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A Little Perspective

Reading through the last few days I've heard people ask, in essence, why we're not better than we are right now and why we're not showing better and winning more.  I want to bring just a little bit of stark comparison to the table to help us get a handle on things.


If we are to lay any claim to greatness right now it has to be on the basis of our Big Three.  I understand the depth argument but you can only play five players at once plus our bench is almost universally young and those players haven't played together much.  There's talent there for sure, but it's far more of a future unit than our starters who, while also young, at least have established themselves somewhat in the league.  And the special starters, the ones on which we base our hopes and expectations most fully, are Brandon Roy, Lamarcus Aldridge, and Greg Oden.


Obviously Oden is out right now, putting a serious dent in any hopes of immediate success on that count.  But let's say he wasn't.  Let's assume a reasonably healthy Oden gives us 13 points and 10 rebounds this year plus space eating in the lane.  Now let's compare our Big Three to that of Phoenix, over whom people are claiming we should have the advantage.


Shaquille O'Neal is better than Greg Oden right now.

Amare Stoudamire is better than Lamarcus Aldridge right now.

Steve Nash is better than Brandon Roy right now.


On what basis, then, do we make the claim of superiority?


Please note, Blazer faithful, the addition of the conditional “right now”.  This will not always be the case…and not just because some of those players are going to get old and retire to become sheriff of some obscure Arizona county in 700 days.  Individually I believe each of our big three have enormously high talent ceilings.  They may not be classic, highlight-driven superstars but they will be great basketball players fit to mention alongside the best in the league.  Plus each has the potential to be multi-faceted and play the complete game, including defense (a major calling card often absent and forgiven in the games of superstars).  Plus the three have the potential to have enormous synergy.  Their games fit together incredibly well unlike, say, a Steve Nash or Amare Stoudemire and Shaquille O’Neal who are awkward matches at best.  These attributes, however, all have the liability of being in the future, if not in realization at least in adaptation and the familiarity to take advantage of it.  The future is not now.  Right now if you compare Big Threes you have to say Phoenix has the upper hand.


If you look at Kobe Bryant right now he is more reliably capable of winning games than Brandon Roy and Lamarcus Aldridge combined.  Would I trade Roy and Aldridge for Bryant?  No.  I am not a fool.  But then if you ask a L*ker fan the same thing in reverse they will give you an identical answer to the word.  The difference that justifies both sides and makes the viewpoints valid at the same time?  The L*kers are poised to take it all right now.  Blazer fans anticipate doing even better than that in the future.  But again, we’re not playing in the future.  We’re playing right now.


Why are we seeing losses right now?  Simple:  we’re not as good as the teams we’re playing right now.  That won’t be the case with every team.  We won’t lose every game to teams that are better than we either.  We’re still going to be good enough to fight for a playoff seed this year…right now.  But we don’t have a clear-cut case to argue superiority over any of the perennial playoff contenders in the West and in many cases they have a compelling argument to immediate superiority over us.


The measure of success isn’t a single win or loss today.  It’s whether the team is getting better and whether they succeed in their goal of reaching the playoffs this year.  Both of those have to be measured over the course of months, which we haven’t had yet.


The ride is long and it’s going to be a good one.  Unless, of course, you bail out early in frustration or spend the whole time asking the NBA equivalent of “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?  Are we there yet?”


Don’t make me stop this car.


--Dave (