My name is Cameron and I’m a Blazers fan. Not only that I’m one of those lifelong Blazers fans from Oregon. As a Blazers fan most of us are addicted to optimism. We build-up players like Steve Blake, we believe get behind guys like Joel Przybilla and our announcers believe that we'd beat every great team if they'd just call a dang travel on those dang superstars. As a Blazers fan I constantly find myself somewhere between the aforementioned polarizing bright-eyed optimism and downtrodden frustration. So far this season I've had an argument with myself:
While the Oscar Robertson mentions are a bit much Damian Lillard has shown more than any rookie so far this season and is undoubtedly the point guard of the future. He is the real deal and will be the buzz of the Blazers for years to come. This is through 10 games, but perfectly justified. The kid is NBA-ready and if he keeps playing like this he deserves All-Star talks (and maybe the Isiah Thomas mentions might not look that off). In fact, Portland’s starting five looks like a playoff contending team. Let’s play a game it’s called guess the starting five. One team is the Blazers, the other is the West Conference leading (9-1) Grizzlies:
The first column is the starting five for the Blazers, say what? Sure this team is 5-5, but they have a new coach and a new court general they’ll grow and be a 6 seed in the playoffs. Lillard, who’s responsible for that 19 spot will be the ROY, Aldridge will be an All-Star, Batum will be an All-Star snub, Hickson will continue to average a double-dbouble and Wes Mathews will lock-down two-guards across the West. Sounds nice right? Feels like a puzzle that has everything it takes to make a push. Sure, it’s not a Nash, Kobe, Dwight combo, but it’s a nice big three.
Did you say big three? Remember our last big three? We’re supposed to be competing for championships right NOW.
That can be chalked up to one body part on a couple different players (knees of Oden and Roy, side not: I wish Roy a speedy recovery from the latest surgery).
Sure, but you want to talk about that starting five? Yeah, they’re pretty decent, but Portland’s sixth man couldn’t contend for a 9th Man of the Year award if they had one. Portland’s sixth leading scorer is averaging 3.9PPG. By contrast the Clippers sixth man (20.7) and Thunder’s sixth man (17.6) contribute more than a handful of starters. And to make matters worse the Clippers sixth man (Crawford) was in Portland all last season! You don’t win very many ball games when your starting five accounts for 86% of your points. The guys need a rest eventually and somebody has to score.
Despite how well Aldridge, Batum and Lillard are playing the Blazers are still 5-5 and the question must be asked; can these guys keep it up? Teams will start to game plan for Lillard and figure his game out more. Teams will figure out Terry Stott’s coaching style from game film and the Blazers numbers will come back to earth. And if Portland is in position for a late push how much leadership is one the team? Aldridge has been the leader for about a season, which was just a 66-gamer.
Stars win Championships, whether it’s Kobe, Dirk, LeBron, D-Wade, Durant, Melo. You need a top 10 player in the NBA to win it all and Aldridge just isn’t that guy. Portland will stuck in the chasm of mediocrity. Unable to get a high draft pick, unable to make a playoff push and unable to attract big-time free agents.
I’ve subscribed to both schools of thought multiple times this season and will continue with this duality all year. Portland is headed in the right direction with the nucleus of Aldridge, Batum and Lillard. Matthews and Hickson make nice complementary players to round out the starting five that looks playoff-ready, but not even LeBron could carry this second unit to an NBA Championship. The reality is you can view the glass as half empty or half full, but either way it’s half.
With that said, half the way to a legitimate contending team is a step in the right direction. With a new coach, new PG and a project rookie center Portland will grow and with luck, a couple Mid-level players and no knee injuries (knock on wood...seriously, if you read that line knock on wood right now) Portland will be a perennial playoff team and postseason threat.
(Reblogged from www.cameronclow.blogspot.com)