Thanks to Blazer's Edge Reader HailBoognish, here's your transcript of Blazer's Edge Podcast Episode 62 from Tuesday, August 11th.
Or just hit play here!
Blazer's Edge Podcast Ep. #62
Phil: Welcome to the Blazer's Edge. My name is Phil Naessens and I'm the happy cohost of this weekly radio show you can hear daily on Max Sports Channels and daily at the 405ME, The Talk Alternative. You can also find us at power FM in England, where we are brand new there, and we are excited to be there. You can find us on iTunes, and you can catch us on Stitcher. You can also find us at blazersedge.com. That's our home site. And joining me, please welcome the Exalted Poobah himself, the managing editor of blazersedge.com: Dave Deckard, welcome to your own show!
Dave: Well Phil, it's a pleasure to be with you again this week, looking forward to another exciting session of talking Trail Blazers basketball. What an exciting team right now, all expectations are unmet, which means we can let them go whichever direction that we want. The record is 0-0, as they are wont to say, and so it's exciting to think about the potential of this team, and it's interesting to think of the permutations of this roster and how they might fit together to maybe create a product that might be a little more exciting than most are anticipating, including perhaps me.
Phil: Of course they're going to go to the playoffs, stop it with all the big words. we have 7 year olds in the audience. Anyhow, we do have to send a shoutout though. That beginning of our show. We have a brand-new intro. That was done by Mr. Cole Hadwin. He was kind enough to piece it all together. He took the challenge, and he won the challenge. He mastered this thing, Dave. He has put together a presentation for us that fits this show perfectly.
Dave: Well, we have the best readership and listenership in the world.
Phil: Yeah, some of the best readers.
Dave: Hey, you wanna be optimistic? Listen to my optimism. I will put our readership, our listenership, against anybody in the universe. There is nothing that goes unanswered on our site. As soon as a question comes up, literally 20 people are on it, digging through it, piecing it out, and usually within half an hour you've got a complete and accurate answer to whatever you want to know about basketball when it's posted in the Blazer's Edge comment section. Which is just an incredibly powerful resource, and of course, incredibly creative as well, as Cole showed, and thank you very much. We appreciate it, and it's stuff like this that makes you delighted to be a part of this community and its process.
Phil: Absolutely, and I'm very delighted to be a part of this community, or MOST of them. Anyhow...
Phil: It doesn't matter. They want to hit me, I can hit back! And I have a bigger platform.
Dave: We tend to be a bit more genteel around here, my friend.
Phil: You can be genteel, I'm gonna be ticked off. Anyhow, I'm very excited about this basketball team, I don't care what anyone says. I'll tell you one thing: Mason PLumlee being invited to Team USA mini-camp. I'm very excited for him, I think it's fantastic for him, I think it's fantastic for Team USA, and I think it's fantastic for the Trail Blazers franchise and for the fans.
Dave: Oh absolutely, love it. There is no reason not to support Mason in this. The team is probably not going to the playoffs and even if they did, it would be a short trip. It's not like they're gearing toward 110 games and long Finals run, so there's absolutely zero downside to this. Plumlee's a young man, and getting this experience on the national stage, not just in terms of publicity, cause there'll be relatively little, but in terms of being able to practice against some of the best players in the world is amazing, and it's something that we should celebrate unabashedly. Now: is he going to make the team? He has some pretty stiff competition: Dwight Howard's there at center, Deandre Jordan, some guy named Davis from New Orleans? I've heard he's pretty good.
Phil: Who's he again? Remind me, cause I don't know much about him.
Dave: Tony or something like that? Yeah, but, in any case, even if Plumlee doesn't make it, it's still an honor. It's great experience, and if he does make it, it's even more fantastic of course. Just to be named with those centers shows, not just something about Mason Plumlee, but about the selection committee. They value loyalty. They value guys who are going to play a role, and you may find, who knows, maybe they look at a Dwight Howard and say "We know you have enormous talent, but we're also taking a couple of other centers and you're not going to play a quiet role on this team or be happy with it, so we'd really prefer Mr. Plumlee. Now I don't think it would come out publicly that way, Dwight would back out or something, but there is a possibility that they might look for a deep bench player who is honestly a bench player. Willing to come in and do some dirty work instead of a star that's frustrated waiting for his time on the court.
