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Mid-Season Grades: The Centers

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We're halfway through the year so it's time to borrow a hoary old chestnut from the annals of sports writing and give out mid-season report cards.  I'm breaking these up into multiple posts, the better to give you opportunity to comment yourself without getting lost.  You can give your grades (and explanations) in the comment section of this post and when everybody is done we'll have a cumulative GPA for each player.

My grades are always based on the player living up to their own expectations.  A higher grade doesn't necessarily mean a better or more valuable player.

MIDSEASON GRADES

The Centers

STARTER

Joel Przybilla
Oh man...this is like a parent-teacher conference that you hate.  I assume Joel himself wouldn't be happy with the first half of the season so I'll try not to feel too bad when I say it's been an utter disappointment.  We've seen flashes of the aggressive, tough, no-nonsense Joel that delighted us all a couple years ago but they've been extremely brief.  He can't catch a break.  Whether he plays poorly or well he collects too many fouls and gets benched.  And once he gets benched he's never heard from again.  He was never great offensively but he is shooting above 50%.  The problem is he's playing with guards that either don't know or don't care how to get him the ball.  He's not had a single double-digit rebounding effort all year.  He's only had four more multiple-blocks game than Lamarcus Aldridge has.  We could belabor the point, but we won't.  The simple truth is because of injury or fatherhood or contracthood or whatever he's out of shape and a shell of his former self.  Grade:  D-

BENCH

Jamaal Magloire Jamaal had a brutal start to the season but has since improved substantially.  That's faint praise, however, since it's compare to the depth he was plumbing early on.  He's become a semi-steady rebounder and his shooting isn't awful, although fans cringe every time he holds the ball in Zach-like fashion, as they've had enough of that.  In fact the fans have had enough of Jamaal period if the comments are to be believed.  Perhaps some of this was the Blazers' fault as they (in typical fashion nowadays) seriously overplayed his acquisition in terms of his potential impact.  That aside, right now he's rebounding better than Joel, scoring better than Joel, and playing better individual defense in the low block than Joel too.  Notice I said individual defense in the post.  That's never been a strength of Joel's to begin with even though he's an excellent shot-blocker off the ball and way better than Jamaal at rotating and cutting off penetration from opposing drivers.  But if you need somebody to lay a body on an opposing big guy, you have to take Jamaal over Joel right now.  But again, "better than Joel" is pretty faint praise at the moment.  In my eyes Jamaal's play lately hasn't been quite as bad as some fans have made it out to be, but that's different than saying he's been good.  Grade:  D+

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)