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Transcript of Blazer's Edge Podcast #63

Chris Lucia and Willy Raedy take on the hot Portland Trail Blazers topics of the week!

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Once again Blazer's Edge reader Hail Boognish has transcribed our Blazer's Edge Podcast for you. Thanks to him, here is the rundown of Episode #63 with Chris Lucia and Willy Raedy last weekend. Enjoy!

Blazer's Edge Podcast Ep. # 63

Chris: I'm your weekend host, Chris Lucia. If you'd like to get ahold of us at the show, you can do so anytime at, and please don't forget to rate, review, and subscribe to us on Stitcher and iTunes.

Joining me on the podcast this week is Blazer's Edge staff writer Willy Raedy. Willy, how're you enjoying your offseason so far?

Willy: It's been good. I've gotten to be outside a lot, enjoy the sunshine.

Chris: Yeah, same here. I think the last time we talked was probably the end of June, right around the draft, and I think what we had to talk about was the Henderson/Vonleh for Batum trade, that kind of stuff going down. Maybe the Plumlee trade and stuff like that, but... Quite a few dominoes have fallen since then.

Willy: Yeah, it feels like a long time ago.

Chris: Yeah. We've kind of gone over ad nauseum on the podcast the last several weeks, processing what's happened, why it's happened, what things are going to look like going forward, and Willy, I wanted to bring you on the podcast this week because I wrote an article earlier this week looking at some of the statistics, some of the SportVu statistics. With pick and roll, I found out a couple things, like Damian Lillard apparently had roughly 760 I think, pick and roll possessions last year as the ball-handler, which was #1 in the league, which actually ended up being news to me because I knew he was up there, just by sheer amount of minutes that he'd played, and it was probably pretty clear that he was going to be up there for point guards. But I didn't know he was going to be #1 based on how often LaMarcus Aldridge had the ball in his hands. That was pretty interesting to find out. Then we looked at guys like Ed Davis and Mason Plumlee and you come to find out that they're not quite as efficient as Robin Lopez in the pick and roll in terms of just straight up points per possession, but they are good in terms of finishing in the pick and roll. They're definitely in the top half of the league in terms of efficiency. Neil Olshey has done a really good job, I think this offseason, in bringing in guys who can mess with Damian in that pick and roll combination and join Meyers Leonard. He's going to be doing a little more pick and pop kind of action. There's a lot of talent around Damian Lillard, and the pick roll, as most listeners are probably aware, is kind of a bread=and-butter play of the modern NBA offenses. So I wanted to bring you on, Willy, to talk a little bit about some of the strengths of these guys, or some of the ways that Terry Stotts has used the pick and roll in the past so that we can get a technical look at what we can expect to see on the court, based on what we know. Let's start with Damian Lillard. The last couple seasons, were you able to figure out some of his favorite, or some of his pet plays in the pick and roll that he was really good at?

Willy: Yeah, the high pick and roll is his bread and butter. The high pick and roll is the one that happens near the center of the court, up top. He's really tough there because he's one of the few guys, along with Curry and maybe a couple others, that can pull up from that distance. Being in the center of the court gives him a lot of space, unlike the side pick and roll. He can go any direction, he can do pretty much anything. The Blazers get into that a lot in a lot of different ways, and it's the typical play when the offense hasn't produced anything for the whole possession and you've got like 8 seconds left. You just want to give it to Damian at the top of the key and set a pick for him, and that's going to be probably your best percentage play. I think, in terms of position, that's where he's at. I haven't looked at the statistics in a long time about how often he drives, how often he does those types of things, but he's certainly a threat to do all of them, which is what makes him so good in that situation. Next year, he's going to be challenged to pass the ball a lot more, just because he'll have so much more attention because the rest of the team isn't as good. That's something that, in terms of the statistics and why his number might be higher than you might expect... I think when they call it a possession it's when the player shoots out of that situation. You can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think on that particular stat that Synergy collects, it's "how many possessions did Lillard take a shot directly after a pick and roll". I doubt he ran as many as Chris Paul or someone, but Chris Paul wouldn't have shot out of those pick and rolls as much. I think we're going to have to see Damian pass out of the pick and roll at a higher percentage. In fact, I think those passes, the degree of difficulty on those passes, is going to be more difficult because he's not going to have Aldridge popping into that open area which is a fairly easy pass. He's going to be trying to thread the needle on guys rolling to the rim, he's going to be trying throw lob passes, and all those are a lot more difficult, especially when you consider that the spacing is going to be a lot worse this upcoming season. I actually think in a lot of ways, I am most excited to see how Lillard reacts next year, because... It might seem strange in some ways, because he's the player we know the most about on the roster, because everybody else, it seems, is new or only had success in the playoffs, but I think I'm most curious to learn about Lillard's game next year, because he's going to be challenged to become a much more dangerous and a much better passer. I'll be curious to see how he reacts to that.

