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Transcript of Blazer's Edge Podcast #64

Dave Deckard and Phil Naessens talk Portland Trail Blazers on Episode 64 of the Blazer's Edge Podcast. Here's the transcript!

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Blazer's Edge user Hail Boognish has once again provided the transcripts of the Blazer's Edge Podcast. Enjoy this past week's episode with Dave Deckard and Phil Naessens!

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Blazer's Edge Podcast Ep. #64

Phil: Welcome to the Blazer's Edge. My name is Phil Naessens and I'm the lucky cohost to this weekly radio show. You can catch it daily over at Max Sports channels, and daily at Power FM in England. We're here on Stitcher and on iTunes, and I want to send out a big shout out to all you listeners. The Blazer's Edge is number 7 amongst Sports at Stitcher, and it's also finally in the top 100 of all their shows. I'm very proud of it, and I'm very thankful to you, and so is my cohost. Please welcome the managing editor of Blazer's Edge, the exalted poobah himself. Dave Deckard, welcome to your own show!

Dave: Well you know that's all about you, Phil. The girls are all tuning in to hear you, we know. You've go your groupies everywhere and they just push us to the top of the charts wherever we go. If you weren't such an attractive guy, we would have no hope, so thank you for being with us! We sure do appreciate it.

Phil: Yeah, I have a face for radio, but it is what it is. I get a lot of emails too about this show, folks that didn't even know Blazer's Edge existed. I thought that was odd, cause I thought everybody knew who you were, but I guess they don't. They find us on Stitcher or on iTunes. We're at number 123! But I gotta tell you something man. You know who's two spots ahead of us in the top 100?

Dave: Who's that?

Phil: Joe O'Steen.

Dave: Oh, lord. Okay, we gotta catch and bury him.

Phil: Yeah, this is unacceptable. Folks, we need you to listen to this show just so we can get past Joel O'Steen. It's nothing personal against Joel, but we'd like to be above him for reasons we won't get into on this particular show.

Dave: Oh sure it is, that guy's a doofus, are you kidding? I have no problem saying it. Yeah, no. We gotta be hip. I have no reason for existing if Joel O'Steen is more popular than we are. The point you make is pretty valid, people wonder "Well why are you doing the podcast?" and blah, blah, blah. Well, there are a couple of reasons. Number 1 is we can compact so many topics in such a tight timeframe here, as far as work schedule. It takes me an hour to do this podcast, it would literally take 9 or 10 hours at least to pipe out all the stuff we're talking about. But the other one is that it does reach a new audience. Our audience is not just from Blazer's Edge coming to listen us. It's audiences from different places learning about Blazer's Edge in Great Britain, and the Portland Trail Blazers in different places. Across the globe! It's a valuable thing, and we're glad you do it with us Phil. So what's up, what's on the docket for this week?

Phil: Well I think that this is going to be a doozy, this question. This topic, the opening one, before we get into my boy Mason Plumlee going off last night. By the way, we are recording this on Saturday, just in case anything happens between now and Tuesday's publication, you'll know why. The difference between a young team and a veteran team, and NBA team. What are the differences between the two, because Portland is a young team, okay, they're young, but they have some experience, as opposed to a San Antonio type of team, a veteran team. What do you think some of the differences are, cause I've got quite a list too?

Dave: I hear San Antonio's got a pretty nice power forward now.

Phil: Yeah, Tim Duncan!

Dave: That's right, exactly. Look, there are so many differences, but the way to put it is: with a veteran team, you don't have to worry about some basics as much. Where you're going to move, how a guy's going to react to a play, how teammates are going to react to each other. Individual talent is individual talent, but it's a five man game out on the court, and all that individual talent has to blend together, particularly on the defensive end. Simply put, young guys have to think about, and remember, what veterans do by instinct. The difference between thinking about and remembering is, obviously, sometimes you forgot, but even in the space that you think about it, even if it takes only half a second, that's a half a second you're farther behind the play instead of being half a second ahead of it, because the veteran already did it. At this level of play, that half a second or second of difference makes a huge difference. It's the difference between a guy getting a step on you, and getting into the lane, and you staying in front of him and foiling a play. So, all those things like technique, work, the working of the defensive scheme, where to have your hands, where to have your eyes; all of those, veterans mostly understand instinctively and are able, then, to play at a higher level, think of a higher order of stuff like how this is all supposed to work together. This frees up their mind for scanning the floor and all that, whereas younger players, by and large, are still thinking about what they are doing and what they are supposed to do, and that occupies your time. That's simply not as effective.

