Sunday, December 31, 2006

Back In The Saddle

I'm finally back from my holiday travel so prepare for an epic run of posting through the end of the season. Feel free to skip down to the Season Status/PER check if you want to read Blazers stuff, but I need to have one of my freak outs here for a minute, totally unbasketball related. Alaska Airlines, which I typically love, had a solid F- performance in my travels this week. There was a 5 hour delay on my flight while 4 other flights had no problem making the perilous journey from Oakland to Portland. Ordinarily this type of thing doesn't bother me a whole lot, but Oakland International Airport is a disaster on every level imaginable. That has to be the worst airport on the planet (and yes I know the whole "what do you expect, it's Oakland?" thing applies). There's like 8 gates total, 1 bar with roughly 6 tables and a tiny tv over the bar, and 50,000 people trying to get in there. Bad times, bad times all around. I don't think people appreciate PDX enough, fantastic airport compared to others around the country.

Well, now I feel better. The Blazers sit 13-18, 4th in their division and ahead of only the Hornets, Sonics, and Griz in the West, that Philly loss at home stings. Still, it's hard to call the first two months anything but a success overall. The PER check, and remember 15 is the league average:

The Marcus: 15.37. Somehow he's on Nate's shit list and there doesn't appear to be any reason for it other than some vague comments from time to time. He's the team's best center and he's racking up one DNP-Coach's Decision after another. This vexes me, I'm terribly vexed.

Dan Dickau: 8.75. He's still on the team? I need some verification.

Johnny Dixon: 10.88. I am not a Dixon fan. He shoots too much, misses way too much, is a dreadful passer and defender and he's one of Nate's favorite guys. This upsets me but not as much as the Aldridge Situation (this needs a full post and will get one shortly).

Jarrett Jack: 16.23. I think it's safe for you jersey wearers out there to buy a Jack #1, he's going to be around for a long time. Just a rock solid NBA point guard, looks like a young Chauncey Billups to me.

Raef LaFrentz: Incomplete. We'll see how he progresses, he hasn't played enough to generate a reliable PER. I think he's useful off the bench.

The All Star: 10.38. He's freaking garbage. His last 3 years have been 12.91, 11.16, and now he's at 10.38 and logging heavy minutes off the bench over Aldridge and he's not even close to being as good as Aldridge is right now. Again, there's a long, insult laced tirade coming on this in a day or two, trust me.

Travis Outlaw: 15.39. Far better than I expected, and anyone who said they expected this type of performance is lying through their teeth. Finally starting to show off some of that potential he was drafted with.

Joel Przybilla: 8.75. Everyone loves The Captain, and he's played better lately, but I can't give him a free pass, he's been shitty. Any team actually playing to win or building for the future would have him coming off the bench and starting...forget it.

Z-bo: 26.36. Just an animal this year. He's a no doubt all star this year and if it was based purely off merit he'd be the starting power forward. He's been nothing less than the best power forward in the NBA this year. He obliterated a very good defensive Utah front line last night for 34 and 13 and it didn't even surprise me. He may actually be worth that max contract.

Sergio Rodriguez: 15.28. Can't shoot at all, but a terrific looking passer and ball handler. I don't think we're going to be needing any point guards in the draft or in free agency for a long time. We've got two very good ones, and that's not even counting the next guy on the list...

Brandon Roy: 15.53. The Savior is back in the lineup, but not quite as amazing as he started off the year. That foot/heel/ankle injury is going to bother him all year, but I like the way they've gone about it. Get him in there for an average of about 25-30 minutes a night, don't abuse him, but let him get this first season out of the way, then clean up whatever is going on in there. He's the leader of this franchise already, and with this year of experience under his belt, he should be a force next year, I see a possible playoff team next year with Jack, Roy, Z-bo, and Aldridge leading the way (please, if there's a God, let Durant be the final name in that starting 5).

Ime Udoka: 12.01. It's very hard not to like Udoka, he's basically Ruben Patterson without all the bullshit. He doesn't think he's a star, only shoots when he's open or has an open lane, dives for balls on the floor, plays good defense, etc. I think he might be a Blazer and a fan favorite for the next three to five years. However, he needs to be an energy guy off the bench, the team still lacks a quality small forward.

Martell Webster: 11.38. I'm done with Martell. I've tried to be patient, but this guy just isn't a building block for the future of this franchise, no matter what Subterfuge Stevie says. He sucks. He might be a nice bench sniper at some point in his career but he needs to be traded along with The All Star or Miles' contract before everyone else realizes that he's pretty much useless.

One final note, Ducks 13-0, will probably be 14-0 and facing the #1 UCLA Bruins in The Pit on Saturday. I will be in the fetal position all day. The Pac 10 is a monster this year, I'm not going overboard with the Ducks right now, I think they finish 10-8 in conference, 22-8 overall, and grab a 6 seed in the Big Dance.

