I was intrigued by Jefferson Smith's theory regarding championship teams, and how the Blazers can look to a Detroit Pistons template in their pursuit of the Larry O'Brien trophy. With the right coach, a few things breaking our way, and that oft spoken of "chemistry" developing between the guys, I think there is a path to this type of roster within our grasp.
It starts with this years draft. Assuming we end up with the picks as they're currently projected, 6 and 11, we work a trade with Houston where we swap Matthews and the 6th pick for Kyle Lowry and their 14th pick. This way we get our starting PG, and we still have two first found picks to fill out the roster with. With the 11th pick we take Jeremy Lamb, and let him and E.Will battle it out for the starting SG spot. With the 14th pick we take Meyers Leonard, who provides good value for a big man at that spot. With our two second round picks we take Jae Crowder as someone who can earn minutes at the two or three, and Kyle O'Quinn, a rebounding and blocking machine (with a freakishly long 7'5" wingspan) out of Norkfolk State.
In free agency we re-sign Batum and Hickson, and not finding any real value at the center spot, we re-sign Przybilla as a placeholder who understands Portland and what it's like playing next to Aldridge. He also serves as the perfect mentor to Leonard, as they have a similar upbringing, allowing Leonard to make the mental transition to the NBA more smoothly.
About mid-season it becomes clear that we finally caught a break with big men in the draft, and we can't keep O'Quinn off the floor. He proves the perfect complement to Aldridge, grabbing nearly 15 rebounds and 4 blocks a night. Meyers Leonard also shows great progress, and teamed up with the energy and hustle of Hickson, proves to be a formidable duo off the bench.
Jeremy Lamb wins the starting SG spot, and averages 15 and 5 in his rookie year, and earns the reputation of a defensive stopper. E.Will grows into his role of scorer off the bench, finally staying healthy and showing that promise we've all been hoping for.
Lowry quickly grows an unyielding bond with Rip City. Earning our admiration like no point guard has since the Porter era. He is steady, and shows an uncanny ability to pick his spots, and take over games when needed. He also shows the ability to take and make big shots at the end of games. Nolan Smith develops into a great complement off the bench, and becomes more comfortable in the dual role of leading the second unit, and providing a bit of scoring when its needed.
So, how does this relate to the Pistons championship team? Obviously not every comparison is entirely accurate, but the lineup is actually pretty uncanny in its resemblance:
Lowry (Chauncey Billups)/Nolan Smith (Lindsey Hunter)
Lamb (Rip Hamilton)/E.Will (Mike James)
Batum (Tayshawn Prince)/Jae Crowder (Darvin Ham)
Aldridge (Rasheed Wallace)/JJ Hickson (Corliss Williamson)
Kyle O'Quinn (Ben Wallace)/Meyers Leonard (Mehmet Okur)/Przybilla (Elden Campbell)
That Pistons team hung its hat on stellar defense, which suggests we would have to hire a defensive minded coach, in the Thibodeau mold, to get the best out of this roster. Who knows, maybe Allen can throw some crazy money at Thibs to get him to come here.
I'm certainly not predicting a championship next year with this roster, but give them a year or two to grow together, and I believe it would be us and OKC slugging it out in the WCF every year for the honor of humiliating LeBron and company in the Finals.