I was reading Bill Simmons The Book of Basketball,( and as much as I don't like some of his writing), there is a passage in there that talks about great teams '70 Knicks, '77 Blazers, The Spurs teams of the last decade. The one thing all of these teams had in common is that their were clearly defined roles, the players were brought in and knew what they had to do, who to defer to etc. Looking at the Blazers this year outside of Aldridge, Camby, The Rhino, and Kurt Thomas- essentially our front court players, no one else seems to know the role that they need to play on the team. You could say Wallace knows he needs to be the energy guy but those performances are intermittent at best.
Looking at Nicholas Batum and his inconsistent play also makes it seem like he doesn't quite know his role either. His biggest knock is he drifts out of games and is not aggressive enough, well could that be because with the other veterans on the team he doesn't know when he can be selfish (score) or defer and sit in the corner for a 3. For a player to be aggressive he has to know that he is the best option on the floor to get a bucket and outside of Aldridge, no one else has the physical tools to get a bucket other than Batum. Look at the rest of the guys Wesley Mathews doesn't seem to know/have a clearly defined role on this team either- Is he a 3 point specialist/ great individual defender? So far we haven't seen either, so what role does he have?
This brings us to Raymond Felton- he is supposed to be our starting point guard- potentially of the future. His aweful play this season to me looks like a mixture of to high expectations (easy to have in Portland when it comes to point guards who are not over 30) and a lockout season, as well as a lack of confidence- while this is not a pass for Felton I think it is very possible that these are contributing factors and mix that with a lockout season and being out of shape and that leaves you with our current version of Raymond Felton. The next guy I'll look at is Jamal Crawford- at the beginning of the season during that 7-2 stretch I thought Crawford played in his natural role- he was a scorer off the bench he did run some point guard- not nearly as much as he is now and he shot the ball well. While he is still playing well, due to circumstance plays a lot of point guard and as of this moment his role is evolving (could be starting at pg soon?).
The rookies and 2nd year guys due to a lack of court time hard to evaluate their roles on the team. It seems that our bad guard play is happening because roles are not clearly defined. Does Mathews think he is supposed to be a top 2 or 3 scorer on the team? Is he trying to be? Is Felton's play being diminished because of to high expectations, a lockout shortened season, and a new offensive system/lack of confidence? Batum for reasons mentioned above. Looking at the team it seems to me that a lack of clearly defined roles is leading to bad play- guys trying to do to much and that is leading to Portlands mounting loss total.