Chris: It's definitely more or less a narrative that's been going around since we saw the way that the roster was dismantled this offseason. Opposing defenses are going to be able to focus down on Damian quite a bit more than they have last year when they had to worry about Batum hanging out in the corner, Wesley Matthews, and on the free throw line, extended waiting there in the perfect spot for the kick out from LA or Damian, and obviously LaMarcus being able to take the majority of that load of Damian up top, and pull the defense into the midrange and open things up for Damian. It's definitely a concern among many fans and people who follow the team. Especially with bringing in guys like Henderson and Aminu, Ed Davis, Mason Plumlee, who don't necessarily spread the floor particularly well. How much defenders are going to be able to sag off of them and help out in the pick and roll particularly. Traditionally speaking, if we're talking about the pick and roll, you would think that it's mostly you'd have your ball-handler at the top of the key with the ball in his hands and call for the screen on the ball, and a big man would come up and set the screen. From there he would roll to the hoop, and the handler would either drive toward the hoop or pass it to the man who set the pick. From a technical aspect, once that screen is set, what kind of reads are the ball handler and the screener making in order to determine who rolls, who pops, where to go with the ball?

Willy: When you actually start to break it down, it's an absurd amount of things that they have to pay attention to. The fact that these guys don't even think about it anymore, that it's all just instinct, is pretty incredible. The first thing the ball handler has to read is... assuming you do it right, you rub shoulders and the ball handler has set up his defender so he's got him leaning away from the pick, maybe with a crossover or head fake, then he goes over the pick. You assume your big man does a good job, sets that screen. If you're the ball handler, you almost assume that your guy is out of the play. At least for a second. So your main focus is the defender of the guy who set the screen, the big man. Is he going to hedge? Is he going to hard hedge? How far back is he? All that stuff. And Damian, because he's such a threat to shoot... if he is having any sort of a good night and he sees that big man defender drop, he's going to pull up. I have no problem with that. From the three point line, that's a great shot for him. What that does is it forces that big man to take a step up, and if he hedges that's something that, in my opinion, Lillard has struggled with, and that the team as a whole has struggled with, because really hard hedges, the guy with the ball is double-teamed essentially because the hedge stops his forward progress and that gives his original defender time to catch up. Once he's double teamed, the smart play is get it out of your hands a quickly as possible and to pass it around, do those ping ping ping passes that the Spurs are so good at. The Clippers would give us trouble, a bunch of teams would give us trouble. Even against Memphis, Zach Randolph is not one of the better hedging big men, but even his hedges were pretty effective. If the big man hedges, you want to get rid of it. If he drops, you want to shoot it. What a lot of teams will do is that they'll have that big man up a little bit, so you can kind of contest that shot. That's good because the higher up that big man comes, the harder it is to defend the roll man. The scheme that's all the rage these days, the Thibodeau scheme, the ICE, the Blue... first of all, you don't let the guy go over the screen, so you don't... that defender isn't out of the play. Force him away from the screen, force the ball away from the screen, keep that defender in it, and then the big man's job is to prevent the drive and to also stay behind the rolling big man. That way you can kind of defend both of them at the same time, if the ball is passed from the handler to the roll man, you're still in between him and the hoop so you can just take the step over and contest that shot. Prevent lay-ups, make sure all the shots are in the 6-10 foot range, and that's the whole giving up midrange shots but don't give up the lane. If you have to take a step up because the ball handler is a good shooter, it makes it that much harder for you to stay between the screener who's rolling and the hoop. Once the roll man gets behind the defender, that should be an automatic lob. Once he's behind, there's nobody else around, he catches it and dunks it, and that's where guys like Tyson Chandler and Deandre Jordan are so important, and that even though they have almost no skill whatsoever on the offensive end, you look at their metrics and they're one of the most important offensive player in the league. That's because the feel for the game, being able to time those gets and to get behind their defenders and then be able to finish everything in sight and jump up and catch the ball anywhere makes those plays a lot more efficient. It's a lot easier for the ball handler to throw a good pass because a good pass is anywhere in a 6 foot range, right? Robin Lopez could never do that because he's not athletic enough, you'd have to be able to bass the ball so accurately for him to be able to finish those alley-oops. That's why most of his dunks are from pocket passes where the handler will through that bounce pass in between the defenders and he'll catch it, take a step or a dribble and finish.

