This season we were blessed to watch the rookie campaigns of two European players who were not only exciting bearers of future promise, but actually contributed to the Blazers' fantastic performance: Rudy Fernandez and Nicolas Batum.
Rudy became an instant celebrity with his three-point shot, his skilled passing, his occasional burglary on defense, and a genuine flair for playing the game. And let's not forget this high-flying dunk potential! He's open anywhere on the court and he knows how to move without the ball. His confidence and passion are irrepressible and contagious. He's one of the hottest young prospects in the league by popular acclamation.
Nicolas slid into the starting small forward position in the second game of the season and didn't relinquish the spot until the last playoff breaths forced an air of desperation. Where Rudy is instant offense, Nicolas is instant defense. He routinely drew the toughest opponent scorers as his primary assignment. He chased down many an opponent on the break, preventing easy scores. He rebounded. On offense he shot well, if infrequently. He occasionally demonstrated the ability to soar to the rim, breaking down his opponent and the help as well. He's one of the hottest young prospects in the league among professional evaluators.
I can't imagine not being in love with these guys. I can't imagine a Blazer fan who's anything less than overjoyed to have them as part of the team.
Now here are the questions of the day:
1. Which of these two players are you more excited to see develop next year? For whom do you have the higher immediate hopes?
2. Which of these players do you give the greater chance to contribute to the Blazers long-term? How, why, and in what capacity?
3. You can only keep one. Which one is it? (No fudging!)
If you'd like you can add a fourth question: What would it take in return to pry either of these guys from you today?
Enjoy! I promise I'll throw in my two cents at the end of the day.