What do we have as a team now?

      I am forever the optimist. So even though the lockout is on I feel like talking about the Blazers for next year as we sit now.

      Let's start with a short statistical summary.

 Center  Marcus Camby 4.6 pts 10.3 rbs 2 as 1.6 bl and per of 14.9 GO 2009 11.1 pts 8.5 rbs .9as 2.3bl and per 23

 Power F LA 21.8 pts 8.8rbs 2.1as 1 st 1.16bl per of 21.6

 Small F Gerald Wallace 15.8pts 7.6 rbs 2.5as 2stl per 19 Nic B 12.4pts 4.5rbs 1.5as .85st per of 14.8

 Shoot.G Wes Matthews 15.9 pts 3.7rbs 2as 1.2 stl per 15.6 BRoy 12.2pts 2.6rbs 2.7as .79stl per of 13.9

 PG Raymond Felton 15.5pts 3.6rbs 8.3as 1.7stl per of 16.7

 Key unknowns  Chris Johnson. Elliot Williams, Nolan Smith, Luke Babbitt. FA?

       So what has changed? In short. Talent has consolidated nicely. In place of Joel P. Dante C.  Andre and Rudy we have Ray Felton, Gerald Wallace, and Nolan Smith.

       Are we better? In short ..Yes. But how MUCH better will be determined on the court.  Here is what I see.

        At Center Marcus should be able to play 20-24 minutes. Probably starting until Oden gets his sea legs back. With Oden playing I would expect 20minutes a game to start with working up to 25-28. This should decrease the pressure on LA considerably. I would expect his minutes to drop to 36 a game with very little center time. Oden's ability to play this season will transform the Blazers defensively and offensively. No more one post player and wearing out LA on offense and defense with the oppositions Centers.

        At PF it is LA,LA,LA, with a little Chris J, M. Camby, and GW thrown in. I look for LA's effectiveness to skyrocket when playing next to Oden and Wallace. Whatever shortcomings LA has will be completely erased be these two bruisers. Speaking of Gerald Wallace...

        At SF  Our biggest advantage over most teams will emerge here. Gerald's impact over a year will be as great as Oden's. He is a game changer and physical presence. His ability to pass and score from multiple positions of the floor is something this team sorely needed before his arrival. Nic Batum. I am not sure why everyone was so down on getting Felton and drafting Smith. I for one felt the trading of Batum was needed to acquire  a younger starting PG. The Blazers truly pulled of a great move by getting said PG and KEEPING Batum. Nic will get minutes at SF and SG. Filling in whenever a wing is hurt or limited will be his biggest value. No more Rudy and Roy and Andre lineups. Thank the lord. I think Nic will improve from deep this year. As well as improve his intensity and overall game by just backing up GW.

         At SG I would not be surprised if Roy is back in the starting lineup. Probably at 70% of the old Roy but playing with Felton is a better match than Andre. Roy  probably will never play more thatn 26 minutes a game and Wes Matthews is more than capable of backing him up and filling in when needed. Wes will also improve this year especially his consistency when the foot is healed up.

          Ray Felton. I know the stats are similar to Andre but that is were the similarities end. Ray is a FAR better shooter from outside the Key. 35% from 3 vs 10% from 3 for Andre says it all. Ray's defense on the ball is also far better than Andre's. Then there is the whole Should not run out of gas in the playoffs because he is the better part of a decade younger thing. Andre's trick moves and postups will be gone. But then again the presence of Oden will be far superior on the block.

            Overall I see an improvement in perimeter shooting just on who is playing the minutes at point and Batum and Matthews getting the bulk of perimeter shots. If you look at the PER of each player they are all good and most have improved or stayed steady with the exception of Roy and Batum. I feel Batums will rebound for reasons already discussed and Roy if he comes in healthy and manages his minutes to avoid long stretches of games missed should rebound some on not only his efficiency but his shooting percentages as well.

            One good FA PF makes this roster very formidable. Look for close to 60 wins if the whole season is played out. Just my humble opinion.

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