We are all waiting on the edge of our seats to see if the roster changes this off season will significantly improve the Blazers compared to last season. Management addressed the two biggest issues with the team: the bench and the starting center. Just about everyone agrees that the bench is a big upgrade, but what about Robin Lopez at center? Will he solidify the starting five? I think there is reason for optimism.
Lopez grew up playing with his twin brother Brook. Robin actually grew a bit faster than Brook early on, and because of that he naturally gravitated towards the defender/rebounder role, while his slighly smaller and slightly more coordinated brother developed his offensive skills. Once Brook caught up in height their roles had been mostly defined. Playing next to your twin brother as the defensive presence is the perfect environment to gain the instinct as an enforcer who always stands up for his frontcourt mate. All of Robin's former teammates have raved about his presence and attitude on and off the court. Last season was his first full year to start to show his skills (I hope his injury issues are behind him). He didn't have huge numbers but as other BlazersEdgers have shown in some great posts, he makes a positive difference in team rebounding and team defense while he is on the floor.
This year Robin Lopez will be playing next to LaMarcus Aldridge, a multi-talented offensive player who has been criticized for playing soft (Walton got some of the same criticism before Lucas showed up, people said Walton's vegan diet made him soft and injury prone). Aldridge had his best year playing next to Marcus Camby, a crafty but slightly undersized veteran center who's best years were mostly behind him. Lopez has the size and physicality to help clear out space for LaMarcus to work. On the other side, Lopez has never played with such a skilled offensive player as Aldridge who can pass well out of double teams. It's possible Robin's scoring could go up considerably this year as LaMarcus draws attention from the defense.
How about their personalities? We all know LaMarcus is laid back and mostly likes to keep to himself. Despite Lopez's energy on the court, he is apparently easy going off the court, not a crazy partier, encouraging to his teammates, basically the opposite of a locker room killer. I'm not saying Aldridge/Lopez will be Walton/Lucas, but I am really excited to see how this frontcourt duo plays together this season. A number of people have commented on BEdge that no one expected Duckworth to be an all-star and start in the finals when he showed up. If it doesn't work out then the team should go in a different direction, which I have no problem with.
What does everyone think? How well will Aldridge and Lopez fit together? I love the stat-gurus in the BEdge community, please post your analysis if you have one for predicting how two players could fit together. Go Blazers!