Phil: I'm not so sure he does dirty work though Dave. I think he's more of an open court player, really, but he's still a very good prospect. He's experienced, he's been on the floor in interesting situations, and I think he's going to fit in very well, at least at the mini-camp. More importantly, he's going to fit in very well with the Portland Trail Blazers. The fans are going to find out they actually like him. He's a fantastic human being, by the way.
Dave: Oh yeah, I think there's no doubt that Mason Plumlee is going to be one of the neat pickups of this offseason. As we've talked about before, he's one of the guys I really like, I think that was a really nice move. This might be a coming-out for him, in terms of being able to play, and have people see what he can actually do. Especially if the competition is not entirely stiff against him in some of these warm-up games if he makes it that far. Yeah, there's just zero downside to this. It's something that we should all applaud and congratulations to Mr. Plumlee. I hope you make it all the way!
Phil: I'm sure some negative Nelly will find a way to make this a bad thing, but we won't allow that. At least we're in agreement there. I gotta tell ya: the more and more I look at this basketball team, this Trail Blazers basketball team, the more excited I become. I think that this is going to be a fantastic season. It's going to have ups and downs like every other rebuilding team, but the roster construct is not that bad. Brad Doolittle from ESPN Insider claims that it's the 10th best roster construct in the West and I like his thinking. In fact, if you read the article on Insider, and you have to subscribe there, I'm not giving you my password cause you're so nasty sometimes. Bottom line is this: it looks like I wrote it.
Dave: Well Phil, first of all, we know that your password is I Heart Phil Jackson, but would you say you wrote it? Go ahead and give us a sample. I am not an exalted ESPN Insider, I hate to say that. I'm just kind of not. I'm not sure what Mr. Doolittle said, so fill me in.
Phil: I will. He says "Ed Davis projects as a second upper-tier starter for Portland, alongside franchise cornerstone Damian Lillard. Both players will be fascinating to watch next season. Obviously, Lillard will be forced to take on a greater role, but what form will that take? Can he use his unchallenged position as the Blazers franchise player to make his teammates better, or will it merely be his scoring average that skyrockets? As for Davis, his per-possession efficiency is top of the charts annually, but he impacts far fewer possessions than LaMarcus Aldridge, both in terms of usage rate and playing time. Just what kind of ceiling does Davis actually possess among the quartet of deep reserves? All of them — Gerald Henderson, CJ McCollum, Allen Crabbe, and Noah Vonleh — will have prime opportunities to pull themselves onto higher tiers and are young enough to do so. The Blazers may not be great, but for the hoops diehards, they will be interesting." I like it. It sounds like I wrote it.
Dave: Yeah, it does sound actually like arguments you're making, and I think it's not impossible for sure. As we've talked about before, the Blazers are going to have a running attack if they can manage it. They're going to rebound well. If they can add in a little bit of defense there, if their defense gels, because they've got some potential, then they might some teams that are not ready for them in the regular season. 10th in the west is not a horribly optimistic projection for their upper limit. The problem is, of course, defenses don't usually gel when you have players this young and this new to each other. But it's not impossible. Look, 10th in the west is possible, but you have some semantics going on there as well. We need to think about that a little bit, because this happens a lot. One is Damian Lillard: Franchise Player. Depends on your definition. Do you mean he's the face of the Trail Blazer franchise? Going to be their best player? Score 20 points a game? Yes! That is inarguable. That is who he is, so yes, when you say he's a franchise player, he's that. When you think of franchise players in terms of carrying his team to greatness: a Kobe Bryant for instance, or Kevin Durant, is he that guy? That's a different definition of franchise player, and Lillard hasn't shown that yet, and it's unlikely he's going to be able to show it with this batch of players around him this year. He's not that kind of franchise player yet, and it's awfully easy to slip between the two. Also, there's a lot of wiggle room between they're going to be good, and they're going to be "interesting". "Interesting" is code for "I don't think they'll win much, but they'll be fun to watch", or "better than you think". I'd buy into that, but when you say they're good, do you mean good relative to expectations? Sure, I could see that. Do you mean good relative to the Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks and other playoff teams in the WEst? That's not going to happen, almost certainly. So the problem is when you start with one really solid definition of "good" or "franchise player", then slip into another one, make that mental and emotional leap without redefining your terms, it's just not accurate.
