We've got 8 days until the first regular season game, and what better way to kick off the NBA Preseason than a reader email? I received this from loyal reader and official correspondent "Dr. Michael Mancini" today:
Some serious answers to the big questions were given last night. Nate played his regular season rotation and the team apparently looked pretty solid. People panic early in this town, I’m as guilty as anyone, but this might be reason to be less worried than I was. The starting line up was as predicted, Telfair, Chaz, Miles, Z-bo, and Joel. Z-bo is not going to be playing 40 a night for a while, probably in the 25-28 range so Reuben is getting a lot of time there and the focal point of the offense is Miles. Get him the ball in the low post, 1 on 1 situations, or in transition with Telfair running the break. This isn’t a major surprise, the surprise comes with
the bench rotation. Jarrett Jack and Juan Dixon are the backup guards and Jack a lot of the time looks better suited to the NBA game than Telfair at the point. My theory is that Nate’s going to play the hot hand between Dixon and Webster, but the second team is pretty clearly Jack, Dixon, Outlaw, Reuben, and Theo. The Foreign Legion is a non-factor and Webster will obviously see a little action but that’s still a little unclear outside of my own personal theories. Bottom line, the sky is not falling, they aren’t going to go 10-72, relax and take a deep breath.
A couple of thoughts on this. First of all, if I'm reading this correctly, it appears that our playing rotation is looking something like this:
PG: Sebastian Telfair, Jarret Jack
SG: Charles Smith, Juan Dixon
SF: Darius Miles, Travis Outlaw
PF: Zach Randolph, Ruben Patterson
C: Joel Pryzbilla, Theo Ratliff
Other roster members: Ha-Seung Jin, Sergei Monya, Victor Khryapa, Steve Blake, Martell Webster
Secondly, I'd speculated after the draft and once we saw the lack of trades that the Russian Mafia, Martell Webster, and Steve Blake would all be seeing plenty of "DNP"'s this season and that appears to be the case. By mentioning "Chaz", I'm assuming that Dr. Mike is referring to Charles Smith. I like it; let's go with it for now. Given that we've already got a small point guard, Portland can't start Juan Dixon at shooting guard or they'd have an impossibly small starting backcourt -- and we all saw how well that worked out last year, with our Tiny Tandeom of Damon/NVE. Which means the options for this season boil down to either Chaz or our dear friend Martell Webster. If there's one thing I learned from the three NBA Summer League games I was able to watch, it's that Webster isn't ready yet for consistent playing time; let alone a starting gig. So while he may grow into it this season, I don't think we should count on seeing a whole lot of Webster on the floor for Portland; at least for the first 20 games or so.
Thirdly, I'm still worried about our backup PF. Ruben's a nice bench player. He doesn't execute terribly well but he does provide energy, hustle, and spark to the team off of the bench ... but he does that from the wing and on the break; not on the post. If Zbo truly will only be playing 25-28 minutes per game, we're going to have a big, gaping hole in the post when he's out of the game. Hopefully Theo Ratliff will be able to step in and play some significant minutes, which he hasn't been able to do in a year and a half.
More info coming tomorrow. In the meantime, a bit of site news:
- We'll be sending in a full roster evaluation and Western Conference review/prediction column out before the first games; stay tuned for that over the weekend.
- Due to the spammers hitting up my message boards (if any of you need a home loan apparently this has become the place to advertise), until I figure out how to stop them I'll have to shut off the readers' ability to post messages. My apologies on that. In the meantime, please email me at email@example.com and I promise to post as much reader interaction as possible.