Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now
Blog Entry

Pop Quiz: How good are a healthy Blazers?

Posted on: September 15, 2010 2:06 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2010 2:08 pm
 
Posted by Royce Young

Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell ... The NBA season is right around the corner, and NBA training camp starts in just a few short weeks. To get you ready for the NBA season, we've put together 25 pop quizzes. Pencils ready? We continue our Pop Quizzes with this question...

If the Blazers can get (and stay) healthy, how good can they be?

Pretty darn good. Next question.

(What's that? I need to take 800 or so more words to explain why? OK then.)

Last season's trials for the Blazers are well documented. Greg Oden , Joel Pryzbilla , Rudy Fernandez, Brandon Roy, Nic Batum - they all missed a significant amount of time. That's like, the whole team right there.

Yet they still won 50 games and finished seventh in the West. When you start looking at old box scores from last season and some of the lineups Portland played 20, 25 and even 30 minutes a night with, it really shows you what a remarkable job Nate McMillan did last season holding it all together.

Now imagine them all healthy, all clicking for a full 82. I realize that's basically impossible to picture because, you know, Greg Oden is on the team, but humor me.

Pryzbilla may be out until December, but assuming he comes back fully healthy, Portland's front line is as stout as they come. Oden , Pryzbilla , LaMarcus Aldridge and Marcus Camby for a four-man rotation on the blocks.

The addition of Wesley Matthews is no small thing, especially with the whole Rudy Fernandez situation flapping out in the wind. If anything, Matthews makes Fernandez somewhat dispensable. Brandon Roy now has a capable scorer to stand with him on the wing, plus Matthews is a nice wing defender.

Andre Miller looked re-energized last season when he had to carry the load for Portland, Jerryd Bayless has his moments and they have a bonafide stopper in Nic Batum . Rookies Luke Babbitt and Eliot Williams a nice adds, though they may not get a ton of time, unless, well, last season happens again. But this time, Portland's at least got a little more depth and it might not have to scramble to sign Juwan Howard's 65-year-old body.

The window in Northwest is still wide open. The Thunder might enter the season as the favorites for the division, but they're young and some feel might be setting up for a bit of a disappointment. Hey, it's what happened to Portland last season.

Then of course Denver could be transitioning without Carmelo Anthony, Utah has some questions and then there's Minnesota.

Winning over 50 isn't out of the question. Heck, it's probably a strong possibility.

Don't underestimate the value of a healthy Oden for a full season. Portland hasn't yet had a chance to experience that. Before he went down last year, the Blazers were 13-8 and were only giving up 90.7 points per game. After Oden was hurt, the Blazers gave up 96.2 the remaining 61 games. His defensive impact is definitely important.

Plus, this team is still young. The average age is under 25, even with old dogs like Miller and Camby on the roster. For the most part, the Blazers are a rising, building unit. Two years ago, they were the youthful darlings before Oklahoma City stole their thunder (I realize that was terrible), but the reality is, this team isn't filled out yet. Windows in the West don't stay open for long, but it's still open for Portland.

The best part of last season was there wasn't any crying. There wasn't any whining. The excuses were there and this team still won 50 games and made it into the postseason. In terms of character and willpower, that says something. At least to me.

Injuries happen. It's life in professional sports. But not every year do you see five or six significant injuries that cause starters to miss multiple games. That's what Portland went through last season.

If this team is healthy for a full 82, are they legit contenders? Possibly. Outside of one team at the top, the West's door is open. The talent is certainly on the roster and they've proven they can win. Injuries make for an easy excuse a lot of times, but sometimes it's just real.

The Blazers at full tilt for an entire season? Yep, I'd say they're pretty good.
Comments

Since: Sep 16, 2010
Posted on: September 16, 2010 7:00 pm
 

Pop Quiz: How good are a healthy Blazers?

ps, if you adjust Oden's stats from 22 to 27 minutes, he is closer to 12 and 9. so nyah.



Since: Sep 16, 2010
Posted on: September 16, 2010 6:57 pm
 

Pop Quiz: How good are a healthy Blazers?