Phil: You know what, I coached tennis players for 30 years, high performance ones. Trust, especially doubles players, trust. A new doubles team, you won't see them do things that a veteran team will do, because they don't know each other as well. They know that the other can play, but they don't know who's going to take the ball in the middle, for example. They're not allowed to cheat, because they really don't know if that guy, his partner, is going to cover that wide open territory. It's the same in basketball, it's all about trust. These veteran teams, and I'm referring to a veteran team, not a team put together of veterans who've played together for a little while, I'm talking about San Antonio. These guys intimately know each other. They know when it's not their night. They know when it is their night. They know where each other are going to be every second they're on the floor. I mean, you can blindfold them and they could find each other. That's the difference. Now this team, and you made a great point by the way, this is a young team with very good athletes. But they have never played together, they've played against each other, they know that they can play, but they've never played together. That defense, and I must say this, they've brought in some very good defensive minded young people, that defense is going to take some time. They're not going to have that familiarity that a veteran team would have. Now how long that takes to put together, that's up to the coaching staff, because also with the trust, Dave, I think these young people have to trust coach Stotts and the system.

Dave: Well, we actually addressed this in the mailbag this morning. I suggested that a coherent defense, and the progress toward it, may not be measured in weeks or months, but seasons. We saw it, the example I used is when Arron Afflalo stepped in for Wesley Matthews when he got injured last March. Afflalo's a veteran, and he was surrounded by vets, and most of those vets were good defenders, as is Afflalo himself. But you could still see the difference on the floor with Matthews not in there, because Afflalo had to think. Afflalo wasn't used to the system, he wasn't used to what he was supposed to be doing and trusting his teammates. It was kind of minor, but it was there. Now, imagine replacing four players out of the starting lineup and shaving at least 5 years off of the experience at each position you replaced. That's going to be an enormous difference, and even if you have brilliant individual defensive players, it's going to take a while for these guys to get it together, probably. I mean, miracles can happen, we never want to deny that, Joel O'Steen, but you generally need to play in rhythm with guys for one, two, maybe three seasons before you get to the point where you're completely able to play instinctively. You generally have to play for more years of experience than most of these guys have, in order to get to that point, so the idea that they're going to able to do it right away is a pipe dream.

Phil: Well, I don't think they're going to do it right away, but I think they're going to get it, only because I believe in the coaching staff. I believe that they're going to instill that trust, and these kids are going to soak up what they learn and adapt to it quickly, and put it together quickly. The one thing though, you know, because as you know, I believe that they're going to make the playoffs this year. I know it's going to take an amazing effort, and I'm probably going to be wrong, I'll be the first to admit it if it does, but one of the things that's going to matter is how does Damian Lillard respond to all this too. When you think about it, and this is back to that trust issue, he's used to coming down the floor on an NBA team where he's got four guys he can trust. He doesn't know any of these guys, any of the new guys, and there's plenty of new faces here. How does he react, and when we go back to this veteran and youth thing, veteran teams don't usually panic. Is there going to be some panic to this at the beginning of the season? I think there might be. It's going to be a big shock for Damian Lillard. I'm not saying that he's not going to have a great season or he's not a great player or leader. What I'm saying is, is that it's going to be a completely different situation or him too.

Dave: There are two parts to that. First of all, I'm frankly less worried about panic than surrender. What I mean by that is it's awfully easy to get used to putting up a nice effort, but losing by double digits. That happens to young teams a lot, and at a certain point you just come to expect it. Not that your competitive fire goes out, but you just know that this is the way things are going to go, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I don't think at any point the Blazers will flat out panic, but I do think there's a danger of them getting used to, especially in the next season or two, having a decent order or two now and then, but ultimately surrendering the game. That's going to be yes, very hard to watch, when we've been used to watching the other for the past couple of years. Now on the Lillard leadership issue, there's a difference... Look, with veteran teams, you don't have to point out who's a leader, you already know, right? 99% of the time, if you have to name a guy the leader, he ain't. That's why you're naming him that. That's an issue, but also we were just talking about defense and how critical that is going to be in order for Portland to succeed in the short term, because their offense probably isn't going to be great. Well, if you point out the defensive leader on this team, is it really going to be Damian Lillard? Is he going to be able to lead the charge there with more than just encouragement or badgering at other guys to defend where he can't? That kind of defensive leadership, if it's not shown on the court, isn't usually successful. In other words, people end up rolling their eyes, especially when you're losing, when the guy who's the offensive star says hey, why aren't you guys defending? You know, when you're on a six game losing streak and your record's no good, you turn back to him and you think dude, why don't you defend? If you're the guy getting all the credit for the offense, why don't you man up? Why are you telling me to defend? So I'm not saying that this is set in stone, but you certainly have some questions. There are some issues to iron out here, as far as leadership and what that defense is going to look like. Probably, I think someone else is going to have to step up and do that work  selflessly in order for the Blazers to succeed.