The ball handler is reading that big man defender. If he's too far back, you can take the shot. If he's too far up, you can throw the alley pop pass or that pocket pass to the rolling big man or just dribble by him yourself. What I find so incredible about the NBA these days is because the new rules where you can have help defenders come from anywhere, you not only have to read that first guy, you have to read the weak side help. Sometimes help from two different players, because they're might be two players on that side, who either one could be offering help. The ball handler's got the ball, that first big defender is too high, meaning your roll man is open, but then the guy from the corner has crashed, has helped, has taken away that pass, so now you have to kick it all the way across the court to the corner and you have to have the strength to do that, the timing to do that, the accuracy to do that, and you have to set up that pass correctly, because there's a bunch of arms that could potentially deflect the ball going that way. To me, what I really appreciate, and I would say something that Damian hasn't really figured out yet is that timing for these passes. When you get in the NBA, the guys are so long and so athletic and so good that the difference between a good shot and a pretty hard, contested shot can honestly be a half step or a guy leaning one way or the other way. The best passers in the game like John Wall, who I think is maybe the best in the game at this, but of course Chris Paul as well, they not only have the skill and the ability to get the pass through the thicket of arms and on target, they do it at the exact right time so they catch that help defender when they're in the middle of taking a step towards the hoop in the wrong direction. That means that that defender has to stop themselves, stop their momentum, before they can start closing out on that shooter. That split second that it takes the help defender to stop their momentum is all you need to get a wide open corner 3, whereas with Damian, a lot of times, his passes aren't quite at that perfect time. He's not catching those defenders leaning the wrong way, so they're moving towards the shooter as soon as he's passed it, can get there a half second early. A half second with guys moving that fast and that tall makes that shot a lot tougher. That's a lot to think about. These guys are incredible for being able to do it so often and so well, but Damian can certainly get a lot better in making those reads. In some ways, the Blazers were always one of the lowest turnover teams because the pick and pop is a safer play. There aren't as many help defenders involved. The difficulty of the pass is easier because you've got fewer arms that are in the way, passing up to the top of the key rather than across the court to the corners or straight to the hoop, and so it'll be interesting to see whether, not only with all the new personnel, how the defense will maybe force more turnovers. It'll be interesting to see if the same players like Damian will be turning the ball over more often on offense as well. There's a lot of stuff. Basketball's so fascinating because you change one thing and there are always ripple effects. The pick and roll's going to be very different next year.

