With the chaos of last week past us, let's turn to some much-needed Mailbag questions.
So we have a whole new group of Blazers! This wasn't my first choice but I can deal with it, except I'm not sure who I'm dealing with. If you can't run down the whole new roster can you at least tell us who your most excited about seeing next year?
I can give you two names easily.
In the frontcourt I like Ed Davis. Maybe I have a soft spot in my heart for rebounding, interior scoring power forwards. This guy is both. His per-minute offensive rebounding exceeded Robin Lopez's last year. He shoots 60% from the field. I like his defense too. He's 26 years old and this will be his 6th season in the league. He's coming into his own but he's still young. It's everything you would want in a power forward except the shooting...and who wants shooting in a power forward anyway?
The only concern I have is that the Blazers now have a few limited-range, heavy-rebounding guys on the roster. I worry about them not being able to play together. But put Davis alongside Meyers Leonard and you've got a nice fit. As long as Portland's lineups disguise his weaknesses rather than exposing them, Davis should be fun to watch.
It seems like the Blazers are shading towards the old Drexler lineups where the guards scored heavy while the forwards defended, rebounded, and bruised everybody up. Davis is not Buck Williams, but when he grows into his full years. he could be that kind of force.
In the backcourt I'm excited to see CJ McCollum. This is his year to step up. Nobody in front of him is guaranteed to be with the team long-term. He's the main back-up at both guard positions. The door could not be more wide open unless the Blazers trade Gerald Henderson before the season starts.
Blazer fans saw the performance McCollum and Leonard turned in for the last couple games of Portland's playoff series versus Memphis in April. The signs were encouraging. But CJ hasn't earned anything beyond an opportunity yet. He needs to show he can score while remaining within the team concept, that he can handle the ball and maybe play point guard, and above all that his pairing with Damian Lillard does not turn toxic on the defensive end. Seeing whether he can do these things--coupled with a 20-point game or two--will make this season plenty exciting to watch.
Help! I read about all the new Blazers, but I can't even keep them straight. I'm going to spend the first half of next season reading numbers off of uniforms instead of watching them play. What's the team going to look like now? How will they play and will they have any chemistry at all?
I mean...who knows? 80% of the starting lineup over the last 3 years is gone. And those starters logged a lot of minutes together. There's no way you'll see the same chemistry right away.
Nor will you see the same offense. The Blazers' attack under Terry Stotts has been part Mavericks with a dash of Spurs. Beautiful basketball has been the standard. Get ready for a whole bunch of ugly, smash-in-your-face ball instead. Rebounding is going to be HUGE for this team, as will transition points. Getting stuck in the halfcourt will probably be bad news.
That said, the Blazers still have a blend...rather mix-and-match potential. Leonard and Noah Vonleh can shoot outside, Davis and Mason Plumlee are all around the basket. Henderson, McCollum, and Lillard have range, Al-Farouq Aminu, not as much. They won't be well-rounded and they might not be cohesive at first, but they'll be able to explore a little.
The key to absorbing any transition like this is to modify expectations. That doesn't just mean negatively. The Blazers are not likely to get as many wins as their fans have become accustomed to. They're not going to look as pretty on the floor. At first you're probably going to go, "What the...?" and throw up your hands. But you're also going to get a chance to root for some new players and see familiar guys in a whole new way. You might watch Lillard score a million points, or at least 40 some night. You're going to see some scary run-outs and thunderous dunks. And again...rebounding. The Blazers could be terrifying on the boards. How fun will it be to see Lillard and McCollum's covered circus shots get rebounded by Davis and Plumlee, then converted into monster slams? Or even--gasp!--some alley oops to big men?
All that put together won't win games yet, but if we're lucky we'll see the foundation from which games will be won in the future.
Different question, not in your current mindset, but just wondering: why isn't Wicks' jersey hanging in the rafters? He is certainly much more worthy than a lot of other stiffs who are up there. Change the world, Dave!
Dave! Dave! Dave!
I know KJ McDaniels is restricted but this is a no brainer! Offer! Offer! Offer!
I like me some KJ. And it's not like the Blazers are doing anything else with that money right now. He fits the young mold the Blazers are aiming for (22 years old). He's super-athletic. But the Blazers probably aren't going to like his proclivity for turnovers since they're trying to win that battle this year, not lose it. I'm not sure they can afford another athletic wing with limited range either. Power forwards and centers are one thing but a shooting guard who can't shoot? With Aminu already in the fold?
On the other hand, I like me some KJ.
Aw heck...go for it. We can figure out how to make it work later.
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