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Alternate Possibilities

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So far most of our discussions about personnel have revolved around what seems to be the most likely scenario, which is drafting Oden and trading Zach sometime in the next year.  But let's say that's not the scenario.  We should look at some others.

To my mind the next most likely scenario would be drafting Oden and NOT trading Zach, leaving us with Oden, Zach, and Lamarcus in the frontcourt.  We hadn't had the first pick more than five minutes when the following question ran through my mind:  Do you think Lamarcus could play small forward?  We won't bring Oden off the bench more than a quarter of the season and we can't afford to sit Zach many minutes either.  Unless we plan to eat into Lamarcus' minutes and development, this might be an option we have to consider.

I think there are some reasons it could work.  The most common reason not to switch player positions is defense but I think Lamarcus could actually defend many (not all) small forwards in the league.  Pure outside shooters would negate his effectiveness for us, taking him out of the middle of the court and rendering him unable to help effectively.  Hyper-athletic guys who could shoot a little might also be able to get a step on him consistently.  But most nights I don't think Lamarcus would get embarrassed out there.  He has the length and agility to make up for any lack of speed relative to the smaller players.  Offensively we'd probably like a small forward with deep range.  Lamarcus doesn't have that but I bet by mid-season he's hitting consistently out to within a couple feet of the three-point line.  He could also dominate the opposition in the mid-range post.  As long as he's not out beyond the arc on defense he should provide us a rebounding advantage at the position (along with his obvious height advantage).  I have no trouble depending on him to get back in transition either.  He'd be a lot more effective than some of our guys charged with that task.  Playing more out of the lane on defense would also allow him to get out on the break.  I can imagine opposing teams being very, very scared facing a front line of Oden, Randolph, and Aldridge.

On the other hand there are obvious pitfalls.  Right now Lamarcus' big strength is that he's quicker than anybody else at his position.  That would evaporate if he became a three.  We kind of glossed over the shooting range and defensive demands above but those are real issues.  In the Blazers' scheme right now the small forward spends most of their time on offense WAAAAY out on the wing.  (Think Ime and Martell.)  Obviously that would have to change if Lamarcus were the three.  But with Oden and Zach both needing the post I don't see much opportunity for Lamarcus to score or develop his post game.  Also I am not a big fan of switching guys around in their early years.  It's hard enough to learn the league without having to learn a new position every season too.  Confidence is a huge asset for any young player and moving them to a non-natural position often monkeys with that.

Overall I don't think I want to see Lamarcus at small forward.  But if we end up drafting Oden and keeping Zach I think you at least have to consider the possibility.  My best guess is that he could do it, but it would be kind of like a Rasheed Wallace thing the year he did it:  it worked OK but it wasn't something he was comfortable with or wanted to pursue and he did much better at his natural position.

What do you think?  Any chance Lamarcus becomes the answer to our small forward gap?

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)