What happened last night? I had to leave at halftime. The Blazers were up 10 when the horn sounded for halftime and when I got back home, they had lost by 10. That’s an impressive trouncing by 20 in the 2nd half. Good job guys! Strengthen that positioning on the 12th pick (and if we’re super lucky, pick 1-3, there is a 2.5% chance – better than one in a million!).
The team answered my questions from yesterday with a resounding “12th pick please!” From ‘So you’re saying there’s a chance’ to ‘Nope’ in about the first 3 minutes of game time. The front court really came to play last night. They allowed Reggie Evans to go OFFFFFFF! with 22 points, 26 Rebounds (12 offensive) on 9 of 13 shooting. It was basically the most pathetic showing on the glass that I have witnessed in a long time.
I have been seeing some maturation and comfortableness with Leonard’s game the past month but last night against Evans he wilted. He flailed each time he got pushed or popped as if he was looking for a whistle that clearly was not going to come. The Heat/Bulls game was on before this abomination and in it LeBron James got smacked in the face hard on his way to the hoop by Gibson and Boozer. After his free throws and back on defense, Boozer runs up to his left shoulder to set a screen. Lebron glances over to the oncoming Boozer, dips his shoulder and just rams right in to Boozers chest. That is what I want to see from Leonard. Get pushed or smacked, smack and push back. Stop with the flopping and flailing. It puts him out of position and he will just continue to get abused by both opponents and the refs.
The game didn’t turn on Leonard’s play but it was just one example of what was endemic of the team’s effort last night. They were slow to rotate, slow to defensive rebounding positions, slow to move the ball on offense, slow at everything. There are 11 games to go; I hope I don’t see that pathetic effort again.
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.
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.
20 years old, Freshman
6′ 4″ 195lbs
19 years old, Freshman
6′ 6″ 223lbs
Victor Oladipo SG/SF
20 years old, Junior
6′ 5″ 210lbs
C.J. McCollum PG/SG
21 years old, Senior
6′ 3″ 192lbs
Archie Goodwin SG
18 years old, Freshman
6′ 5″ 195lbs
B.J. Young PG/SG
19 years old, Sophomore
6′ 3″ 180lbs.
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.