I got called a troll in a game thread last night for suggesting that this team could be an NBA bottom dweller inside of a year. Reminder, folks. that if you don't agree with others on here, keep it respectful. I have been a member here for years, and a Blazer fan for three decades, so the accusation was ridiculous, but I have been seeing way too many snarky comments than I feel are good for this blog. Rant complete...
Anyway, it got me thinking about the negativity rising up inside of me. When you think about the pieces we have, and the expectations (justified or not) that we had for each of these players, we should be a better team. Here's how both sides look to my eyes.
First, the optimists view of our roster, coming in to this season.
Ray Felton - Good PG, possible borderline All-Star. Speedy, solid court vision, and able to hit the open 3 pt shot. Lateral move from Andre Miller, but much younger, so a possible long term upgrade.
Wesley Matthews - Gunner, solid defender who would hopefully add a move or three to start getting to the basket, and creating his own shots.
Gerald Wallace - Aging star with a few good years left in the tank. Undying hustle and a threat to slash and finish. 15-20 ppg to support Aldridge as a second star player for our team.Add in rebounding and defense from the 3 spot!!
Nic Batum - Rising star-level triple threat slasher, shooter and defender. The future #1 or #2 option for this team.
LaMarcus Aldridge - Simply continue to be aggressive and balance that sweet jumper with the strong inside game to open up the court for the shooters. Be the franchise player who shows up every night. Improvement hoped for in rebounding and defending the rim.
Marcus Camby - Bang and grind as much as his old body would allow. Get more blocks and rebounds than his counterpart, and hold down the lane on defense along with Aldridge.
Jamal Crawford - Was a 6th man of the year before, so why not for us? Be instant offense when the starters stall. Fill the role of "closer" due to his history of clutch shooting.
Now, the pessimists current take on those same players...
Ray Felton - Bottom of the barrel NBA point guard, not worthy of a starting job on a team with no other real option. Probably the most visible reason that we have taken a step backward in the standings.
Wesley Matthews - Stats down across the board on offense despite playing more minutes. Good defender, but opposing guards still light us up from time to time. Average to poor NBA starter at SG. Has lost his starting job to Batum, and it's hard to find a sole who disagrees with that roster move.
Gerald Wallace - Aging star without a few good years left in the tank. What I am really seeing may be attributable to his busted hand/finger, but he is not elevating or finishing like he used to. Still solid on defense, mostly, but his drop off has hurt almost as much as Felton's poor play. Asset rapidly dwindling in value.
Nic Batum - Expectation met, but only after a botched , almost volatile contract negotiation failure that was way too public. He has stepped up into his starters role, but are he and his agent he bitter enough to quickly sign his QO and head for free agency after 2013? Maybe not, but at this rate, it's safe to say that we will be over-paying to keep him in town.
LaMarcus Aldridge - Little improvement here, despite what some may have you believe. As of today, his stats basically mirror his averages of last year, which doesn't scream progress when you consider how strongly he played in the second half of last year. My eyeballs tell me he is settling for the mid-range jumper more than pounding it inside like he was late in 2011, and though he is very, very good with that jumper, the team will benefit more from his post play and kick out possibilities.
Marcus Camby - Is Marcus Camby. Always will be. Expectations met.
Jamal Crawford -Impossible to grade. He's been streaky as always, and at his best he has helped this team through some rough stretches. However, like the other two guards, lots of misses and turnovers, which means lots of extra possessions for the opposition. Now he is our starting PG because he has been slightly less harmful than Felton.
That's a lot to digest and remain optimistic.I have intentionally avoided discussing coaching here, too. It's been done.
Depending on how you look at it, this team needs major change, or simply time to gel and put it all together. Either way, I love the discussion. I know going into every season that our chances to win the title are slim, at best, and discussing this stuff is a cornerstone of my enjoyment of the NBA.
My opinion is that this team is going the WRONG way, and blindly trusting the FO will not change that. We have no GM, and no immediate plan to head hunt a good one, which we probably could not get because of Paul Allen being so public in his admonishing of the last two. We have one sure fire player that shows up an produces EVERY night. OKC has three. Miami has three. NY has three. Chicago has two or three.On and on....
Make some moves, Chad.. Prove me wrong!