My initial reaction to last night's festivities was that the Blazers got taken by teams that clearly knew who they were after. This is still true, but now that the smoke has cleared a little from the official detonation of franchise, let's see where they are.
They drafted LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy, Sergio Rodriguez, an irrelevant Englishman, and acquired Raef LaFrenz. They gave up Telfair, Kryhappa, some money, and Theo Ratliff. You know what, that's a pretty good night. How they got them is not the issue, they basically paid cash for Roy and Rodriguez, and Paul Allen still has a lot of cash. On a side note, I'm still baffled by the fact that one team can call up another team and say "we'll give you money for your first round draft pick". I thought you had to actually trade something in sports, I guess not. Anyway, this leaves the Blazers with a roster that has one glaring issue, what to do with Darius Miles. The current rotation looks something like this:
Starting 5: Jack, Roy, Miles, Randolph, Aldridge.
Key Reserves: Blake, Webster, Outlaw, Skinner, LaFrenz.
That team is going to win a lot more than 21 games. They're worlds better defensively, they've got a 2 guard (despite his Husky-ness, I promise I'll get past this eventually) that is very solid in every aspect of the game. Simply put, he's going to be terrific on the Hollinger PER scale. And they've got a legit center that they can run a number of different offenses through. On the low post he can hit the sky hook, and in the high post he can hit the jumper (and he goes glass a lot, another bonus) or you can run a cutting offense around him from that spot. He'll make Randolph a lot better, when did Z-bo break out, when he was playing off Sabas in the high post offense. The bottom line is they got the two most NBA ready players in the draft, and Aldridge is a likely star. Rodriguez I'm holding off on for now, all the web sites love him, calling him Spanish Chocolate. I'm not big on copycat nicknames, so from here on out he is going to be referred to as Spanish Fly. Sounds like an interesting player, we'll see.
Overall, last night they detonated the roster and with the smoke starting to clear a little bit it's apparent that this is now Kevin Pritchard and Nate McMillan's team. It's also a lot better than it was 24 hours ago. It's still incomplete, no idea what they're going to do with Miles, but the other 4 positions appear to be set for the foreseeable future. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe Webster can play the 3 in the NBA. If he can, my doomsday scenario where I didn't think they'd see .500 again until at least 2010 is going to be way, way off. They may not get there next year, but the future finally has a direction. Draft Grade - B+.