Let’s review the moves:
- Nik Stauskas, Wade Baldwin IV, and two 2nds to Cleveland for Rodney Hood
- Caleb Swanigan to Sacramento for Skal Labissiere
…And the result?
The Blazers have dumped three benchwarmers—which is what they were, a week ago—and replaced them with two players who’ve shown their value in a rotation. There’s no missing the fact that Labissiere’s value there is closer to what Noah Vonleh showed in Portland, but the fact stands.
Here’s the shocking part
The late owner of the team was a co-founder of Microsoft, fercryinoutloud. Moneyball might’ve started on the diamond, but it’s as good a fit to basketball as any sport I can think of, and who better to embrace that movement than Paul Allen and his Vulcans? Never forget that metrics make as much a part of the Blazers’ institutional culture as the organization’s penchant for secrecy.
These two trades might well be "meh" in the form of ledger entries, but be sure that the angles have been measured and the numbers have been run. These two guys might only add a win or two to the Blazers’ bottom line, but this season that might well make the difference that gives the team home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Fault Neil Olshey for failure to close on a bigger deal, if you must, but don’t go thinking that these moves doom the team to be no better than they were a week ago.
Instead, think of RoLo and how he turned a stealth-tanker into a contender. Think of Hendo and how he made the second unit hum for one glorious season, before his bum hip encouraged him to move on.
I agree with the complainers: it sure would be nice to see this ballclub add one more true needle-mover to its roster… But if we see better consistency from the guys we already have, we probably won’t need one.
Unless he blows up in short order, Hood is not the third weapon the team could so surely use. Even so, he’s no scrub, and he offers size and athleticism that render him less of a liability on defense than either of the players he replaced.
With the season’s hell stretch looming, and the bumps and bruises mounting, Hood’s presence on the roster gives the Blazers one more viable body to keep the offense moving and take some of the scoring burden off of the guys who’re presently shouldering it on the regular.
Skal’s more of a high-risk-high-reward proposition, and that assumes that he can fit quickly into Stotts’ system. He’s more mistake-prone than the four guys we already have at the 4 and 5, but still an incremental improvement over Swanigan… who was something of a dervish even when economy of movement was called for.
The Blazers won’t come out like gangbusters with these two guys, but their presence could very well make the small nudges that take the team a round further into the playoffs.
Let’s all buckle up and enjoy the ride, eh?