Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Blazers' Questions Answered on ESPN Chat

Mark Stein, John Hollinger, and Chad Ford did a 90-minute combo chat today, and a Blazer questions arose:

Paul (Portland, OR): I hate to ask, but what do you see for the Trail Blazers? Other than D.Miles they don't seem to have as many "problem children", but are obviously very young. I read recently that Zach Randolph's knee rehab is going very well. What do you think?

John Hollinger: Yes, the site of Z-Bo taking his mountain bike through the Portland suburbs must be a site to behold. I think the Blazers are still too young to contend for a playoff spot, but they're going to be really good in a couple years if they don't screw things up.

Zbo has been spotted riding his bike through the Portland suburbs? Can any of you expand on this?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

More On Blake

From's John Hollinger (arguably the most underrated hoops journlist on the net):

Mark (The OC): John, Thanks for the good work. With Chad out, it is nice to know that ESPN had Tom Brady waiting the in wings... ...quick question- is Portland attempting to become the West Coast version of the Wizards? With the signing of Blake (or at least the intent to sign him) how will the backcourt minutes be divided? Is there still the thought that Telfair is the future? I know he had a great Summer League, however, with Blake and Dixon on board... Mark

John Hollinger: Thanks, although this comparison unfairly compares Chad to Drew Bledsoe. I'd like to think of it more as Montana handing off to Steve Young ... at any rate, don't worry about Telfair, he's still their guy. Blake isn 't any kind of threat to become a starter, and he'll be battling for scraps with Jarrett Jack as the backup. Dixon seems headed for the off guard spot and could even start if Martell Webster proves unready.

Blazers Sign Steve Blake

The Blazers signed restricted free agent Steve Blake to a contract yesterday, inking their second Washington Wizard. Blake is a "crafty" guard who is a mediocre shooter but knows how to run an offense and is a heady player.

At least, that's his reputation. If you look at his numbers last year (he sprained an ankle and only played in 44 games), he averaged about 15 minutes per game and put up 4.3 points, 2.6 assists, and 1.6 rebounds while shooting 37%. I suppose that I'm okay with this move, because fundamentally you can't count on a 2nd-year man and a rookie to give you 48 minutes of point guard play for an entire season, so you can make the argument that Portland needed another point guard. However, this tells me a couple of things about Portland:

1. They don't have much confidence in Jarret Jack. Fair enough, the kid's a rookie. Still, a bizarre draft pick.
2. They view Juan Dixon as a 2-guard. Between Telfair, Dixon, and Jack, Portland would have been fine at point guard. Between Telfair and Jack, probably not. Hence you can see that Portland isn't envisioning getting a whole lot of minutes out of Dixon at the point, likely due to his need to play shooting guard. I think Webster's showing in summer league (where he frequently looked lost on the court) may have contributed to this.
3. He's an insurance policy for Telfair.
4. All of this is probably moot, because Washington will likely match the contract.

John Nash's comment read "Nate wanted a perimeter threat at the point guard position". One thing we do know about Blake is that he can hit a three. Last season he shot 39% from 3-point. The key is not letting him take any other shots (33% from the field overall, which means when you take out his three pointers -- which were exactly half of his shots -- he put up 27% on non-three-point shots). So if you're looking for a guy to come off the bench, play a little point, and shoot a few threes, fine. If you're looking for anything more than that, you're out of luck.

My apologies for the lack of posts lately ... went on vacation, started a new job, and took a business trip. We'll be back on a regular schedule in October.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Catching Up On Blazer News

We're in the slow part of the NBA offseason. The draft and free agency are over (for the most part, that is unless Scott Padgett joining the Nets tittilates you), the summer leagues are complete, and the teams' individual camps haven't started yet. A chance for all of us to take a breath and focus on other things (the Oregon Ducks winning their first football game, for example). Here's what's going on with the Blazers:
  •'s Chad Ford predicted that Portland will finish 14th out of 15 in the Western Conference this year.
  • Damon Stoudamire has been crying about Portland's upper-management to anyone who will listen in the media. First, it was John Canzano. Then it was Dwight Jaynes. (Did you know, by the way, that Dwight Jaynes is a right-wing conservative who is very open about his Christianity?)
  • Zach Randolph, for the second year in a row, is doing the "Basketball Without Borders Africa" Tour. This is a very cool program that promotes friendship, healthy living, and education, and is targeted to young people. Here is a link with a story about it.
  • Nick Van Exel signed with the Spurs. This is a weird signing that we haven't talked about much on this site. The Spurs are the NBA's version of the New England Patriots, and a big part of their success is due to their team chemistry and the players' understanding of their roles. I get that Gregg Popovic wanted some depth at point guard behind Tony Parker, and some offense off the bench, but Van Exel can be a head case. I got a message from a friend the other day who's a Spurs fan that read: "Spurs + Finley = Championship. Spurs + Finley + Van Exel = 2nd round exit." Hard to argue.
  • Portland's website has a Q&A article with assistant coach Maurice Lucas here.

And one final note: Yes I realize that I led you astray with four of my five recommendations not panning out for last weekend's college football bets. And you thought I was just going to sweep that under the rug? Nonsense my friends. I'm going to make it up to you. Last season I started tracking my football gambling very closely; and I'll be honest with you: I learned that I'm much, much better at identifying profitable NFL lines than I am at college lines. So you shouldn't listen to me when it comes to college football betting. Would have been nice to share that with you prior to the 1-4 week, eh? Well, there you have it. So, following are five NFL games (the lines came out today) that you must bet on during week one. Week One betting lines are frequently as much as seven points off what they'd normally be, and it's the easiest week to make money. Anyhow, with the exception of the Philadelphia game, I wouldn't place these bets yet -- wait until Saturday so you know everything you can about injuries, etc.
  1. Denver -5 @ Miami
  2. Cincinnatti -4 @ Cleveland
  3. Buffalo -5 vs Houston
  4. St. Louis -6 @ San Francisco
  5. Philadelphia -2.5 @ Atlanta

Enjoy the start of the NFL season. In the meantime, once Portland breaks camp we'll take an in-depth look at the roster.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Non-Basketball Related Football Gambling Post of the Week

Since we don't have much Blazer news to talk about, why not discuss gambling? I just know that some of you out there have "the sickness". It's a beautiful thing. With the first big week of college football underway, let's talk about the lines that look good this week.

Hawaii +35 vs USC. Not that I think Hawaii can win this game; I don't, I think USC wins easily. I do however think that Hawaii can put up enough points at home against a team playing its first game after losing their offensive coordinator to keep it closer than 35.

Michigan -19 vs Northern Illinois. Michigan is a terrific team this year and one of my "dark horses" (if you can call a #4 ranked team that) to meet up with USC in the Rose Bowl. Northern Illinois is a mediocre team from a mediocre conference, and this game could get ugly. Love Michigan to cover and then some.

Texas A&M -3 @ Clemson. Have you seen A&M's quarterback Reggie McNeal? The kid is the fastest player on the field, has a cannon arm, and is a big-time playmaker. A&M will surprise some people this year as they have a legitimate chance to win the Big 12 South and I like them to beat Clemson by more than a field goal.

Teaser Bet: Auburn vs Ga Tech and UCLA @ San Diego State. If you tease these two games, the lines drop to Auburn -1 and UCLA -4. Two teriffic lines. A lot of poeople feel that UCLA will be right there in the mix competing for second place in the Pac 10; I like them to win without too much difficulty at SDSU. Auburn, despite losing their top two running backs, is still a loaded team who's got a ton of speed on defense. Getting them at home at only -1 is a solid bet.

We'll keep track of our record throughout the year as a little side-plot while following the Blazers.