Chris: Right, right. We'll hit on the defense in a minute, but I wanted to get your opinion on something. I noticed in the comments section in the article about the pick and rolls, it was brought up that the Blazers could run some variation of the HORNS play. I believe that's kind of the main play that the Golden State Warriors run, right? When they have Harrison Barnes and the 4 and Draymond Green at the 5, right?

Willy: Yeah, HORNS isn't really a play. HORNS is a set-up. It's like a position to have players in, and then out of HORNS you can run a whole lot of different things. HORNS pretty much just means when you have both your big men at the two elbows.

Chris: Okay, so the thing that I saw thrown out there that was interesting was maybe running HORNS, that set, with Noah Vonleh and Meyers Leonard at the 4 and the 5, which theoretically would... We don't know how Vonleh is going to be against NBA competition next year, but let's just hypothetically go along with this. What could that potentially look like with Leonard and Vonleh?

Willy: There's a lot of interesting things that you can do from there, because... So I think what a lot of people are thinking of is the version of HORNS where you have the bigs split, so you go around the screen and then the bigs go in opposite directions. One crashes and one pops. It's a play that Eric Gunderson has highlighted a bunch of times, they would do with Meyers and Lopez, where Lopez would crash and Meyers would pop. It's a tough play to guard, and you could do the same thing with Noah and Meyers, because assuming that those guys are athletic enough to finish lobs, and I know Meyers is. I've kind of tried to find as much film of Vonleh as I could, but honestly, he played in so few games that it's tough to really know. He seemed to have a good feel for it in Summer League, for whatever that's worth. So you've got a guy crashing, he's a huge threat, right? So you want to send help from there but then at the same time, if the guy's a good enough shooter, if he's a 42% shooter like Meyers is, and what Vonleh shot, like 38.5% last year in the 12 games he played, but still...

Chris: Well, in college he made almost half of his three-pointers.

Willy: Right. So if he can shoot at a super high clip, then that also is a huge threat. You don't want to help off of that guy. HORNS is tough because the place help would normally come from in that situation... let's say Meyers and Vonleh are at the elbows. You go around Meyers for the screen and then Meyers crashes and Vonleh pops. So normally, the place you'd go to help that lob pass and prevent that lob pass is the guy that's guarding Vonleh. Because he's the closest one on the weak side. But because Vonleh's such a shooter, if you do that then you're giving up a wide open three to a good shooter. So it forces the defense into a lose-lose situation where if they help they're screwed because they're giving up a good three to a good shooter, or if they don't help and they prevent that three, you're giving up a lob pass for an easy dunk. So yeah, the HORNS and doing that split forces the defense into some really tough positions. The thing that's tricky though is for what the Blazers roster might look like, is if you've got CJ and Crabbe on the floor, then that's one thing because nobody wants to leave those guys either, but if you've got Aminu, maybe they just decide we'll not send the guy that's guarding Vonleh to help, we'll send the guy that's guarding Aminu to help, all the way across the court to help. If he's not even close to Aminu anyway, if you're able to cheat, if you're able to position yourself closer to the pick and roll rather than closer to the shooter because you're not worried about him, then that rotation which was previously really long and difficult, then that rotation from that far corner is a lot easier. Then you can still help on that roll, but instead of giving up the three pointer to Vonleh, you're giving it up to Aminu. It's tricky when you've got... the defense can adjust, right? Depending on your personnel. If anywhere there's a non-shooter, the defense can just send help from that guy, right? And especially if they're such a non-shooter that you don't even have to worry about guarding them. Kind of like what Golden State did to Memphis. It wasn't just that they were willing to help off of Tony Allen. They were willing to basically not even be near him for the entirety of the play. That allowed Bogut, who they put on him, to basically camp out wherever he needed to be to make those rotations at a manageable distance. It's not just that this guy is a worse shooter, like Aminu is a worse shooter than Vonleh, so of course the defense would send help from that guy, but if Aminu's at least enough of a shooter where they have to guard him during the play, then depending on how you set things up, that defender might not be close enough to be the help guy even if you would want him to be. It's going to be interesting to see how people treat guys like Aminu and Henderson. I'm already getting all the names mixed up. We know that they're not going to pay attention to them as much as we're used, as much we're used to teams paying attention the Matthews or Batum, but how much they're willing to disregard those guys is going to have a big effect on how much space the rest of the team has. Particularly, what options the defense has in terms of where they can send help from. Which guys are close enough to the play to make those rotations. All of that will be dependent on the extent to which teams are willing to totally ignore Aminu and Henderson and everybody else that can't shoot on the Blazers.

