers got knocked out of each playoff by the eventual champs, both known for their defensive prowess. Shaq subsequently got traded following the 04-05 season, and the Lakers began their fall into mediocrity. Considered just a borderline playoff team during the middle of the decade, the Kobe-minded Lakers were never considered contenders until they robbed the Memphis Grizzlies of their best player (Pau Gasol) in 2008. Making the finals the last two seasons, the Lakers won their 4th championship of the decade in 2009 with an overwhelmingly talented team that had few weaknesses.


Detroit Pistons: champs in 2004

Widely considered to be an outlier in the graph of NBA champions, the 03-04 Detroit Pistons won their championship without a bone fide super star, winning it solely based on their capabilities on the defensive end.


Miami Heat: Champs in 2006

After trading for Shaq in 2005, the heat won the '06 championship with what seemed like Destiny. Facing an 0-2 deficit in the finals, the Heat were down 13 to the Mavericks deep into the 4th quarter of game 3 when Dwyane Wade took over and won the game and the next 3 games after that. The Mavericks had no answer for him.


Boston Celtics: champs in 2008

Easily the least satisfying championship in the history of sports ever, the 07-08 Celtics won the NBA title after acquiring 66% of their makeup in the offseason with trades for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. They had the most suffocating defense in the league by a wide margin.


The most redundant trait of the championship teams for the past decade seems to be a "Team Focused" style that is geared towards Defense. Of the 11 championships mentioned above: 6 were won primarily with defense, the other 5 were the Lakers' 4, won with talent, and the Heat's, won with "destiny".


So how do the current Blazers compare to the most successful playoff teams in recent memory? I will breakdown what I feel is the necessary number of key players a championship team needs to have, 7. Here is a breakdown of the key members of the roster and what score I give their potential championship makeup (out of 5)

Brandon Roy

He is our Dwyane Wade. He is the starting 2 guard. He is a top-15 talent in the league. He can create his own shot whenever he feels like doing so, regardless of the opposition. He takes all of the most important shots for the franchise and hits seemingly all of them. He loves to play in the half court. Other than needing better production on the defensive end, he is an ideal fit for a team with championship aspirations.

His makeup in accordance with a championship makeup: Almost perfect   (4.8)


Greg Oden

He has shown glimpses of being that dominant center that everyone projected him to be coming out of Ohio State. He can rebound, he can defend, he can block, and he can DUNK. This is the anchor that every single championship team, sans Pistons, over the past decade has had (Spurs->Duncan... Lakers->Shaq....Celtics->KG). Needless to say he is critical for the Blazers hopes of winning the big one. His offense has seen positive development when he is on the floor. The problem is he is rarely on the floor (except for when he is laying on the floor clutching his knee in agonizing pain... too soon?). Injuries can not be predicted, so against common sense, I will assume healthy players.

His makeup in accordance with a championship makeup: Perfect   (5)


LaMarcus Aldridge

On paper he is a perfect Power Forward: 6-11, 240 lbs, and quick. He lacks inside toughness but he is only 24 years old so one can still expect a reasonable amount of growth.  He is a great fit next to Oden with his ability to spread the floor and run in the open court. But he does not have the Garnett-mindset of "you will not put that ball in my basket while I am on the floor".

His makeup in accordance with a championship makeup: Decent   (3)


Nicolas Batum

He has been likened to the Champion Detroit Piston's Tayshaun Prince, and with good reason. He prides himself on his defensive game. He can defend almost any player that is not a center or a banger PF; defensive versatility that is essential for any strong defensive team. He can hit the open 3 with regularity. He is only 21 years old, so the sky (Scottie Pippen) is the limit for this fantastic Frenchmen.

His makeup in accordance with a championship makeup: Perfect   (5)


Marcus Camby

Among the league-leaders in rebounds and blocks for the past dozen or so years, Marcus Camby was Yacht in place of a life raft when the Blazers ship was sinking amongst the onslaught of icebergs that we called injuries. He is known for his help-side defense; key for a team lacking the ability to stay in front of the leagues quickest guards. He has one of the ugliest shots I have ever seen, but he can hit it at a surprisingly decent rate. Other than that he has no offensive game to speak of.

His makeup in accordance with a championship makeup: Pretty good   (4)


Jerryd Bayless

After falling in the '08 draft and having little-to-no presence his rookie season, Bayless became a much more prolific presence in the Blazers' rotation when the team traded PG Steve Blake. Ever since then Bayless has been a wild card, with the capability to take over a game as well as the capability to disappear for a game. His dribble drive has the potential to be one of the most well-known in the game. He is currently the best Blazer guard at defending other guards. He is a streaky shooter, but a very good one when that streak is streaking in the right direction. He has shown an aptitude for forgetting about his teammates, but he has also shown strides on improving that area of his game. He has a natural toughness and hard head that fits well amongst a championship team.

His makeup in accordance with a championship makeup: Pretty good   (4)


Andre Miller

The reigning starting PG for Blazers, Andre Miller displayed fantastic ability to get his shot up in seemingly impossible situations. He can score 52, as witnessed by fans against the Mavericks mid-season. Even when he has a bad game, this guy always seems to fill up most areas of the box score. He is old though. He can't shoot worth a blunt nickel. And he has never been out of the first round of the playoffs, despite having multiple opportunities. He is likely a great person on the inside, but I just don't feel he has the moxie of a championship PG; a moxie I fell Bayless does have.

His makeup in accordance with a championship makeup: Below average   (2)


My summation for the current Blazer roster is one of a conflicting nature. I do feel the Blazers have in place the personnel needed to be considered a perennial contender (which is all I can ask for); but I do not feel that the current Blazer roster has in place the personnel to ultimately win a championship (which is what the selfish me is asking for). The average score I assigned to each key player ended up being 3.97, pretty good (borderline contender) but not "championship" good.


I would greatly appreciate outside input on how you view the Blazers current makeup and if that makeup is championship caliber.


*For ideas on fixing any current "makeup" problems with trades, you can consult the Trade Drawer... my idea is about 2/3 of the way down the trade drawer (just look for all the green :-P )

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