Twocoach, there are some flaws in your logic. 
First, the common myth holds that Bowie was a colossal bust, when that isn't really true. As you have shown yourself, his career averages are respectable. It's only when viewed in the light of what could have been (Jordan a Blazer) that he looks like such a mistake. In fact, Bowie was serviceable enough to 'net' us 3x All-Star Buck Williams in a trade. 
Second, Oden's averages come from about 22 minutes per game, while Bowie averaged more than 27 mpg. Although Oden's averages are lower, he has played extremely efficiently when on the court, especially during the stretch before he went down last season. While Bowie's PER topped out at 16.4 with a career average of 14.6, Greg's PER rose last season from 18.1 to 23.1, with a career average of 19.5 PER. That career average (assuming he had enough minutes played to rank) would place Greg as the 26th most efficient player currently active in the NBA. If we were to go solely off his 23.1 from 09-10 (I know, you can't really do this, but I'm using it to make a point), only 7 active players rank higher: Lebron James, Shaquille O'Neal, Dwayne Wade, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, and Kobe Bryant. To put this in perspective, Brandon Roy's highest PER (08-09) was 24, but his career average is 20.9, just slightly above Greg's 19.5 from last season. 



Since: Jan 17, 2008
Posted on: September 16, 2010 10:02 am
 

Pop Quiz: How good are a healthy Blazers?

So long as Greg Oden is on the roster, we will never know the answer to that question. I said it when he was comuing out of college and I will say it again. This guy will never play 80 games in an NBA season. He has had too much damage at too early an age for a big man to overcome. The body simply isn't meant to be seven feet tall.

Picking Oden over Durant rivals Bowie over Jordan. Heck, Bowie has better NBA career averages than Oden.

Bowie: 10.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1.78 bpg
Oden:   9.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.40 bpg

Wow. 



Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: September 16, 2010 2:14 am
 

Perhaps good enough to prevail - or are they?

These are all valid points for expecting Portland to be much better. And there are more - a major weakness for Portland the last two years has been perimeter defense. Nicolas Batum is very good and getting better. Adding Wesley Matthews improves that picture double. Matthews did an excellent job guarding both Carmello Anthony and Kobe Bryant in the playoffs last year. Add that Oden, Pryzbilla and Camby (former NBA Defensive Player of the Year) are all accomplished shot blockers and excellent weak-side help defenders and the Blazers might make it very difficult for opponents to score.

Another factor often overlooked is coaching. Nate McMillan is one of the best. He teaches and insists on seeing sound fundamentals. He specializes in defense, serving in that capacity for the USA Men's Team 2006 - present including Olympic Gold Medal and World Champions. Both of those teams won (according to the players and the media) with defense. And those players returned to the NBA the following year with a renewed emphasis on their personal defense. Nate was their teacher and their leader on defense. Nate's offensive systems are also special as the Blazers were 1st in the NBA two years ago in offensive rating (basketball-reference.com).

Greg Oden has the physical tools to dominate in the West (and the East as well except for Dwight Howard). He has a very strong work ethic as well. Greg was eighth best in the NBA last year in PER (an established player efficiency rating) among players averaging 20 minutes per game. Oden led the league in block% last year by a significant margin.  Brandon Roy is one of the top three players in the West in crunch time and offensive win shares. Really good depth (when not filling the infirmary) allows Portland to play intense all-out basketball. Winners of 54 games two years ago and 50 games last year (with 311 player games lost to injury). Adding Andre Miller, Marcus Camby, and Wesley Matthews to that 54 win team with additional years of experience for the core provides perhaps the best talent pool in the West.

But there is still a weakness. The Blazers do not have a single player who has played beyond the first round of the playoffs except Marcus Camby (and that was 11 years ago) and Wesley Matthews (10 games as a rookie last year). They appear to be ready to take that next step but probably still do not have the veteran chops to threaten the Lakers. Utah, Denver, San Antonio, Dallas, Phoenix all have that experience. We all know talent only gets you into the game while expereince wins it. Even so this may be a team knocking on the door and not one of the afore-mentioned teams likely wants to face them in the playoffs.




Since: Jul 27, 2010
Posted on: September 15, 2010 10:37 pm
 

Pop Quiz: How good are a healthy Blazers?

If Greg Oden play with some effectivness then the Blazers could be really strong down low. Camby and Aldridge are studs and Pryzbilla is about as perfect of a back-up center as a team could ever want. There's depth now with rookie Luke Babbit and they can even play small with Batum down low against certain teams as well. The Blazers, IF HEALTHY, as stated in the articly could seriously play with the Lakers in a seven game serries. hahaha or maybe not lol


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com