Phil: Well he has them ahead of the Utah Jazz, but still. He has a breakdown, too: Elite players? Zero. Superstars? Zero. Upper tier starters? Two. Starters? Two. Second unit? Two. Deep reserves? Four. So he has it couched a bit, but you know something? That doesn't mean anything. It doesn't mean a thing until they hit the floor. But I agree with what he says about Ed Davis, and I've been saying it all along. I think he's going to be really good. Here's the thing though. This is something I've been thinking about all week, because I actually do think about this show sometimes, is this: I don't think Portland Trail Blazers fans, including you, trust Damian Lillard very much.
Phil: Do you?
Dave: Trust him to what?
Phil: Trust him to carry this team to the playoffs.
Dave: The playoffs this year? I don't think I would trust almost anybody, unless Lillard got some help. I mean, again, I'll qualify that. If Damian Lillard were Kevin Durant instead, yeah, you;d think this team has a chance. LeBron James, obviously, right? But I don't think that that's a realistic expectation for anybody south of those guys. It's not a matter of not trusting Lillard, it's a matter of not thinking Lillard is something that nobody is outside of two or three players in the league. Do you trust Damian Lillard's defense? I will admit to not doing that as well. I think that's on fairly solid ground. However, I do trust his attitude, his demeanor, his presence on the court in terms of those intangibles that make a guy a star. Do I think Damian Lillard's going to be a star in this league? Yes, I believe he already is. Do I think he's going to score? Yes, I think that also is inarguable. You don't trust him exactly to carry this team on his back by himself in all facets, because he hasn't shown that yet.
Phil: I trust him. I don't like that backdoor All-Star talk I kept hearing for the last few years. If you remember, on my daily show, I was very upset that he was a backdoor All-Star. I though the should've been an All-Star last year. And we had this conversation last year. Maybe we can revisit it. We thought perhaps that Lillard would wind up being the league MVP before he wasn't voted an All-Star. How do you feel about that now? Do you think he could still be that player, that MVP, without the quartet of guys that surrounded him last season?
Dave: It might be more likely, and that was before being voted an All-Star starter. The more chance you have to shine, the easier that kind of award is to get. Frankly, if the Blazers were to far exceed expectations, if something went crazy and they got into, say, the 6th or 5th spot in the West this year, then I think Lillard would very much be a part of that discussion. He might not win it, but his name would be popping up all over the place even if his part in it was only marginally more than he's done already. That's certainly, I don't want to say it's a possibility, but you can see that happening if things went haywire. The problem is, obviously, that they won't go haywire. They'll probably play about to expectation. The other thing is, with this trust deal. I don't want the quote going out that we don't trust Damian Lillard. I trust Damian Lillard to be Damian Lillard, and I trust that what Dame is is good for basketball, and very good for this franchise. It's not a matter of trust or not trust to say that this guy is not going to carry this team to the playoffs or anything significant in the playoffs, even if they do manage to get there. That's not a trust issue, that's just analysis and not being crazy.
Phil: See, for me, for my prediction to come true, I need him to be that crazy guy. I need him to be... He's already shown us time and time again that he is not afraid to step up and get it done. This is a challenge that he has to really rise to. I think he can do it. Now, defensively, he's a mess. But Gerald Henderson was a good pickup, because he's a very good defender. An extremely good defender, and that's what you're going to need to have alongside Damian, because I don't think Damian's ever going to rise to that defensive challenge. He just doesn't seem like he has that part in him. But when it comes right down to it, we've seen time and time again enough for me to believe that he can step up and make this happen. He's got a nice surrounding cast. Now, will it happen? That's another issue altogether, but right now I believe that it can and it probably will.