Happy New Year everybody, Go Blazers and Go Ducks.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Recap of 12/21 Quick & Patterson Chat

You can get a cheeseburger anywhere; why do you come to Blazersblog? You come to Blazersblog for the attitude, and the atmosphere. And so we can cut through the bullshit. We'll save you the pain of listening to Casey Holdahl's chat with Quick and Patterson (the latter two are great; its the host is unbearable) by getting straight to the good stuff.

Notes from Quick:
  1. Raef LaFrentz will be getting game action this week; he's ready and he's earned it.
  2. Why hasn't LaMarcus been playing? According to McMillan, he hasn't earned it. He's making mistakes on the floor.
  3. Brandon Roy: his heel responded well to playing 23 minutes on Wednesday night (including all of crunch-time, by the way) and he played almost the entire practice on Thursday at the PG position because Jarrett Jack was under the weather. Quick also mentioned that he thinks PG could be Roy's permanent position long-term. We won't go too far into that right now, but file it away.
  4. "What's the deal between you and Bonzi?" -- Every time Bonzi sees Quick, he calls him a female dog, and did it again on Wednesday. "What up, you bitch" is apparently how it's phrased. I wish Quick would respond with something like "hey how'd that contract negotiation go this summer?" but he's too classy.
  5. Why is Magloire playing better? (Note: Holdahl asked this exact same question last week, not sure why we needed to cover it again) Quick essentially repeated his answer, that is has more to do with understanding of role and playing with the second unit.
  6. Pryzbilla played his best game of the season on Wednesday night. He was "awesome" defensively, and he's starting to look to shoot a little. It may only be a few shots per game, but it loosens up the defense a bit.
  7. Quick's take on the AI trade: "I think it makes Denver a better team ... Denver is a formidable team now". Thanks for that.
  8. Blazer MVP so far, aside from Zach? Quick selected Jarrett Jack. He's been solid, he's answered the call, and been better than the team imagined.
  9. How long until Roy is back in the starting lineup? Just a few more games; perhas the NOOCH game.
  10. Will Portland try and keep Ime Udoka beyond this season? Yes, most likely. It's a good fit for both sides.
  11. Preview of the Portland-Toronto game: Curious to see Brandon Roy. Was a little rusty on Wednesday, will be interesting to see what kind of a step forward he takes. Bargnani is fun to watch; he can be good at times and can look lost at times. It's a game Portland should win.
  12. With Roy back, Martell will move to the bench. And speaking of Martell, he's lost that fun, child-like aura, and is quite moody. Oh and by the way, Jason Quick apparently hosts crazy parties every christmas eve. (?)
Notes from Patterson:
  1. Thoughts on AI: Denver will be putting a lot of points on the board, and they've created a window in the next few years where they coudl make a serious run.
  2. What was the first thing that went through your mind when you saw the fight last week? Not the image that the league wants to portray. Felt that the penalties that were handed out were appropriate.
  3. Regarding Zach's foot, what's his status? He's fine, played well on Wednesday night.
  4. What does Brandon Roy bring to the team? Enthusiasm, the fans love him, makes the players around him better, savvy, wants the ball, etc.
  5. Does he keep in touch with players who have moved on past the team? Sometimes yes, sometimes know. Guys he was a part of drafting (sam cassell, jon barry, etc) he keeps in touch with a little bit. Bonzi is not one of those guys.
  6. What's the situatoin with the team's second round picks? The club picked up four additional second round picks over the next couple of years. They've had some calls about the extra pick this upcoming draft because it's expected to be a deep draft.
  7. Tomorrow's game versus Toronto: Roy will play, probably not start, that'll be up to Nate. Toronto has a good young team, looking forward to seeing Bargnani,

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Tier Trauma Volume 3: Updated Rankings

We're coming at you fast and furious today, and up next is a new set of rankings. As you know, around these parts we don't beleive a whole lot in "ranking" teams numerically; we prefer to take the easier (and more accurate, really) way out of grouping them into "tiers" of respectability. How appropriate that our Tiers happen to align with the boxing world during the week when the newest Rocky movie comes out.

We're about 30% of the way through the NBA season and we're starting to get a pretty good idea of how things shake out. First, a reminder of how the tiers work:
Tier 1: Heavyweights. Teams who have a legitimate shot at winning the whole shebang.

Tier 2: Cruiserweights. Not quite ready to be considered in the league's upper echelon, but close and very talented.

Tier 3: Middleweights. Teams are a few steps away from contention, but have enough to challenge for a playoff spot.