Chris: That definitely seems to be the linch pin here when we're talking about the way that the offense is going to function next season. Whether or not anybody besides CJ and Crabbe... Because you bring in guys like Moe Harkless, Henderson, Aminu... They might be able to hit 31% on open three pointers on a good season, but for their career these guys are sub 30% shooters. Harkless didn't have a great season last year. That seems to be what's going to determine what plays and what personnel Terry Stotts is going to be able to have on the floor. We might be seeing a lot more of Crabbe than we had anticipated, judging on the amount of talent that's been brought in on the wings this season. I think Allen Crabbe could get 10-15 minutes a night just for the sake of having another shooter out there. We'll see, but Terry Stotts is definitely, and this is something we've kicked around on the site for the better part of 3 or 4 weeks, and Evans wrote about it on Friday, is Terry Stotts is going to have to leverage the talent that he does have. He's going to have to put them in a position where everybody can be effective. One thing Evans did mention in his article on Friday was that Aminu can go end-to-end on the basketball court as fast as any wing in the NBA. You have a number of guys who can grab a rebound and turn and kick it out: Plumlee, Davis, Leonard, even Kaman to some degree can probably get a fast break started under the right circumstances, so the Blazers have the personnel to get the fast break going, it's whether or not they want to commit to that. Part of committing to that, you'd have to figure, is adjusting the defense, right?

Willy: Yeah, transition is certainly keyed by turnovers to a large degree. It doesn't have to be, but usually is. That's why it's so tough, it's one of the cliches that every team says. Every year, every offseason, every team says they want to run more. It makes sense. If you can get out and run, offenses are just way more efficient in the first few seconds of the shot clock. It's not really rocket science or any sort of surprise for a team to say we're going to get out and run. It's more about can they make that happen. What are the obstacles to doing that? Certainly, the defense of the past few years has struggled to do that because there were so few turnovers. But we've got a lot of length. I wrote about this a few weeks ago. Even with the same scheme, and the same basic philosophy, you can tweak that around the edges and just the amount of length and ball pressure and how aggressive the weak side help is, and all these types of things. I wouldn't be surprised if we look at the defense and are like yeah, this is the same basic rules, but the results are fairly different where you might have more turnovers than we might expect from having the same scheme.

Chris: Yeah. We'll wrap on this. Let's talk a little bit about some of those small tweaks that Stotts might make. It's probably safe to assume that he's not going to double hard, and he's not going to trap hard. He'll probably stick with that single coverage scheme he did last year, going over the pick and rolls, dropping the big for the most part. So what are a few of the tiny things in there that they could do to force a few more turnovers here and there in order to maximize on that athleticism that they have on the court?

