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2011 Expectations: Andre Miller and Marcus Camby

Today we're looking at expectations for the two most veteran members of the 2010-11 Portland Trail Blazers:  Marcus Camby and Andre Miller.  Despite featuring previous players in their own posts we're going two-for-one in expectations here for a couple of reasons:

  1. When guys have been in the league this long you don't anticipate them revolutionizing their games.  The Blazers got them precisely because they were known quantities who fit within the team framework.  Therefore the simplest, and in some ways most accurate, expectation can be summed up as, "More of the same, please!"

  3. Despite them playing completely different positions there's a decent amount of overlap in expectations between the two players because experience ranks amongst the most valuable qualities of each.  You expect Miller to be point-guardy and Camby to be center-ish but you need both to provide quality minutes, lead their teammates, and be able to provide the decisive edge without commanding the spotlight.  Camby is differentiated by having a clear positional threat behind/alongside him in Greg Oden while Miller remains without point guard peers, but absent that difference the "veteran" portion of their respective roles reads nearly identically.

If Miller and Camby can play their games and remain happy leading the younger players by example I can't think of two better (available) pieces to fill out Portland's lineup.  Functioning as elite-level role players they're beyond compare, as they've proven year in and year out.  The caution here is that sometimes when guys straddle the line between excellent role player and bona fide star they have a hard time telling the difference and/or adjusting to team needs.  No matter what develops around him I don't believe Andre Miller will ever be happy giving up his scoring.  No matter how well Greg Oden plays I don't believe Marcus Camby would ever be satisfied with 15 minutes per game.  Nor should they be.  But that's the tension inherent in their roles.  What happens if the team needs them less than anticipated?  You'll never, ever be sorry to have either player on your team but that doesn't mean you'll end up blissfully happy either.

For now, starting the season, it appears that both players will be needed and used full-force.  Ideally Camby would play his heart out early on as Oden is re-adjusting, providing a clear boost and a few extra wins in November and December, then proving the most dangerous center reload in the league as Oden gets his footing.  You'll know things are going well if you hear opposing commentators shaking their heads around Thanksgiving time saying, "And this guy might turn out to be the second best center on their team!"  The biggest statement Miller could make about how important this year is for the Blazers would be to show up to the season in shape and productive.  That's not his history and I'm not holding my breath, but it would be nice.  Even if that doesn't happen, he'll be a good fit as long as he continues to take pride in that assist total and find cutters for alley-oops.

In the final analysis, both players will be judged more by how good their teammates look when they (Camby and Miller) are on the floor than by how much the excel themselves.  If Miller can feed the youngsters, Camby can cover for their mistakes, and each can come through with the occasional game-saving barrage the Blazers and their fans will have plenty to cheer about.  At the point winning and losing becomes contingent on either player taking center stage--despite whatever ability and/or desire each might have to do so--the team is probably missing its mark and the success will be short-lived.

What do you expect of Marcus Camby and Andre Miller in the coming season?  Share your thoughts below.

--Dave (