An annual rite of passage for NBA fans: Bill Simmons' trade value column. This year, 3 Blazers cracked the top 40 and Rudy was barely on the outside looking in.
LaMarcus Aldridge finished at #31. Simmons writes about LMA and Al Horford...
Quality young forwards with great contracts on winning teams. But you never know about the young'uns. Take it from the guy who once proclaimed that young Amare Stoudemire was the second coming of Moses Malone.
Greg Oden checks in at #25. Simmons writes about Oden and Andrew Bynum...
The two toughest calls in the column. Oden would be in "Group I" if I didn't invoke the Darko/Dumars Corollary: Namely, that his Trade Value is artificially high only because his GM would never admit, "Holy mother of $#%@ did I screw that pick up!" House and I discussed this during our preview podcast, but it's worth rehashing here: Oden lacks a basketball fluidness that every other great center had. He has more of a power game -- all quick bursts, some occasional flashes, some "wow" rebounding/defensive plays, but ultimately it's just hard to imagine him consistently dominating games. He's all over the place. And that's before we get to his structural issues, the cloud lingering over him and the way he apparently retreated into a shell off the court. Awesome person, interesting talent, some real promise ... but would you bet on his putting it all together? If I offered you $10,000 on "over/under for Oden's career All-Star appearances: 4.5," would you want the over or the under? I'd want the under. It's just the safer bet. As for Bynum, I would have bumped him to Group E if Kobe hadn't intentionally injured his teammate's knee Jeff Gillooly-style. (Just kidding, Lakers fans. Just kidding. Jokes. Settle down.) Either way, it's a bad sign for Portland's 2007 draft that (A) the Blazers don't even have the best under-22 center in their own conference, and (B) we're still four groups away from getting to the guy the Blazers passed up.
Brandon Roy checks in at #9.
You might be able to make the Finals with Roy as your best player and crunch-time guy some day, as long as he's leading one of those deep, unconventional, 1989 Pistons-type teams. He's a killer at the end of games and a Duncan-like leader to boot. I'd say more, but we're at 152,000 words right now.
Plenty of discussion fodder here obviously. Vote in the poll and then discuss.
-- Ben (email@example.com)