December 17, one year ago, was when BRoy missed the first game of what eventually became a career-ending degradation of his knees. The team went 36-20 for the rest of the season, without BRoy and Oden. And 26-15 before Wallace hit the starting lineup. That's winning at a 52-win-season rate. And see if you agree with my analysis that we are significantly better now than a year ago.
Let's compare the roster on that date to what we anticipate for the beginning of this year, essentially one year later, and compare the two rosters.
Starting Lineup (One Year Ago/Today)
Camby/Camby: Same player, a year older.
Aldridge/Aldridge: Same player, with a year as the team leader under his belt. Emerging all-star.
Batum/Wallace: Upgrade. Wallace in his prime, once an all-star and all-defensive team. Hope Batum gets there too.
Matthews/Matthews: Same player. A year better. Healed ankle.
Miller/Felton: Upgrade. Different player. More pick and rolls. More running. Better outside shooter. Younger.
Rudy/Crawford: Upgrade. First 2-guard off bench. Proven to be what we hoped Rudy would become. Recent 6th man of year.
Cunningham/Batum: Upgrade. First 3/4 off bench. Batum is rising performer, Dante a mediocre (but nice) tweener 4.
Przybilla/Kurt Thomas: Upgrade. Pryzybilla was coming off terrible knee injury. Thomas old, but solid.
Marks/Chris Johnson: Upgrade. Johnson has potential. Marks had nothin.
Babbitt/Babbitt: Same player. Maybe he'll improve on his dismal 1st year. Couldn't do worse.
Armon Johnson/Armon Johnson: Same player. Hoping for 2nd year improvement.
Patty Mills/Nolan Smith: Upgrade. Patty was too undersized. Smith has potential to be solid.
Elliot Williams: Upgrade. Hurt last year, now healthy. Lots of athletic potential.
Oden/Oden: Same hurt player. Looks like he'll never achieve his top ten center of all time potential.
BRoy:BRoy: Hurt for most of rest of season. Now amnestied. How tragic!
The bottom line is that we've subbed Felton for Miller, and added Wallace and Crawford, two strong players, in place of below average players. So I would say that our current top seven players is much better than the top seven who were playing for the Blazers only one year ago, considering that Oden and BRoy were both hurt at that time. And the no-BRoy, no-Oden team won at a 52-win-season rate. Maybe despite all of our trauma, we'll do well this season.