Playoffs or Bust?

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To make the playoffs or not to make the playoffs, that is the question that the Blazers must answer. As of today, before their game against the Nets, the Blazers are 2.5 games behind the Lakers for the 8th and final spot. According to the number crunchers at ESPN, they have a 6.2% chance of making it. The Lakers just lost World Peace for 6 weeks (the season) and the Jazz are in free fall. It could come down to Dallas and Portland. While I’d like for Portland to actually have the ability to draft a good player in the 1st round come June, the Lakers or Jazz may make that impossible if they both struggle down the stretch.

 

To win is to make the playoffs. If that does occur, it surely looks like a 4-0 defeat at the hands of the Spurs or Thunder. Would that really be worth it? Do the players have anything to gain from that potentially abysmal showing? The team has numerous holes and a lack of depth and a trip to the playoffs for four games won’t do anything to alleviate these issues.

 

The Blazers will have some cap-space this summer but I would like them to lockup Hickson for a few years. A cheap and talented SG in the 1st rounds could go a long way in helping them improve dramatically next year. In January and February, when Batum and Matthews sustained nagging injuries, the team turned to over-matched players that further stressed the remaining starters. When a team has to turn to Pavlovic for minutes, you know the bench needs some serious off-season attention.

 

This off-season will be very important to the maturation of the young Blazers. Lillard will be ROY, Batum will be all of 24, and Leonard has shown promise of late. Hell, Hickson is only 24 as well. They could have a very good group of young players. Maybe this is the summer to commit fully with Aldridge or seek avenues to increase the talent of the team by trading away its greatest asset (It worked for Denver!).

 

Playoffs run or not, I’m very interested in seeing where this ride will take us. I’ll root for them to crush the Thunder or Spurs, I’d just rather them take this year off so they can be more formidable next April. 

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2013 NBA Draft – SG

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The Portland Trailblazers offseason has several components and in this article I will go over the draft. As it stands, the Blazers are tied for the 12th slot with Dallas in the lottery, so a 7 in 1000 chance to get the first pick. If they go on a minor run or Dallas goes on a minor dive, and the Blazers finish with the 13th worst record or better, their pick goes to the Bobcats. For this articles sake, let’s just assume they stay where they are currently slotted.

 

The biggest need beyond depth on this team, in my opinion, is a true starting shooting guard. Wesley Matthews is a decent player but he is not much better than an average shooting guard. The role they had him slotted for was to be Brandon Roy’s backup but bad knees have pushed him to be a starter with heavy minutes. The perfect role for Matthews would be to average 15-20 minutes. I had high hopes for Will Barton to be a steal in the second round of the draft last year, but to this point in the season, he has shown he has a lot to learn about the NBA game. Those are the two SG’s on the Blazers at the moment and with that in mind, let’s look at the available SG’s in the 2013 NBA Draft.

 

Ben Mclemore

20 years old, Freshman

6′ 4″ 195lbs

Kansas

 

Shabazz Muhammad

19 years old, Freshman

6′ 6″ 223lbs

UCLA

 

Victor Oladipo SG/SF

20 years old, Junior

6′ 5″ 210lbs

Ohio St.

 

C.J. McCollum PG/SG

21 years old, Senior

6′ 3″ 192lbs

Lehigh

 

Archie Goodwin SG

18 years old, Freshman

6′ 5″ 195lbs

Kentucky

 

B.J. Young PG/SG

19 years old, Sophomore

6′ 3″ 180lbs.

Arkansas

Those are the top SG’s according to Draftexpress.com. If I had my wish, the pick would be very easy and it would be Oladipo. He provides the defense and scoring ability that would pare nicely next to Damien Lillard and Nicolas Batum in the backcourt to form a formidable trio. His current efg% is 65.9% and his TS% is 69.1% which is spectacular. He also averages 6.41 rebounds as a 6;5 shooting guard to go along with 2.19 steals and 3.09 assists. He is a junior but will only turn 21 in May. So not only does he have great experience but he also does not have advanced age. He is hands down, my favorite person in this draft for the Blazers to target. Chances of it happening…25%. He’ll be long gone by 12 and would require a trade to make it happen. I would love for that to happen.