Blazersedge Mailbag: How Good Is Good Enough?

Dave,

Is a group of Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge, and [insert center here] good enough, even if that center is a premier guy like Roy Hibbert? There's no scorer on the perimeter, meaning the Blazers will have to wait for Lillard to develop and ride with the streaks of their other wings. This course of action doesn't leave me especially confident. You?

Ryan

I suppose the question is "Good enough for what?" Good enough to make the playoffs? If the Blazers had gotten Hibbert I would have said yes. With a random fill-in center until a better option comes, I'm not so sure. Good enough to challenge the conference elite? No. Every upper-echelon Western Conference team has at least a couple unanswered advantages over that lineup. You could play the "I could see it if things bounced right" game but every decent team could claim that. Say hello to the problems with reloading instead of rebuilding.

It seems pretty clear that the Blazers are depending on Lillard becoming an all-league point guard at some point if this is the lineup they're running with, especially since Hibbert is apparently no longer on the table. That's the only scenario in which I see a serious upward trend with this combination. But that's going to take time. Even then the more likely result is a return to the lower half of the playoff bracket and a dead end. Realistically Lillard is going to be the hope of the next, completely different generation of Trail Blazers, not the savior of the current generation.

You know, if you zapped back to 2009 and told me that Greg Oden would be an unsigned free agent, Brandon Roy would be signing with the Timberwolves, Nate McMillan would be gone, Nicolas Batum would be trying to force a trade to Minnesota, the Blazers would be in the lottery, and Portland's hopes for resurgence would rest with a rookie point guard from Weber State I would have said you were crazy or asked how big was the meteor that hit the city. It's true now. It's all true. What kind of Bizarro world do we live in anyway?

From this point forward I expect the Blazers to explore trade options to reshape the team. But let's face it, removing this year's draftees from the mix they have three core players and a ton of non-valuable ones. That's not a promising outlook. Assuming they're not going to pull out a miracle Nolan Smith for an All-Star trade, they're left dismantling their core and starting over. I suppose that's your answer. If you just want an 8th seed in the West you can probably get that with an addition or two. But I'm not confident in the potential of this lineup over the long haul. I think we see maybe one more season of the Blazers we recognize and then a new long-term plan goes into effect.

--Dave (blazersub@gmail.com)

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