Phil: It's going to be Aminu. I did that fantasy basketball projection, and my reasons for optimism posting this week, and you know, I did a lot of research into his defense. He is an amazing defender. Like, first rate defender. Defender first type guy, thankfully, because his offense needs some work, but still. It's going to have to be someone like him, and I think he's probably the best defender on this basketball team? I would think. It's going to have to be him.

Dave: This is what some of the young guys need to realize. The door is wide open for them. We talked about CJ McCollum in weeks past, and how wide open the door is for him on offense. But defensively, it's a double door stuck on open, and if a Plumlee, if an Aminu, if Ed Davis, or somebody, can step up and really become that captain on the defensive end, they have a chance to really, really shine and cement themselves, not just with this team, but in this league, for years to come. I guarantee you if you do a good job defensively in Portland next year, you're going to stand out. People are going to notice you.

Phil: Mike Miller. Should they keep him just because he's a veteran? Those young people will listen to him. He's a very popular guy wherever he goes. He does work hard. He tries to play defense, he really does, but his body's not going to do it for him every night. Is it worth it to keep him, because there are times I think it is, and there's times I think you know what, maybe cut him loose and let him try to get another ring somewhere.

Dave: Yeah, "worth it" is a tricky term. Is his salary worth keeping him? Sure it is, especially since the Blazers have all that money and they're going to have to spend up to the minimum anyway and it costs them literally nothing to keep him at this point, so yes, it would absolutely be worth it to keep him. But, the thing you've got to consider is if he's going to be that good of a leader in this situation, if his heart is really going to be in it, is this where he wants to be. Because if he's just sitting around, playing out the string, and he's not interested, it's not going to be that quality in the locker room or on the court that you'd hope to see. I think, in fairness to Mike Miller, I think you probably want to cut him, to let him go, so that he can sign on with a contender if that's what he wants. If he comes into my office and he says hey, I'm really excited about this, and I want to be a tutor and a coach and this is my opportunity, so I'm glad I'm here, that's one thing. But if all things are equal, I think I'd rather him be happy wherever he goes, and let my younger guys get a chance to step up. Because, frankly, all the leadership in the world is not going to make that much of a difference in the Win/Loss record this year, at least the veteran leadership isn't. And yeah, I've got Kaman to do that, and assistant coaches to do that, so let Miller be happy if he's not able to give everything he can here, and go on with the team you have.

Phil: Well, that's fair enough, I suppose. I happen to like him, so I hope they keep him and I hope he does what you describe. I hope he goes in the office and says hey, look, my career's almost over. I like what you're going, and this is a great opportunity for me to transition, and then they keep him for that reason, but if not I say let him go.

Dave: The problem is that you can lead in certain ways, and the defensive leadership that we talked about is important. The leadership that Lillard is going to do, as far as maintaining the integrity of the team and the brand, that is also important. Mike Miller coaching guys up would make something of a difference, but no amount of pep talks and little advice or whatever is going to turn these guys from inexperienced players into experienced players, or from a fractured team into a gelled team overnight. It takes time. Yes, it takes effort and yes, it takes knowledge, but you cannot divorce it from the time element. So, Miller being here, yes, no, it's better but not that much better, and I don't think this team will get that much better until they've had that time. The analogy, and I know everybody's awaiting for an analogy from Dave, so we'll dip in. The one I like to use for this is the professional players always say "Inexperienced poker players play their own cards, whereas experienced players are able to look beyond their own cards and play everybody else's as well." There's now way to teach that. You teach the basics, you teach the odds, you teach fundamentals, but a guy's got to get around the table and play hundreds, thousands, ten thousand times, before he's able to get beyond the beginning stages of that learning curve. The Blazers aren't at the very beginning of their learning curves, some of these players have experience, but nothing is going to allow them to play other people's hand except for time. So look. Just let the guys go out there, don't expect that much in the win/loss column, hope to see improvement, let them take their knocks. See what happens! I think it'll work out okay in the end. I don't see any way of speeding up that process and making it work okay in the beginning.

