Usually, by this time, we're knee deep in talk about how we can get better for next year. As far as I'm concerned, I'll watch tonight's game for sentimental reasons - but the season is over. Otherwise - I'm going to seriously blow a gasket or something if I let my hopes get up one more time just to have the Blazers not even show up again. I can't handle watching our team whither into nothing and fold so hard and so consistently against such a superior team. I mean - they have 8 guys playing 20+ minutes a game....they roll SOOO deep. This actually leads me to the reason for my post. We have some seriously glaring issues when we get this deep into the playoffs. We're no longer wondering what we have to do to get to the playoffs - that bar has been met. We don't even need to speculate on what pieces we'd have to add to "make a playoff run" - as we are currently in the middle of one of those, too. We've jumped all the way to scheming about how to make that last jump to "elite". I actually think that we're not that many pieces away. Guys like Lillard, ThRob, and to some extent Matthews, Batum, and Lopez will all continue to grow year-over-year (some more than others, of course) over the next few years. LMA is pretty much our only known commodity with little unmet potential still remaining. With that in mind, if we stayed with exactly the same line up, we'd be pretty good again next year. Heck - if things fall our way, as far as matchups are concerned, we've got a pretty good chance of making a WCF appearance as-is. However, that's not good enough for any of us - we want a championship. With that in mind....how can we make this happen?
I just don't know how we do it. Tell me how we can accomplish this:
- Lillard / someone like Patty Mills, Bledsoe or Dragic
- SGOTF / Matthews (perfect 3/D, limited minute, 6th man)
- Batum / someone like Tony Allen or perhaps the good version of Crawford - not the Blazers version. Ideally, though, a lockdown defender
- LMA / ThRob (He'll be a starting quality PF in 2-3 years. Mark my words - he's got the potential and just needs a little time to develop)
- Lopez / someone like Asik, Mahinmi, Diaw, or Jermaine O'Neal.
And a new coach. Stotts made do with what he had - so it's not like I think he's a bad coach. I just don't think he's the "right" coach. If I were to grade him on his player development, system, and in-game scheming, he'd get a C, A, and a C respectively. Overall, I'd say his strength is in the systems that he's basically copied from the other successful coaches, like Pop and Carlisle, who popularized them. The rest of the "roles" a coach is supposed to perform he's lacking in if we compare him to other playoff caliber coaches . Basically, we need a better in-game coach. I can do without the "player development" aspect if we have to - as the right assistants can shore that up - but we are desperate for a better in-game coach. I used to defend him to the death - but watching him get outperformed by Pop makes me realize that he's further from the "coach of the year" caliber coach that I originally thought he was.
If we could find a way to upgrade the starting SG and move Matthews to the bench, that would be a great first step. We only have Wright, CJ, and Freeland as remotely viable assets for a move like that - which makes me feel as though it's a pretty crazy pipe dream. If somehow we did it, we could then sign a backup 1, 3, or 5 with the MLE and the other 2 with Veteran minimums. I'm not sure how Olshey could do it, but if he can, I feel like that would get us over that hump. We'd have a 3-4 year window with our core from that point to pull a Dallas Mavericks surprise championship off. That's the only path forward I see going into next year - I just don't know how he does it.
First - is this a good plan? Is this our ideal offseason? And second - is there anyway we could pull this off?