Right now the Blazers stand at 18-16 and are firmly in the 8th seed. This is not the record nor the position that we envisioned at the beginning of this season. However, if I were to tell you that Roy would only be a shadow of his former self and miss a large chunk of the season, Oden would be lost for the season before he even stepped onto the court, and Joel would not yet play any meaningful minutes, most of you would assume that the Blazers were headed for the lottery. We could still end up in the lottery, but as of now, I am liking our chances of getting the 8th seed.
Nate has to be given credit for keeping this team together, playing hard, and winning games in face of serious adversity and depressing times. Even though the team is playing with no established star, one 2nd/3rd go to player, a bunch of role players and a very weak bench, they are still in position to make the playoffs. All things being equal, the Blazers should have the same record of a team like the 76ers or Bobcats. However, the coaching has not been equal. Nate has shown a superior ability when compared to his peers, to get the most of out his players and evolve the playing style to fit the personnel. From utilizing Camby's excellent high-low passing skills, to inserting Wesley Matthews into the starting lineup, Nate has made a lot of savvy moves that have paid off with wins for this team.
Coach Nate often gets a bad rap around here and sometimes deservedly so. However, I think it is time to recognize that even for his faults, Nate has been doing a heck of a job this season. The Blazers team and organization are lucky to have him.