FanPost

Bench Scoring Fallacy

I am not about to say that the Portland Trailblazer's bench is not a problem. However, the ideas that float around about moving Hickson to the bench or making a move to bring in a reliable bench scorer aren't going to fix the major problems the team has.

Let's look at the first idea of moving Leonard to the starting lineup and Hickson to the bench. I have no doubt that the bench scoring will go up. You know what else will happen? The starting line-up scoring will go down. Stotts is doing the best thing he can do with his current lineup by making sure at least two starters are in the game most of the time (maybe all of the time, I haven't looked at the lineups). He will be able to continue to do this even when he starts ratcheting down the starters minutes. At that point, the bench scoring will go up if only because bench players will be playing more minutes, but the starters will still be getting the majority of the scoring opportunities.

Given the amount of shown talent, I don't think Stotts can do much more than he has. You can argue which bench players are getting the nod, but I don't think switching out a starter and putting them on the bench actually improves the team. It will only improve the bench scoring figure, WHICH DOESN'T MATTER AT ALL on it's own. I don't care who scores the basketball as long as it's being scored consistently with whatever lineup is out there and currently, there are always starters on the court. Of course adding another scorer can open things up on the floor making the scoring easier for everyone, but I think that's irrelevant because the basic mix of quality on the floor wouldn't change much with switching Leonard and Hickson given current substitution patterns.

The second idea of adding a proven scorer is more intriguing as they would actually be adding talent to the entire lineup instead of shifting talent around. Let's look at the reality of that happening. Really, what assets do the Blazers have to get this proven scorer? Nolan Smith or Luke Babbitt? No one is going to trade a decent player for those guys. I wouldn't want to get rid of Claver or Freeland yet. Jeffries, Pavlovic or Price? I don't think anyone is going to bite on those guys. Maybe because Smith, Babbitt and Williams are expiring they might get someone to bite. But if that's the case they would potentially hurt their cap space going forward. I'm not of the opinion that cap space is the be all end all, but adding an average player on a multi-year deal while giving up expiring contracts in the middle of a rebuild seems dumb and the total opposite of what Olshey is trying to do.

However, let's move to fantasy world briefly and imagine that the Blazers did end up getting a reliable player that they somehow got with their extensive tradeable assets that (edit:1 min after pub) who was also on an expiring deal. But what is the current gain from a move like that? Add a couple of more wins into the overall season? One player is not going to make this a playoff team, no matter what Wesley Matthews tells himself or the press. They are a team that will be able to compete for 3 quarters of most games. One player will not change that. they need at least 3 players to change that. Given that their proven talent cupboard is bare, they have to hope that some combination of Barton, Claver, Freeland and Leonard come through this year and next. They have to hope that whoever they get in the draft next year can step in as quickly (or close to as quickly) as Lillard has. They have to hope they can snag a true difference maker in free agency.

I really think this could be a quick rebuild if things fall the right way for the Blazers. But this is a lost year in terms of significance on the general NBA landscape for them. I think we can safely say they now have 5 reliable NBA players in the starting five. They need at least 3 more and shifting their talent from the starting lineup to the bench doesn't change that fact.

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