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Who Benefits?

The question I've been asked more than any other since draft day is, "Who's going to benefit most from the picks and deals that went down?"  I've touched on it in various comments but let's pull it together and talk about it here.

First off, I think you have to name Coach McMillan and the front office as beneficiaries.  Greg Oden is part of that.  He's probably going to make them all look very good.  It's always easier to coach with a legit man in the middle.  The Zach deal is part of it too.  I don't think they disliked Zach but he did bend the game and the team's image in inconvenient ways sometimes.  Those who watched games regularly last year will recall several instances of Coach McMillan calling very early timeouts to chew out his star player.  One can also envision Kevin Pritchard going into apoplexy when, after working hard to revise the image of the team, he picks up the paper and reads about Zach's alternative bereavement therapy.  In many ways Zach carried the team, but he's also a big headache now departed.

On the court it seems to me Lamarcus Aldridge stands to make the biggest gains because of the changes.  Even though he'll undoubtedly be splitting time with Channing Frye he should still get more minutes and far more shot attempts.  That whole "learning to deal with double teams" thing should be alleviated by the presence of Greg Oden in the post.  I would guess that Lamarcus is going to get a ton of single-covered or even wide-open shots and that feeding him will be a main goal of our offense.  Having Oden inside on defense should also allow Lamarcus to run free a little bit and he seems like he could be devastating sagging off his man to block shots.

I also think that Sergio Rodriguez could really benefit from the new lineup, and presumably the new style.  I don't think he starts yet but I suspect he'll see more minutes.  I think the focus will be more of an up-tempo game with both Aldridge and Oden outrunning their counterparts.  There will be a fair amount of turning and burning and that is Sergio's specialty.  Also the extra defense should allow him to stay on the floor without being such a glaring liability and there won't be near as much pressure on him to score.  All he needs to do is hit a stand-still shot from range now and then and he's good.

If I had to pick potential losers I would go with Jarrett Jack and Ime Udoka.  Jarrett is still as talented as ever but much of his value has been in scoring.  Even though none of the Big Three are overt scorers at least 80% of the plays will be designed to run through one of them.  I don't see the point guard being called upon to shoot as much.  Also Jarrett wasn't sterling in the running game last year and the quicker offense may expose him.  Ime benefitted from the stand-still offense.  He is simply not able to score on the move.  That whole "post to Zach then swing it around the horn" play was his bread and butter.  That's gone now, hopefully to be replaced by more motion, even in the halfcourt.  Plus his defense, while always appreciated, may not be quite as necessary.  They may trot out a cavalcade of scorers and leapers in that small forward position.

Those are my guesses anyway.  As always, add any thoughts or reflections you wish below.

--Dave (