Welcome to Day 2 of our 2014-15 Portland Trail Blazers Season Review. We'll be releasing an article per hour today covering the major events from the year. Check back often, share in the memories, and enjoy the trip. We begin with the long-awaited trade bringing veteran help to the Blazers' bench.
What's strange about the Blazers' trade for Arron Afflalo is it took on a far different meaning after the fact than was expected initially.
When the Neil Olshey pulled the trigger on the veteran shooting guard back on Feb. 19, giving up a not-insignificant first-round pick along with youngsters Will Barton, Victor Claver and Thomas Robinson to get him, he was doing so with the intention of bolstering a title contender. The Blazers had one of the best five-man units in the NBA, and at the time all five men were healthy. They were 36-17 going into the All-Star break, tied for second in the West. The one knock against them was they needed a tiny bit more depth. Afflalo was that depth.
It didn't turn out that way. It was only two weeks later that Wesley Matthews went down with a torn Achilles tendon, suffered in a Thursday night win over the Mavericks on TNT. With Matthews gone, Afflalo was suddenly thrust into a far bigger role than he (or, Olshey, anyone else) anticipated.
That Afflalo didn't succeed in that role isn't his fault. To borrow the contrapositive of Paul Pierce's new catchphrase in Washington, that's not why you brought him here. Afflalo played out his two months in Portland as an injured, underwhelming replacement for a cornerstone player, but it would be unfair to expect the next Wesley to show up so easily and cheaply.
Playing largely in Matthews' absence, Afflalo averaged 10.6 points in 30 minutes per game for the Blazers in the regular season. He averaged 1.7 points in 20 minutes in 3 playoff appearances.
Afflalo was expected to push the Blazers into title contention but didn't. Nonetheless, I'll look back with fond memories on the initial moment the news broke, and that sudden rush of enthusiasm that maybe, just maybe, this would be the move that put Portland over the top. In reality, that didn't materialize, but when you're a fan, that feeling of hope is what keeps you watching.