Dave: Well, here's the thing. The Blazers picked up a lot of defensive players, Aminu and others, they're going to be okay that way eventually. But remember this. We're talking about Doolittle's article and his assessment and the zeroes after "Stars" and "Quality Starters" and what have you. Doesn't matter what those numbers say this year, period. What you want to look at is what those numbers say next year. This time next year. Are the Blazers assessed as having more than one star, or three or four quality starts. IF that happens, they've done their job and more than, and that's what you should be ecstatic about. Even if they don't make the playoffs this year, who cares? But if they come up with two or three proven guys that really have a chance to shine this year and really play consistently? That's a big win for Portland at this point, and I think they take it. So yeah, measure those numbers year over year instead of putting all your eggs in the 2015-16 basket, because that basket doesn't really have a secure bottom right now. You're just looking to lay some threads in it, to build a piece or two on that bottom, and hope eventually it'll support all the eggs that you need.
Phil: That's a very good analogy, you know something though? You give me 10th, like Doolittle did, you can get 8th. Couple injuries here and there. Look what happened last year. It could very easily happen again, but everything has to go right for this to happen, of course, and I said this a long time ago: everything has to go right, but what they've done is put together good, young, athletes who want to prove themselves, or at least you hope that they do. That's a plus. You've got Gerald Henderson, and I've got a piece up there probably, this week, where I've shown he's definitely an asset for the Trail Blazers. Hopefully, because it's his contract year, he'll step up and really knock it dead. And if he does, I'm telling you, I have a lot of high hopes for this team. You can shoot me all you like, call me all the names you want, but I like this basketball team, I like what I'm starting to believe I'm seeing when I look at this team on paper, at least.
Dave: Sure, and Phil you're a Knicks fan and nobody can do anything to you that the Knicks haven't already done ten times over.
Phil: Oh my god, you know something? People give me a lot of grief about my lack of optimism. I watch every single Knicks game, have for a while. You know what? They've sucked me in one too many times, and I don't really want to get sucked in again, so it's kind of like the mechanism that Trail Blazers fans are exhibiting. They don't want to get their hopes up because they've basically had the rug pulled out from under them. I understand that, and I understand their anger too, Dave. I felt that too. I've actually put some stock into those Knicks, and I thought they might've had something. I was really disappointed about that Carmelo Anthony trade, I did not want to see that happen. And then they put together that little run and they had a nice year, and then JR Smith elbows Jason Terry and, from that point forward, everything went south. I was sucked into that team, Dave, I was on my daily show at the beginning of the season, I'll never forget this, with Seth Rosenthal, and I said to Seth at the end, just tongue in cheek, I said they're going to win 55 games this year. Afterwards, he started laughing and said you need to go to sleep, because he knew what time I was doing the show — 4:00 A.M. And they won 54. I got sucked in, and that's why I'm not so optimistic. But why can I be optimistic about the Trail Blazers? Because the Knicks, while they're on the way up, no doubt about that, and they do have a superstar in Carmelo Anthony, let's face it, he is. Even though I don't like him. They don't have this young team that Portland does. Those kids are really hungry. The way they played for their teams last year, Dave — and I watched probably more basketball than I should, I know people think I don't but I don't really care what they think. Bottom line is I see something there, and here's the other thing that I haven't said enough: I trust Coach Terry Stotts. I really like him, Dave.
