There are certain players on the Blazers you know are going to make good no matter what: Brandon Roy, Lamarcus Aldridge, our first round pick this year. There are also some you suspect aren't going to affect the long-term course of the franchise much. But this year's Blazer squad also has a number of tweeners--young guys who could go either way. Of those players, time and time again I find myself rooting for Martell Webster to be the one who makes it big. It's odd because I'm not sure he's the best player of the lot. But still I root for him pretty hard. These are among the reasons why:
--He seems like a really nice kid. I know Quick has reported some sulking and aloofness, but to me that just emphasizes the "kid" part of the equation. Who among us didn't do that at some point in our young life? When you see a guy that young struggling to make it you can't help but root for him a little. And when he usually says--and appears to do--the right things that makes it even easier.
--Martell came into the league pretty raw in some critical areas, particularly defense. I want to believe that defense is a skill that can be learned. Maybe you don't go from Kiki Vandeweghe-level to Bruce Bowen's stratosphere, but I hope that a guy can at least learn not to get embarrassed. I'd like Martell to be part of the proof.
--Of all the tweeners on the team, I suspect Martell is the one who would make the biggest difference if he became a consistent NBA-level player. That's not an assessment of talent but of skill. I don't expect Martell to become a superstar and I don't think he has to. But if he could give you 25-28 minutes a night as an outlet with that sweet, near-irreplaceable stroke he has I think your offense reaches a whole new dimension. I don't see any of our other "bubble" young guys changing the game like that except for maybe Sergio. But even there I think I can find you another point guard to run the team adequately--maybe not spectacularly, but enough to get you by. I'm not sure I can get you another shooter because they're so rare and coveted.
--I'd love to see that pick justified. I'm not one to look back and say, "We could have had Deron Williams or Chris Paul!" What's done is done and who's to say we'd be where we are now had different decisions been made then? Even if they would have been better choices, everybody misses from time to time. But when you miss, you want to miss for something. Passing up Clyde Drexler for Rodney McCray probably cause the Rockets intestinal distress for a long, long time. But Rodney turned out to be a pretty good player and the Rockets still ended up a great team. The Warriors took Russell Cross with the 6th pick in that same draft. (Who??? Exactly.) The year before with the 14th pick they took Lester Conner. (Sorry OSU fans.) The year after with #6 they took the immortal Steve Burtt. They stunk for a while. You don't get a ton of chances at #3 (or even #6 as it turned out after the trade). Blowing those picks completely is a fairly sure way to drive your franchise into the ground. Certainly we've been resurrected by subsequent picks but it would still be nice to think that one of our big chances wasn't wasted.
While the latter stuff does weigh into the equation really in my heart the former weighs more. I just like the guy. I hope he does well.
How do you feel about Martell and his prospects? And do you also find yourself fonder of him than his production so far would seem to warrant? Or is another Blazer your semi-irrational favorite that way? Do share!