Phil: You could bring Joel O'Steen to talk to them before the games.

Dave: Oh, lord. There aren't enough prayers in the world, especially not from that guy.

Phil: You know what, he gets so excited and so fired up, you'd think he could fly to Krypton, and that's where I would like to send him. It is what it is, I suppose, it's going to be an interesting season though. Mason Plumlee looked good, man. I like watching him play. I told you, he's going to be a very welcome addition to the Blazers. I know it's a scrimmage, but it's a step above the summer league.

Dave: Yeah, and look... You've got to love everything that Plumlee does, especially in that... We talked about this last week, there's no downside to it. But if he can come out and show himself very proficient, if he looks better than some of those veterans, especially if he makes the team, that is a great boost for Plumlee and for the Blazers. Because now he's walking into the season saying I did this. All the rest of his teammates go mad respect, dude, and now they have someone else that they think they can rely on, and that confidence will go a long way towards building the trust that we were just talking about. It's not that players don't want to trust, it's just that they need confirmation, they need feedback, in order to be able to do it, as we all do. We all walk into situations depending on our own skill, and saying if it's going to be me, I've got to do it. Only gradually do we learn to trust our coworkers, teammates or whatever it is. When we get feedback that they're competent. Well, this is a way to short cut Plumlee's competence ratio a little bit. He looks good on that national stage, and all of a sudden the players around him are going hey, I can trust this guy, I'll rely on him, and the more of that that this team gets, the better off they're going to be.

Phil: Yup, I agree with you. He looked good though, man. It's always nice to watch a 7 footer come down the floor in the open court. A skinny Charles Barkley, someone said. I liked it, I'm a big fan of Mason Plumlee. Now, when he was playing for Brooklyn though, because it's the Nets, but the schedule came out, Dave. Isn't that fantastic?

Dave: Yes, they limited the number of back to backs and stuff like that for most of the league, which is wonderful, I think. I think they're paying attention to injuries, and they've decided look, we can't put that much stress on these guys, or at least they're trying that. Now, it'll be interesting to see whether actual fatigue has to do with number of games sandwiched in X number of days, or if it has to do with overall travel time, because I know you've traveled a lot. Traveling is never relaxing.

Phil: No.

Dave: So we'll see if you end up actually putting these guys on the road for more days, because you space out the games, whether that adds a positive effect, a negative effect, or no effect at all. But I'm glad that they are trying.

Phil: I spent 71 days on the road in Europe once. It's no fun, man. Okay, it was fun, but you just want to go home and it takes forever. Traveling is hard work, you know? Athletes get paid a lot of money, but still, they have to travel a lot. It's tough, and those back to backs in the NBA, those aren't any fun. 5 games in 7 nights, that's too much. I'm glad they're trying to work on that, but only 5 nationally televised games. I don't like that, I want to see them more, it's easier for me obviously, living in the East. Were you surprised they got that many, because last year, if I remember right, Memphis, who was a team a lot of people thought could make the Finals, only had 3 nationally televised games. Were you surprised by the amount that the Trail Blazers got this year?

Dave: No, it's a low number comparatively, but you had to expect that, right? Nobody outside of Portland, and then some basketball analyst purists, who like what's happened to Portland in a statistical and a projection sense, that's the only audience the Blazers are going to have. They're going to be immediately dismissed and forgotten by everybody else in popular consciousness, and rightly so. They're not going to be worth following for the casual fan, so there's no way a network is going to want to put them on national TV a lot. And hey, that's just the way it is. You gotta expect it if you're a Blazers fan. You're not going to see your team get a lot of credit until they earn it. It will not be given to them in advance. New York and LA might get a little bit of that, but Portland, no. You have to scrap for everything you get, and really, those national games are going to come a year after you've been good. Get good first, and then complain about the lack of national TV scheduling.

Phil: December 12th, Dave. You know what day that is, right?

Dave: December 12th, fill me in.