Willy: So the basic scheme is: big drops, weak side defenders stay pretty close to their shooters, and the tweaks are how far is the big going to drop. So with Robin Lopez, we dropped him really far. On some pick and rolls that were out at the three point line, Robin wouldn't even leave the paint. Which, if you look around the league, is pretty extreme. Even his brother, Brook, was stepping out just below the three point line, and it made sense because Robin is pretty slow, and so out that far he's going to have trouble containing the ball handler, even with the original defender getting over the pick as quickly as possible. And you don't really care all that much if you can see that space because Robin Lopez meeting somebody at the rim or near the rim and contesting that shot is still pretty good result for the defense because Lopez is so big and so good at contesting at the rim. You can't have that equation with this new group. Nobody is scared of Mason Plumlee near the rim. You're just not. But he's a lot more mobile. So even though he'll be dropping back, if he doesn't drop back as far, he'll be mobile enough, assuming his awareness is good enough, he can kind of increase that pressure, take away that space, and then have the speed to back pedal and keep that rolling big man in front of him at the same time. That makes it tough on the ball handler; he's got less space, there's more arms, it's just more dangerous and risky, so there's going to be more turnovers if you can do that well. Then the weak side defenders, even if your priority is still not giving up threes, if the guys have become more athletic and longer, then you can still achieve that goal and send more help. Because Aminu is like 6'10 with a crazy long wing-span, he might be able to take an extra step or half step into the paint than Batum would have, and still be able to prevent that three from getting off. All these half steps are just extra arms, extra bodies, there's less space for the ball. All of that could be more turnovers. It's pretty interesting how the mobility of players and the size of players in different places allows you to make tweaks. I think that question of having extra size on the wings in Aminu, and then you've got extra mobility for your bigs in Davis and Plumlee, and hopefully Vonleh... having those weird characteristics in those positions can allow you to do some different things on defense. That was the other thing that I was going to mention on offense too, is that you've got big wings and you've got mobile bigs, and you've also got wings that can't shoot but can finish, and you've got bigs that can shoot. I'm really curious also in the HORNS to see if Stotts experiments with putting people in weird places. So you set up for HORNS, you have your two big men on the elbows, but maybe instead of doing that, he puts Aminu and Vonleh at the elbows, and maybe you run a screen around Aminu. He's big enough and athletic enough that he can roll, he can catch that lob. Still forces that same help, but now that help defender isn't a wing, isn't somebody who's used to making those rotations. It's the guy that's guarding Meyers Leonard in the corner. And now you've got a center, maybe a pretty slow center, who's trying to duck into paint, prevent that lob pass, and then close out against Meyers in the corner. That'll be much more difficult for the big man to make that help and recover, do that rotation, and he's not used to it. There's an incredible feel for the game that really good help defenders have, where they know when to commit, when not to commit, where to position themselves, all this stuff. It's amazing, you watch teams that have these big men that can shoot, and these wings that can set really good screens, and you watch these big men commit to the paint every time way too early. Like WAY too early. It's this super easy pass for the point guard. Kicks it to the corner. That big man's momentum is going into the paint. He's in this mindset of I'm a big man, I need to protect the paint, and so he crashes in, and then that guy has like 3 seconds to line up his corner three and shoot. If you give Meyers time and he's in the corner.

Chris: That's a 45% shot for him.

Willy: Maybe more. I think it'll be really curious to see if... In most circumstances that our wings can't shoot is a negative for the offense. Obviously you'd want all your players to be able to shoot, if you had the choice. But to be able to use that to put defenders in positions they're not used to could be really interesting to see if we can't get those defenders to make more mistakes. I actually think it's a pretty intriguing on offense. Let's just say I'm not too excited about watching other teams score.

Chris: We'll get your final thoughts here really quick, because you brought up some interesting points. It sounds like... We know that Terry Stotts is going to do what he can to win games with the roster that he has. I do not ever believe that there is a single head coach in the NBA who is intentionally trying to lose games. I don't buy in to any tanking. I think the guys at that high of a level are too competitive. I think that professional basketball players at that level are too competitive. Nobody's going to be trying to lose. There won't be some kind of top down initiative to tell Stotts to lose game, so I think he'll try to do his best to win games.

Willy: For me, the thing is that you can still tank a little bit, not in that morally questionable way, but the question of... Kaman is probably a better player than Vonleh right now. If your only goal was to win the current game, he would get more minutes than Vonleh.

Chris: It could happen!