Dave: This is how the Blazers have been built, right? This is the team of promise. This is the team of guys who watch basketball a lot and tab developing players. They're going to be happy with this team. And fan statisticians who are going hmm, this could be a nice pickup that people are overlooking, are going to be happy about this team. It looks really good, they have a lot of those type of guys. Which, you know, mad respect for doing that, that's certainly a viable way to start building. The problem is that that doesn't always pan out. It's like basically a nutritionist saying eat your vegetables, eat your vegetables, and not enough people do. So you get a plate that's all vegetables. Okay, that's great, but it's not a meal. Turns out you still need some steak. Turns out you need a potato in order to make it work as a complete meal. The Blazers are missing a little bit of that steak and sizzle right now, and they need to see if anybody's going to turn into that prime, Grade-A meat that they're so desiring. Without that, it's going to be a nutritionist's dream, but it may not be really successful when compared to an actual restaurant offering.
Phil: We'll have to see. I think they're going to be really good though, I have this funny feeling. I know people don't like to hear that either, but it comes from that and they don't want to hear this either — the fantasy stuff. I watch these guys very closely, and I really like what I see. I can't help not to like them. I really do. I see something there in the hungers there, and well... We'll have to wait and see if I'm right. Do you think that fans trust Terry Stotts to put this whole thing together?
Dave: I think they do now, or at least they're non-committal enough to say he should have the job. I believe he should. You and I have talked about his almost too much, probably. This guy's a really good coach. Whether they're going to believe that in a year is another question, and we'll have to deal with that then, because it's always easier when actual losses start mounting up. Always easy to blame the coach and say hey, he's not doing this, if he just played the bench. Because they're always theoreticals. A coach only gets to take one actual course of action. When it doesn't work, all of the other courses of action seem better, right? Because you never actually got to test them. This is the reality of coaching, and this is probably what's going to happen to Stotts. If you're asking about trust, yeah, I absolutely trust him and would absolutely support him, not just in this iteration of the lineup, but beyond. Hey, look, there's a better analogy for what Stotts is doing, and blending the two together. Maybe even the meal thing, that might be another thing I draw on, which is a little bit of poker. You can admire a real professional player, Neil Olshey at this point, or Stotts when he's coaching, and he's able to take somefives and sevens and win a pot, okay? That takes skill. That is admirable, and you say this guy is a real poker player. If, however, you know that the others guys are playing off decks that are consistently aces, kings, and queens, even if you're really good with your fives and sevens, eventually you are going to lose. They may not be as good as you are, technically even, but they've got better cards. The law of averages says, over time, you may take pots, but they're going to win the tournament. They're going to walk home with the money. That's exactly where Portland is now. There's room to say that technically, these guys have been good technicians, but, again, big picture, they're not dealing from the same deck as the good guys, as the guys who are really going to win in this league. Unless they get some more muscle behind them, unless they get some more aces in their deck, it's long-term not going to turn out well for them.
Phil: Yeah, whatever. Anyway.
Dave: Did you just whatever me? That was really it right there, I explained how you can praise them, but at the same time realize that the results are not going to be everything you want, even if they individual decisions look praise-worthy.
Phil: I think it's going to be a fantastic season, and they're going to make that 8th seed and everybody's going to go hmmm.
Dave: You just keep going with that, yup. This is three weeks, four weeks running now. It's going to be going. I have a hunch we're going to get like 48 weeks of this until they're mathematically eliminated. But believe me Phil, if they make it, we are going to have a Phil Naessens party. We're going to have people compose songs and raps just about you and your greatness. It's going to be your dream.
Phil: They're already do, didn't you read the comments section? But anyhow, someone asked, and this is interesting, and you answered it over at Blazer's Edge, but I thought we could do this here too. I thought that this might be fun. What team do you like better: this new team, or the team that we just said goodbye to? Which team do you prefer, because we've covered that last one together, and now we've got this new one where we're actually starting together with this new team. Which is it that you prefer to cover, if you had your choice?
Dave: To cover as a media person?
Phil: Yeah, like right now.