Phil: December 12th is, I believe, I don't have the schedule in front of me, but I believe that's the night that the Trail Blazers entertain the New York Knicks.

Dave: Oh, what fun. I can look that up for you on Blazer's Edge!

Phil: That might not be a bad idea, because unfortunately I've got 17 tabs open, and not one of them...

Dave: I'm looking at it right now. December 12th, Saturday. New York Knicks. Which of course is a game that all the world is looking forward to seeing. Portland vs. New York.

Phil: The only world that matters is us, my friend.

Dave: The titanic following. What's great about that is it's sandwiched between a 4 game road swing and a 5 game road swing, which is just brutal. They go to the East coast, well kind of, Milwaukie, Cleveland, Minnesota, and the come back to Phoenix, then they've got two home games, and then the next week they take off for a 5 game road swing which goes even farther East. That December, that is brutal. Not just because of number of road games, but just, here, come home, spend a couple of games at home, now at to the road forever. Oh, you get to come home twice, but out to the road forever! Yeah, that's going to be ghastly, no fun.

Phil: Where going to need the ice staff for that game on the 12th.

Dave: well, we're going to need a cheese grater for our eyes for plenty of these games.

Phil: I wouldn't say plenty of them.

Dave: Oh come one, how many bad teams are there? I mean, are you really, really looking forward to Blazers/Denver? I mean, they're a division rival.

Phil: I looked forward to it last year, remember?

Dave: Yeah, well that's true.

Phil: That was really hot. I remember we did my daily show the next day, and I could barely stay awake because I had stayed up to watch that game, it was great. That was one of the nights that they just romped Denver.

Dave: Oh yeah, that was great.

Phil: We're not going to have too many of those, but I think the Trail Blazers will beat Denver every time they play them, because Denver is in disarray. Worse than the Blazers! Think about what they've done. Denver had a worse summer than Portland did.

Dave: Well, you know what I love, getting back to schedule though, I love this December. You've got 11 road games and I mean... It's just a sea of travel. And then in January, you have literally one 3 game road trip and that's it. They go out Friday, Saturday, Monday in January, those are the only road games. So it's like feast or famine. You look at this going really? This couldn't have been spread out a little better? But hey, these guys are young, their bodies should be able to handle it, but they're not going to know what him them in December, and then January they'll have their feet up at home all month.

Phil: Yeah, and I'm going to be up late every night, I can see it. But it's okay, I want to watch this team. I'm looking forward to it. I know that people think I'm crazy for this, and probably I am, but I'm looking forward to seeing what happens with these guys. I've said this a hundred times, but I like them as individuals a lot. A LOT. Now how that works out as a team, that's up to Coach Stotts. That's someone I do have some trust in. I've watched him operate for years, and I like what I see. I think it's going to turn out a lot better than people think it will. I hope so. Now, we had a Twitter question last week that we didn't get to because I couldn't find my notes. Here we go, are you ready?

Dave: I am.

Phil: Henry Sims or Markieff Morris? Who should the Trail Blazers get? Either or neither?

Dave: I would say neither, at this point.

Phil: Thank you very much, shall we move on now?

Dave: Well no, we can talk about them a little bit. Both, I would say, are decent young players. 25 years old, 6'10 or so. Look, they're both good. Sims has excited me at times in Philadelphia, he's had some nice games there. He's certainly a decent rebounder, and he can score a little, but he's not your classic center, and I don't think he's good enough to really chase after. Markieff Morris, of course, in Phoenix, I think has done well. I've been fairly impressed by him. He's not as much, or as authoritative of a rebounder, and he's a little better scorer than Sims is, I think, but again, is he good enough, really, to chase after? This midrange game could be kind of exciting, if that's what you'd like, but... Neither one of them is really a guy that I want to build around, and I'm not looking to add just solid pieces to this team right now. I want to go for broke if I'm going to add someone, because we've already got enough inexperienced young guys to try out. I don't need to build a building block underneath them when they're not probably going to be there. I want another guy who's going to be a super home run, or a super miss, before I'll take a middle of the road guy that won't make an impact.