Willy: I would be shocked, because the team knows that the better priority is winning in the long run, and winning the games that matter. A coach might, in a sense, not try to maximize his odds at winning the game by playing players that are more important to the future of the franchise. I don't think it's fair to call that tanking, but it's certainly not... if every coach was trying to win every game as hard as possible, then everybody would play their guys like Thibodeau does. They'd run them into the ground. That's his mindset, every single game. Whereas Pop, he's resting guys, he's got this bigger picture in mind. That bigger picture can apply not only to keeping guys healthy for the playoffs, but also to who's going to be here next year, how much are they going to develop. All of those decisions are not trying to win the game. I don't think that's synonymous with tanking, but I think it'd be... Stotts is definitely going to make decisions in the long-term interest of the franchise, not in the interest of winning the next 5 minutes of gameplay.

Chris: Alright, that's fair to say. Maybe I could've used different terminology than tanking vs. not tanking there. What I meant to say is that in the interest of being competitive in basketball games next season, Terry Stotts is going to be able to employ a little bit of creativity or trickery with his basically non-traditional lineups. Would it be fair to say, and we'll wrap on this, that we could probably expect to see some non-conventional lineups on the floor next year?

Willy: I would hope so. I really want to see a lot of Aminu at the 4, even though we're relatively loaded at that position. We could use help anywhere. Maybe even at the 5, with how long he is, how good of a help defender he is, how good of a shot blocker he is, I want to see a lot of that. I think it'd be really interesting... One of the big questions is can Lillard and CJ, with how small they are, can they be a playable defensive unit together? And I kind of want to throw them to the wolves. I want to see what happens and just put them up against bigger guys, I want to go small. I want to play in some games a lot like Phoenix used to where you throw three guards out there and see what happens. I would love to see Lillard, CJ, Henderson, Aminu, and Meyers, or even Vonleh. I think the possibilities are so wide open with this team that you... the goal in many ways... Obviously you're trying to win, you're trying to compete. You want to have that value, that winning culture and all that, but really the main goal for next year is for every guy to get better and to find out what your guys can do, what they can't do, how good they are. To do that, you want to put them in as many positions as you can, in my opinion. I think Stotts should absolutely do a whole bunch of weird lineups. Different combinations, pretty much everything you can think of. The only one that I'm sure will happen that I'm not excited about is the Plumlee/Davis combination. I just think there's not anywhere near enough shooting, especially with our wings, to make that functional.

Chris: That one would get ugly. Lots of rebounds! Lots of misses to grab!

Willy: Yeah. I think the other thing that I'm looking for is not the unconventional lineups, but using a conventional lineup in an unconventional way. Like it's a pretty conventional lineup to play Lillard, Henderson, Aminu, Davis, Leonard. They're all playing their natural position. But if you have that conventional lineup but then you've got Meyers doing what the wing usually does, and Aminu doing with the center usually does... that same sort of goal of putting players in different situations, you're putting those guys in different spots and seeing what works. So yeah, I think there should be a lot of surprises next year, or at least I hope there are.

Chris: So 2015-16, for the Portland Trail Blazers, is going to be certainly a season of player development where we're kind of seeing the hands that Terry Stotts and Neil Olshey are going to have in their deck. I'm sure in the coming weeks Blazer's Edge listeners of the podcast and readers of will be able to see all the staff writers throw their ideas and toss them out there, and I know that we can see your work, Willy, on Wednesday mornings at, and also where can listeners find you on Twitter if they want more of your thoughts?

Willy: I'm @willyraedy. And that's also my Blazer's Edge username, I guess?

Chris: Excellent, so that's pretty simple, I'll make sure that the links are in the show notes there. Willy, I want to thank you again or coming on, this is probably like your 6th or 7th time, so I appreciate you being so gracious with your time, man.

Willy: Always a pleasure, Chris.

Chris: And that's going to do it for episode 63 of the Blazer's Edge Podcast, I'd like to thank you for listening, and I'd also like to thank Blazer's Edge staff writer Willy Raedy for joining the show. Make sure to tune in early next week where you can hear Phil Naessens and Dave Deckard. I'm Chris Lucia and I'll be back next weekend.