Dave: It's funny, because I don't think most people know this, but I've been doing this long enough that it's immediately apparent. There are inversions that happen when a team is good. Last year's team would be a hell of a lot more fun to cover in May, okay? There's no doubt about that. There's no contest there. On the other hand, during the regular season, night to night, this new team is going to be more fun to cover because you don't know what you can expect. Also you get things like the draft, summer league, which become exponentially more important. That makes the new team a lot more fun to cover. 80% of the time, as a media person, we're going to have much more fun with this new squad. The problem is that it's awfully hard to miss that other 20% because that's the "This game is critical because it determines playoff position", "here's the bracket as it exists today", "here's the summary of the team's chances for Round 1 of the playoffs", and of course that first day of the playoffs, there's nothing like that feeling. I love, love, love it. It's like Christmas for Trail Blazers fans. Round 1, Game 1. So exciting. And we're probably not going to have that. In those moments, it's awfully hard not to have the old team. So 80% we're good, 20% is really going to hurt.
Phil: I'm going to miss the old team. I would prefer to cover the old team, because we wouldn't have these issues that we have to worry about. We could talk about Damian's defense and a little things. This one's a different thing. This is a new animal. We don't really know what's going to happen. I'm being optimistic, but sometimes it's harder to be optimistic than people give me credit for. It's very difficult to be, sometimes, when you look at this team, but... With the other team, you knew what to expect. Somewhat, anyway. So I suppose I like that team better. Wesley Matthews was my favorite Trail Blazer on that team, I enjoyed watching him play.
Dave: I'll tell you, there's a solution that satisfies us both, and I think you've lived through it and I have too. When you know your team is a favorite, or at least has a solid chance to make the Finals, every game is exciting. It matters so much because you want that #1 seed, and you want the best road to and through the postseason, and games in February, even if the outcome is all but predetermined, can still be exciting. Plus, the quality of play is so high every night that you're just excited to see these guys take the court. Clyde Drexler, Buck Williams, Jerome Kersey, Kevin Duckworth, Terry Porter, Cliff Robinson, Danny Ainge. That group — they were exciting to watch every night. The games weren't always exciting, but something was going to happen. All it would take would be Clyde to get free and the entire arena was going to stand up. Opposing arenas stood up, I swear to you, I have videotapes somewhere, of Clyde off in New Jersey or somewhere, and he would get free and opposing fans would leave their seats to see what was going to happen. That's exciting. So ideally the Blazers will get to that point again. Then we can have the best of both worlds: the excellent play and predictability that you're talking about, but also the night to night excitement that I'm talking about.
Phil: Well we're going to have a lot of excitement this year, there's no doubt. You're going to see a lot of interesting things, and hopefully you see enough wins to get into the playoffs because that's what we all want to see, really. There's not much coming up in the draft to tank for. There's none of those things, but I'll miss that team, and I'm looking forward to this team though. I want to see them do what I think they're going to do. Well let me see, we've got something else here.
Dave: Oh, favorite player, didn't we have that somewhere?
Phil: Yeah, favorite player!
Dave: Oh yes, we did favorite team, but —
Phil: Who's your favorite player from last year's team, Dave?
Dave: That, by the way, came from Twitter, and feel free to ask us questions there. We picked up a few more that we're going to do next week, and we always are interested in what you want us to talk about. Favorite player from last year's team? Boy, that's tough. Um, Aldridge's excellence was always admirable. I kind of always had a little bit of a soft spot for Robin Lopez, just because I like the guy. Now, people are going to choke and do a spit-take because I've analyzed Robin Lopez as a fairly average center in most ways, who fit very well here. I will stick by that analysis, but people translate that as "You don't like Robin Lopez". That has nothing to do with liking and not appreciating Robin Lopez, Robin was a 10 and 8 guy, and okay! So, in any case. Personally, I would probably say Lopez. Used to be Batum a little bit, even though he frustrated me. But, professionally favorite, LaMarcus Aldridge. Just watching him was like tasting fine wine or whatever analogy you want to use about something that you know a little bit about, and you appreciate excellence, Aldridge was that. How about you?
Phil: Easy, Wesley Matthews was my favorite. I'm going to miss him, too, because I love watching his progression from being a really good shooter to being an elite shooter. I'll miss his defense, I'll miss the way he tried to be a leader even though he thinks he wasn't called upon to do that. I think he was, and I think that the fans really liked him. I know that I did. Maybe that'll be something we can all agree on. He's going to be missed. He was my favorite.
