What have we learned about the Blazers after three games? Here are my quick thoughts. Again, this has only been three games so these are preliminary thoughts:
- Darius Miles has stepped up his game. We all knew he had the talent, and he seems to now have a desire to take a leadership role. Granted, it's early November and we could be talking about what a jerk he's reverted to in a month, but he has clearly been the leader of the team. Without his 20, 8, and 4, Portland would be completely lost on offense.
- Sergei Monia looks much better (granted in limited action and granted against a very crummy Atlanta team) than I thought he would. As far as I can tell, he should be the defacto starter until proven otherwise. He's got a nice jumper, decent size, passes the ball, and runs the court well. Now about that defense...
- Stop Shooting Juan Dixon (I hear that's officially part of his name these days) looks awful. The man is a black hole. Once the ball gets passed his way, it's going up, and it's probably bouncing off the rim. So far I haven't found much that he's adding to the team, and for the record, he's got the second-worst +/- statistics of the club's regulars.
- Chaz Smith looks very blah, which is about what we expected. I can see him having the skills to be a 10-15 minute per game player off of the bench, but he doesn't appear to have the talent or court presence to be a starting 2-guard in the NBA.
- Jarrett Jack has been a nice surprise. His +/- numbers don't look good, but he's got a very nice presence with the ball and a decent looking jump shot. It appears that he'll be able to fill holes at both PG and SG this year as well.
- Travis Outlaw's playing time has been sporadic and much smaller than we anticipated. Given Outlaw's emergence last year, I expected him to get at least 25 mpg and fill up the bucket with plenty of points; he's only made it into one game for 10 minutes. What gives?
- Theo Ratliff looks terrible. He's clearly lost most of his skills and is starting to look like a terrible contract extension signing.
What do you think? Email me your thoughts and I'll post them here. And as for the Blazers-Knicks trade rumors floating around, I don't buy into them. Reason being, the Knicks will want Miles in any deal, and Darius Miles has clearly shown himself to be the key to Portland's offense this season, and I don't believe the club will trade him. At least not yet.