Phil: I'm not bringing anybody in the locker room who pouts. Henry Sims and Markieff Morris, they pout when they play. I don't like either one of them for that reason. There's going to be enough problems trying to build that trust, and then you've got somebody pouting all the time, and whining all the time? No thanks. We went through the Jail Blazers era once before, and I've got a feeling it will be Jail Blazers II if we bring in Markieff Morris. No Henry Sims is a different kind of citizen, a different kind of person, but he pouts on the court too. You can't have that on a rebuilding team. You have to have energy, and you have to be positive out there. These young guys, they have to learn to trust each other, and if there's a weak link of those five, then you're in big trouble. I think that Markieff Morris and Henry Sims are both weaklings on an inexperience team like this, or would be I should say. I veto this move.

Dave: The problem is that there's no guarantee they're going to play, and of course that's going to be their issue. And if they do play, then who're you taking off the court? Do you like them better than Plumlee? or Davis? or Meyers Leonard? I'm not entirely sure I do. In some ways, Morris especially, would be a better player right now. I think you would get an edge with him, I could see that. But overall as a player, forecasting long-term, do I think he's going to be good? Sure. Do I think he's going to be better than any of those guys, or, more to the point, do I think he has way more upside than those guys? I really don't. I like Plumlee better, I might like Leonard's potential upside better. So why not go with guys you have?

Phil: That's what I think. Unless of course they want to trade Noah Vonleh for Markieff Morris, then I would do it. What's the fascination with Vonleh? I don't get it. Nobody seems to. Only a few people, and they're kind of gazing into crystal balls. Noah Vonleh's a project, he's a gifted athlete, greatly gifted, but he's a project, Dave. If Michael Jordan, and he's been through this before hasn't he, with Kwame Brown, if he thought for a second that this kid was going to be something, he would've kept him.

Dave: There's nothing wrong with a project, especially on this team, like I just said. This is what I'd like. Blazers can't get anything, so they should get more projects. But Vonleh's athleticism makes him a good gamble, I think, as far as that goes. I'd rather see a guy like that than Henry Sims anyway. I like that idea, I like the idea of having a project. Whether Vonleh's actually going to pan out... who knows? but that is the whole point of a project. You've got him cheap, and you're rolling the dice. If they come up in that certain low percentage, you did amazing. If they don't, didn't cost anything. Now in this case, the cheap only refers to salary, they traded Batum for him, which is kind of expensive actually, but still. The point holds. Noah Vonleh is a backup quarterback speculation kind of guy, a guy you get excited about because you haven't seen enough of him. When you do see enough of him right away, you might not like him, but that doesn't mean he's not good. The reason he's a good speculation as a backup quarterback, fantasy guy, is that he has that potential and that's really all you're looking for right now.

Phil: He won me some money, I told you that last year, right?

Dave: Yeah!

Phil: He came through, I think I paid Fan Duel like $3000 and he had like 19 points and 10 rebounds. He's got that kind of capability, but when you people start comparing him to Shawn Kemp, I'm thinking you didn't really watch him. Thinking that he was the centerpiece of the trade for Nicolas Batum, no he wasn't. He was the throw in. Both teams wanted to get rid of a contract and he was the evener. It wasn't Gerald Henderson, Henderson is a very good basketball player. A much better, he's not a project, he's actually arrived. He's going to flourish, but Noah Vonleh, how is he going to get on the floor when you've got Meyers, Davis, Kaman... Where are you going to put this kid? Whose minutes is he going to take? He's going to sit on the bench next to Mike Miller, that's where he's going to be.

Dave: That's what he'll do this year, but your hope is 3 years down the road, or even toward the end of the season, because look: we can't even talk about a rotation for this team. That's the reality. Damian Lillard is going to start at point guard, there's your rotation. Other than that, we just do not know. And it may change, because Stotts may end up going with the best possible lineup to create wins at the beginning of the season, but when you get into February, March, and you realize the playoffs are not in your future, you may end up giving other guys more playing time, like a Noah Vonleh. Basically, you don't expect him to bust down the door and start on Day 1, but what you hope is he's looking better in February, March, April. He's getting some playing time, and he's showing something with it, so now going into next season you can say hey, this is this guy's third year. He is a little bit seasoned. He understands what's at stake, and he's ready to step up. If you get that out of Vonleh, that is fantastic. Now, as you say, that's a lot less than was expected out of Shawn Kemp. There's no comparison to anybody right now that is valid until we've actually seen the guy do something. No Kemps, no Barkleys, no Gerald Hendersons. The comparison is just not there. We have to take him on his own terms and say if he's made incremental progress by the end of this year and he's ready to make some noise next fall, he's good to go.