Dave: Hold on, I gotcha, hold on just a second, I want to say something about Matthews. I would claim that Matthews was a better on the floor leader than Lillard has been. Now, off the floor it's no contest, it's Damian all day long. In front of the microphones, in terms of the public image and also his stardom, his charisma, his magnetism, his clutch play: that is Lillard all the way. If you're talking about offensive leader in the last seconds, needing a shot, that's Damian Lillard. No argument. All the things that you love about Lillard, I also love about Lillard. But moment to moment, giving it on the floor, doing it with his actions on the hardwood, I would argue that Matthews was a stronger leader than Dame was.
Phil: That's a good argument, and I can't even argue you out of that because I agree with you.
Dave: Somebody will in the comments section, this is what's going to blow up the comments section, I'm telling you right now.
Phil: Was he a better leader than LaMarcus?
Dave: Yes! I think so, I mean.
Phil: He didn't disappear ever.
Dave: Well, LaMarcus didn't either, really.
Phil: In the playoffs he did, against Memphis.
Dave: Okay, yeah, but..
Phil: That's when the money was on the line.
Dave: He was also injured, but you have to remember Houston the year before, he won that series for them, he destroyed them.
Phil: I do remember, and I know you remember it too.
Dave: Exactly. I would argue strongly against Aldridge disappearing. I think at a certain point, fatigue and injuries caught up to him and he just wasn't getting enough help. Anyone's going to crumble under those circumstances except maybe LeBron. Even LeBron gets criticized for that. I don't know if you remember in Miami when he passed the ball instead of shot the ball, people accused him of running away from the big shot all the time.
Phil: I was one of those guys. Dave, I was in a coffee shop. I was in a coffee shop in Akron, Ohio, and I've known LeBron's mother since, well, a long time. A really long time. And she cornered me in this coffee shop and killed me. She was hilarious, but you know something? You're right. They hammered him. I was one of them, I thought he was a coward, to be honest with you. He would never take that shot. Now he'll take it obviously. Yeah okay, that's a good analogy.
Dave: Was Wes a better leader than Aldridge? In terms of statistical production, especially on offense, no. LaMarcus was the clear leader of this team in terms of producing. It wasn't even close. We can put that aside, but if you look at those critical moments on defense, and if you look at the way Matthews conducted himself and played the game, especially when it was on the line, I think you could make an argument that he was a better leader. Not a better player, but a better leader, even than Aldridge was. I think Matthews has that particular intangible. Not the superstar charisma, never going to see him on the cover of a video game. And maybe not the production either, statistically, but in terms of putting the package together, being able to play well in the ways that matter most, and lead the way when it counts, sacrificing himself when necessary, I think that is Matthews in spades.
Phil: He used to give those dirty looks, too. I used to love that. Last year, it was Nicolas Batum he was looking at. He'd look over at him and just growl. I loved that guy.
Dave: Contrast that. That's exactly what I'm talking about. Now Blazer fans who want to argue with this... And by the way, go ahead and argue all day long, I love this kind of thing. But the particular characteristics that I'm talking about, if you hold Matthews in your right hand and Nicolas Batum in your left hand and compare them. Not as overall basketball players, but that leadership, that stepping up, that knowing when it was time to do whatever and doing it, especially in Batum's last season here. That's the direct contrast to the comparison I'm making, because Batum was not, in any way, a leader this last year. In fact, he did step away from shots and moments where the team needed him. Whereas Matthews would always be into that breach if he felt that it was necessary, so. Yeah, that's exactly it, if you want to shade what I'm saying, that's the correct shading. It's Matthews vs. Batum in terms of those intangibles, and then you start comparing Matthews to Lillard and Aldridge, and you say that it's possible that no one quite had it like Wes did on last year's team.
Phil: Yeah, he had those dirty looks that I loved to watch, he was great. Okay, so now we've gotten that out of the way. The last part of the show now, let's do this: Who do you think it's going to be this year? Who's going to be your favorite player? Today, August 9th, when we're recording: Who do you think is going to be your favorite player this year? And then I'll give you my answer.
