First off, I do not understand why everyone wants to replace Mathews… His toughness, defense, 3-point shooting, and veteran leadership are going to be the glue of our starting unit.
Our starting lineup does not need more scoring. They can score as well as any team in the NBA. Especially if/when Leonard becomes a starter, and Damian becomes a stronger finisher on his drives. I bet Damian shoots 6 or 7 free throws per game next year and averages 22 ppg.
The starting unit needs to learn to play effective team defense… You’re not going to achieve that by replacing Mathews. (quite the opposite)
The starting unit needs an active center that can cover the painted area, protect the rim, and when needed jump out/show on the pick n roll…He needs to get rebounds and throw good outlets to start the fast-break... Maybe Leonard can grow into and learn to fill that role… He’s only 20 years old, and meets the physical requirements. Adding experience and lower-body strength are key for him. If Leonard doesn't make it, we have to target that guy this summer, and continue to play Leonard off the bench. Batum and Mathews will defend the perimeter, hound the opponents best scorers, and be the trappers when we press or we need get the ball out of the hands’ of a dangerous opponent.
Next year when Hickson - signed with bird rights - becomes our back up 4, Lamarcus will get enough rest to be able to put a little more energy into his team defense.
We first have to sign a dependable play-making back up PG, that can play defense, to run the 2nd team. This person, Hickson, Sasha or Clavier, Barton, Freeland, Babbitt and E. Williams (if healthy) should become a very solid bench.
I believe our draft pick this summer will be 8-11…We take that pick, and our 2nd round pick, get Paul Allen to buy a 20-something 1st rounder, and combine the three to move up (as high as possible) and draft the BPA… Someone with scoring ability.
I think that team could become a serious contender within 2 years, as Lamarcus will still be in his prime (he has 4 to 5 seasons left at this level) Lamarcus & Batum, under Stott’s plan, are expanding their games/repertoires this year, and it is going to pay off big time. Soon Damian will be our leader (probably even an all-star), and we will have a great team.
I believe if we stay pat and develop our guys, and build team chemistry this year, these moves are totally doable this summer. Not only will we become contenders, we’ll have a group of good character, likable guys that we can all feel great about cheering for.
OK B-Edgers, you’re now free to rip apart my vision and tell me all the reasons that I’m wrong.. have at it!