Jefferson Smith is Representative for Oregon House District 47 and a lifelong Oregonian and Blazers fan. He knows a thing or two about development, having founded the Oregon Bus Project. And, as a politician, he is wired to love numbered lists.
After the heartbreaking losses, I am comforted by the thoughts that this year's goal was simply making the playoffs, and my attentions turn to what we need to do in the offseason. Here are my 5 development notes.
- Blazers need to shop for a point guard who can put pressure on the defense, or they need to commit to playing Rudy and Roy together as well as adding a 3 who can help with the ballhandling a la Pippen/Roy. (Altenatively...cross fingers for Bayless improvement, but shortish arms might limit him). In the modern no-hand-checking era, a penetrating and finishing PG is a powerful weapon for a half court offense (think Paul, Williams, Parker, Rose, Rondo, Mo Williams, Nash, even Aaron Brooks). If we do without that weapon, our PG needs to offer a LOT of defense and deep shooting. I like Blake...as one of the best backup PGs in the league.
- Oden needs to (a) cut down fouls to stay on the court; (b) develop a left-hand post counter to go with his jump hook; and (c) work on conditioning, flexibility, and slimming, so he can stay healthy.
- Outlaw and Batum need to develop penetration games, or the Blazers need to shop for a new 3 (I'm not convinced Webster is much of an upgrade). This is especially important if we don't add a penetrating PG. Our three small forwards are close to what we need, but not quite...hopefully one or more can develop.
- Aldridge needs to develop into the league's best post-Duncan power forward (and Duncan's actually a center). To do that and surpass/match Boozer, Bosh, Nowitzki, Gasol, and David West, he needs to (a) improve inside game to get some easy buckets; (b) beef up rebounding up to 8-9+ boards/game, (c) develop a left hand finish, and/or (d) consider embracing finesse game further, by driving to the hoop and being a centerpiece passer like Gasol and Nowitzki. He has those tools.
- Blazers need to add some muscle -- either by Oden staying on the floor, current players like Aldridge toughening, or adding a new stronger SF. Some strengthening can come with age (or with undetectable human growth hormone, which I advise against).
This season was a success. Let's make next season a success too...by growing. Go Blazers.
You can read more about Jefferson on his website.
This is your chance to debate with an Oregon lawmaker over something that really matters: the future of the franchise. What did Jefferson forget? Where does he have his head in the sky? Where was he on the money?
Sound off in the comments. He'll be reading.
-- Ben (firstname.lastname@example.org)
PS... I am dog sick. Horrible timing. Sorry about that. Slowly recovering. Will get to emails at some point this weekend. Check back tonight for notes from Nate and KP after this afternoon's end-of-season exit interviews.