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Expectations: Taurean Green

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Obviously by the time you get to the 13th "expectations" post you know you're pretty much talking about practice players.  You might even be talking about players that won't make the cut if something weird happens.  But even though Taurean Green sits solidly in fourth on the point guard depth chart right now I would still dub him the most likely player on the team to surprise people.  The surprise may be modest:  a few nice stretches here and there, maybe some regular short stints by the end of the season.  But you've got to admit that's way more than would be expected looking at the surface.

Despite the log jam Taurean Green brings us a look we don't have at the point.  He's speedy, heady, and really gets after it every moment he's on the court.  His energy is sustained without being frantic or wasted.  I guess the simplest way to describe him is "efficient".  His defensive commitment is very strong, like a bulldog.  He moves his feet nicely on defense.  Let's put it this way:  if Sergio translated his footspeed into that kind of defensive display he'd be a mortal lock for second-string point guard right now and would be starting within a year.  Plus we'd be trading away everybody else.

I suspect if Taurean got any measurable playing time he'd have a hard adjustment to guarding comparatively tall, very quick point guards.  I bet he'd make that adjustment though.  My biggest concern would be his offense.  He can score but between his size and his disposition I don't think he's going to turn out to be a major scorer.  He may even be one of those dreaded 4-on-5 offensive guys early in his career.  A secondary concern would be him learning the NBA passing game.  He sees the floor well enough but again he's not used to this level of athleticism.  I can see him getting really bothered not just by the guy who's on him but by all the hands in the way of his passes.

Every Blazer person I've talked to is in love with Taurean's intangibles.  That more than anything may cause him to stick.  The problem is it's hard to show those winning intangibles in practice.

Unlike some of the other bench players my expectation list for Taurean isn't a wish-list, rather true expectations.  This is what we may expect out of him if he's on the roster:

--He's going to be working his tail off every time you give him minutes.

--He's not going to get in the way offensively or defensively.  He will facilitate for others at both ends.

--At some point in the season Nate's going to give him the chance to run one of the top two practice units just to prove a point to everybody else.

--He's going to legitimately push Sergio for whatever position Sergio holds.  Chances are he won't displace Sergio, but he will make him look over his shoulder.  (This may be a good thing.)

--Given his relative lack of shots his offense is likely to be ragged.  I think you will see Nate put up with a few missed open jumpers in exchange for some solid defense though, especially if we're talking about garbage time minutes anyway.

--Speaking of, he may have a chance to transform garbage time into some serious basketball.  He's likely to follow Nate's regimen out there.

--If he plays he'll probably become a strong fan favorite.  He won't be Brandon Roy, but he stands a good chance of being the "cult" bench guy this year.

It's impossible to anticipate stats for a guy who will probably start out the year playing one game in four at best, but let's just say if he ended up the year averaging near 10 minutes a game it would be a fantastic season for him.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)