Dave: Everybody's going to love Dame, of course, and he'll be the leading scorer. He might have a bit of an ugly season though. I don't think production wise, but for basketball purists, Dame might be under too much pressure in order for purists to like what he's going to have to end up doing. I'm going to go with probably one of the up and comers, and I'm guessing that it's going to be a front court player. Maybe Davis, I think he's a strong candidate. Plumlee is a strong candidate. If Vonleh ever gets loose and plays well enough to get playing time, he could do it. Or Aminu, or Harkless. Those are all good candidates. I think I'm going to go with you though, your original suggestion earlier in the podcast. I think I'm going to like Ed Davis, I'm guessing.
Phil: I've always been an Ed Davis fan. And I always will be. I don't know if he's going to become my favorite Trail Blazer though. I think it's going to be Gerald Henderson.
Dave: Really, over CJ McCollum? Because a lot of people are going to say CJ.
Phil: Okay that's fair enough, and that's fine, but in order for the Blazers to do what I think they're going to do, it's going to be Gerald Henderson that's going to have to help out. He's going to have to step up and be a real leader. I think he has that in him, he went through a rebuilding deal in Charlotte his second season there. He did pretty well. I think he's used to it, I don't think he likes it but it is what it is. It's a contract year, there's going to be a gazillion dollars out there waiting to be had if you can really play and show them that you can really play. 6 million dollars that he gets now is going to feel like peanuts if he can really blow it up. I think that he can, and I think that he wants to, too. I'm not worried about that hip, I think he'll be fine with that. He's an explosive guy, he's got hops for real. I guess it was Jared Sullinger's shot he threw in the blog post I wrote this week at Blazer's Edge. I think it's going to be him, especially if he can get that shot going because he's got a deadly corner 3 from the left side, but everywhere else he's kinda iffy. I'm hoping that he'll become my favorite player this year.
Dave: Well, corner 3 is going to be page 2 of the Trail Blazer Bible this year, at least in terms of 3-pointers.
Phil: And Page 3 is going to be Damian left, Damian right, Damian down the middle.
Dave: Well, maybe, I think that's page 1b and that'll take up most of the page, really page 1a is rebound that ball and run. You've just hit on it right there, I think we can run down the flowchart. A: can you run the ball and dunk it? Yes/No. If No, can Damian do something with it? Yes/No. If no, then corner three. And if no, then there's got to be an offensive rebound. That's going to be the flow-chart for the Blazers this year. I'll be pleasantly surprised if something else comes out, but really I think those'll be the staples. That being said, it's bad when you can flow-chart your offense. You don't want to be able to do that too much, and people are going to argue that last year the flow-chart was three-pointer or Aldridge, and that's true. But at least you had some variation in those, where you could go different directions. This year, it's going to be pretty simple in that order a lot. We'll have to see what comes of it, because I don't think they're going to be able to run much, and I don't think they're going to get a lot of open three-pointers, and I think Damian's going to be covered too, so you're going to be down on option 4 offensive rebound an awful lot.
Phil: I think you're right. I think it's going to be a fun rest of the summer. Good stuff today, my friend, thank you for being here with me.
Dave: Oh, it is always a pleasure, we love you and we love doing this. I cannot imagine it being any more fun, and of course Chris Lucia on the weekends does it too. He has different guests on, mixes it up. So we are appreciative of all our listeners.
Phil: We certainly are, and we say thanks for listening, and I don't mean that to be sarcastic either, I do appreciate you. I appreciate Cole Hadwin for that great intro, we're going to to even close the show with that intro because it's so fantastic. If you want to involve yourself in the show, we've had several Google voicemails about coming on the show and talking with us, a little Trail Blazers hoops, continue to do so. You can write today, if you can write to me at email@example.com, or you can write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will be in touch with you and bring you on a future show. For Dave Deckard, I'm Phil Naessens. Thanks for listening to the Blazer's Edge.