Phil: If I see him playing in February I'm going to begin to cry.

Dave: Oh, why? Seriously?

Phil: Because I want to see the team make the playoffs, Dave.

Dave: Well okay, alright, granted. You shouldn't cry, you should be ecstatic if he's not playing because they're on the playoff route.

Phil: If he plays, I'll be crying because my team has lost.

Dave: Yeah, but won't you be more excited?

Phil: No, I want to see them go to the playoffs because I want to see something happen fantastically, something amazing to happen. I want to see the Trail Blazers become a national story: look at this Cinderella coming to the ball. That's what I want to see, because I don't want them to be on 5 games. That's one of the reasons we do this show, one of the reasons I wanted to with you when you asked. I wanted people to really get a feel for what it's like to be a Blazer fan from some of the best fans I've ever met. Watching the Blazers play inside the Moda Center, that's my dream come true when it happens. I love watching that team, and I want to see them get to the playoffs, and I want to see that organization and the great fans get the recognition for how fantastic they are. That's why I want to see them get to the playoffs, I'm sorry for being so optimistic. Please forgive me.

Dave: No, look... We don't pre plan the questions that come up, but you've just posed another huge one, I think. Would you not be just as excited, in a way, about seeing a guy like Noah Vonleh really arrive on the scene even if the Blazers aren't going to make the playoffs, even if they're only going to win 25-30 games. If they do that and Vonleh has just gone bonkers and proven himself maybe a starter next season, or certainly you start projecting him as a starter down the line because he's exciting, and he could maybe be a star some day, would that not excite you just as much?

Phil: Yes it would. Because I have him on my dynasty team. I took him early, because I figured maybe in two years he's going to pan out. So yes, I would be excited, but I'll be more excited if he does play a little bit and they still get to the playoffs. That will make me ecstatic. You'll be able to hear me all the way from the East coast, shouting at the top of the mountaintops, "YES!"

Dave: Yeah, well, that's not likely to happen, but I'm going to bet money that Blazer fans will say, when push comes to shove, they'll really be able to get just as excited about a Vonleh or a Davis having a great individual season this year as they will about the team. Not that they wouldn't rather see the team in the playoffs, but really, understanding that's probably not in the cards, they will be able to generate a similar level of excitement for what the Blazers can offer this year. Which might be seeing an individual breakout star!

Phil: Yeah, okay. I'll go with that. I won't give you the whatever on this one.

Dave: Oh Phil. That's good, because I was wounded last week. I've been thinking about that whatever —

Phil: You know I dropped that whatever for a reason, I'll tell you off air, cause you're going to die laughing, cause I found out something I needed to know when I used the whatever. Anyhow, you know something? This has been fun to do once again, sir. Once again it's been a blast. And again, I'll tell you, I'm completely floored. We are number 7 on Stitcher!

Dave: Yeah, we'll get to number 1 eventually.

Phil: We're going to get to number one, there's no doubt about that. But number 7 is huge!

Dave: Yup, we thank you guys for all of that. Number 7 is in the playoff bracket, isn't it? We'll have to see who we match up with.

Phil: Absolutely it is. We'll be number 1, and the Trail Blazers will be number 8.

Dave: That would be awesome.

Phil: I think it should happen.

Dave: Actually, I think we'll never be number 1 internet wide on anything, as long as the Kardashians exist, but one can hope for a solid number 2.

Phil: Yeah, but you know what? Portland and the Trail Blazers are must see TV, that's real reality. They're not scripted, and it's going to be a great season, I'm looking forward to it already. I'm looking forward to covering it with you. I'm looking forward to interacting with the folks. I want to send a big shout-out: thank you so much for transcribing this podcast. You know, we need the listeners, but we're really happy to provide that service. We will have it up when we put it up. But we want you to listen, that's why we do the show, and if you can't listen, obviously, we have something for you so that you can follow along too. Have anything else, sir?

Dave: No, I think that's pretty good for this week. We got a couple of exciting topics for next week, I know, but it's a long offseason so we'll save them. Thanks again, Phil! It's been wonderful!

Phil: Thank you, sir. And thank you, out there, for making us number 7. Hopefully, the next time we talk to you we'll be in the top 5. It's a big number, and it's all because of you. For Dave Deckard, I'm Phil Naessens. Thanks for listening to the Blazer's Edge.

--Dave / @DaveDeckard / @Blazersedge