Weighing criticisms against expectations

I've been noticing a trend amongst many of the comments on BE lately. I've thought about responding to many of them, but since they cover a wide range of topics, I thought it might warrant a FanPost. First off, let me state a few axioms of the conversation so it's clear to anyone who cares to read this what my analytical biases are.

1.) We are not going to win a championship this year. This seems obvious, but needs to be stated clearly if we are going to look at the decisions being made in a more objective light. Moreover I would contend that we are not TRYING to make the playoffs. I won't say that it's NOT going to happen, merely that it is not a priority and is not informing the decisions we are making.

2.) We don't know the actual value of many pieces we currently possess. Other than Batum, LMA, Wes, we have little or no data on which to gauge how these players (and coaches) will perform on our team, in a normal season, and with the current rotation. Systems analysis is a hobby of mine, and I can accurately say that the sample size is simply not large enough to make a reliable prediction.

3.) Paul Allen wants a championship squad during his tenure, not just a good team. This does not conflict with the first axiom, it's merely an assertion that our owner is tired of being an upper middle playoff team, as we were for so many years, and is certainly not okay with 5 more years of first round exits. This seems like it should the position of every owner, but it's actually a distinction worth making IMO. You can try to build a good playoff caliber squad, sustain it for as long as possible, and hope the chips fall in your favor one year, (see Dallas Mavericks). Or you can build a squad that has 3 All stars and a supporting cast of defender/rebounders and spot up shooters (see Miami Heat, Boston Celtics) Or you can try and have a bunch of 2nd option type players and try and use depth to win. (Indiana Pacers, 2004 Pistons).

The Blazers have previously tried multiple models. We used something like the Mavericks model back in the 90's. Deep, tough, veteran squad, centered around a HOF talent. We stayed relevant every year, and hoped for a hot streak down the stretch. We came close twice with that model, and fell victim to circumstance and Jordan. During the Rasheed era, we used more of the Pistons model, a super deep squad with out an actual A+ player. We came close, specifically in 00-01, but never made it over the hump. The Oden, Roy, Aldridge, was an attempt to use the 3 All star model, but two wheels fell off that tricycle before we could even make a stab at a playoff run.

Bottom line, which model are we currently pursuing? If we accept the 3 axioms, then a couple points jump out. Paul Allen probably isn't interested in high level mediocrity. Playing around the edge of a championship hoping to catch a lucky break before the window closes or you have serious injuries to your roster. So the Dallas model, which we appear to be most suited for, may not be the plan. The 3 All star model is the ideal, but given our current assets and the relative difficulty in attracting All Star FAs, it seems unlikely, barring a one sided trade or a diamond in the draft. That leaves a deep squad of B+ players as our most likely option, but that can also be problematic. B+ players tend to be overpaid, (LMA, Batum) and getting 6 of them to play unselfishly is extremely rare, (not to mention that the model has very limited championship success).

My opinion on the current plan is that we are trying for the 3 All star approach, but will fall back on the deep squad if it fails. All the young prospects we are playing can work in both of these scenarios. If Lillard becomes an All star and one or two other prospects show promise, you are one All Star short of what you need. Trading the non Lillard young guys to a team that is looking to rebuild could land you that 3rd piece. If Lillard is only so-so, then you decide which prospects to resign, and look to trade/sign for more B level players to fill out your depth.

I've gone off on a tangent here, but this is essentially what I'm saying. We don't know exactly what route we are going to take to a championship, we can't even say there is a specific "plan" or model we are going to use. Our goal right now is to find out what we have before making a decision. Criticizing an individual decision or lack thereof is missing the context of this reality. Getting better is not exactly the same as acquiring assets. In fact committing to any strategy prior to knowing what pieces are in play would be much riskier and foolish. I hope that makes some kind of sense.

Do you agree with my basic axioms? Do you have a preference as to which model we should adopt? Do you think, like I do, that it's still too early to decide? Is this post a completely unnecessary coffee induced rant? (Probably)

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