Tier 4: Lightweights. Bad teams who don't have a chance.*

*when we say "don't have a chance", that refers to the championship, not the playoffs. The reason for this caveat is that because the Eastern Conference is so weak, there will inevitably be a lightweight team or two who challenges for a playoff spot.
On to the Tiers!


Note: a “+” in front of a team notes that they have been promoted a tier, “-“ signifies a demotion.

Tier 1 - Heavyweights


You all know why the Nuggets get added to this section. Despite last weekend's brawl, I still believe Denver has the potency to compete for a top seed in the West. They'll have Melo back by mid-January, at which point they'll be rolling out a staring five of AI, JR Smith, Melo, Nene, and Marcus Camby, with Boykins, Johnson, Najera and Evans coming off the bench. That's a good ballclub right there, folks. Moving on: I told you all year that Phoenix would get their act together, and I'd say 15 straight wins since our last Tier Trauma rankings pretty much confirms that. I still refuse to include Utah in this group (4-3 in their last seven games and cooling off.)

Tier 2 - Cruiserweights

Palace Gift Cards

Courteous of me to add the Jazz and Lakers to this group, eh? Considering they're both playing over .650 basketball and what-not. Orlando and Chicago both fully deserve to be here, and I won't accept any argument regarding this. Those two teams join Detroit, Cleveland and Indiana as the "5 teams in the East that have a shot to go to the Finals to take an ass whooping from whomever emerges from the West".

Tier 3 - Middleweights


It's well documented on this site that the Blazers are now 1/2 game out of a playoff spot in the loaded, loaded West. We don't want to jinx anything so we'll try not to talk about their 5-game win streak TOO much. Sacramento and Milwuakee both get promoted to Tier 3 this month (I'm sure they're quite thrilled), and I refuse to accept Minnesota as a legitimate playoff threat in the West. Between KG's inevitable head explosion and the letdown of not getting Iverson, they're already done. Look at every team on this list, though, and you'll find yourself nodding: "yep, if a few things break right, they could definitely make the playoffs."

Tier 4 - Lightweights
Tony Allen

I think we're pretty set here with our bottom tier. Every single team on this list is a bad basketball team, and it's disturbing that 30% of the league is legitimately bad. There's a lot of crappy basketball in the NBA right now, which is too bad because there's a lot of fantastic basketball too. I'd argue that the NBA is extremely top-heavy right now, with those 13 Tier 1 and 2 teams owning everyone else. Boston is probably the only team from this mix who has a shot at making the playoffs, which isn't exactly something to brag about in the Eastern Conference. Seattle gets demoted to Tier 4, where they probably should have been from the beginning, and I don't think we'll be seeing a lot of change here.

Enjoy the weekend, everyone. As a side-note, one of your faithful BlazersBlog authors will be attending the Blazer-NOOCH game next week; email us at the link above if you'd like to have a beer and complain about Jamaal Magloire. We had a decent turnout last time.

I Finally Figured Out What I Want For Christmas

(Quick non-basketball related note for the day)

I want all of these people to be rounded up and exterminated.


Ho hum, another night, another Blazer win. That makes 5 in a row, this time over the Houston Rockets, even surviving a monster game by Yao. The win moves the Blazers into third place in the Northwest Division, and .5 game behind the Warriors for the 8th playoff spot in the West. They currently have a higher winning percentage than the Clippers, Kings, and Hornets. That qualifies as a WATFO moment of the year right there. A couple box score musings from the game:

The return of Brandon Roy, 9 points on 4 of 6 shooting, 3 rebounds, 2 assists in 24 minutes and resumed his status as the Go To Guy late in the game. He hit the game winner with 19 seconds to play.

Z-bo, 24 & 13, funny how that's almost reached yawn status. He has to be an All Star this year.

Jarrett Jack, again almost a yawn at this point to see the point guard of this team go for 13 points, 6 assists, 4 boards, and just 1 turnover. I'll have a the whole team's PER check as I do every month next week, but Jack's is up to 16.47 in his first season as a starter in the NBA, with over 30% of his possessions ending with an assist. Outstanding.

That's all for now, and I will be out of town most of the next week so if you don't hear from The Other Guy in that time frame, I'll be back a week from today. Happy Festivus everyone.

Monday, December 18, 2006

1 GB

The Golden State Warriors currently hold the 8th spot in the Western Conference at 12-13. The Blazers are 11-14. That puts the Blazers just 1 game out of the playoffs right now. Warrants mentioning. Some other bits of randomness regarding the Blazers current level of good play, the silver lining version:
  • The 4 game winning streak is the third longest in the NBA behind the Suns and Celtics.
  • They are no longer in last place, looking down on the Sonics by a game.
  • They have 1 more victory than the Miami Heat.
  • They have already won as many road games as all of last year.
  • Their current winning percentage would put them in the playoffs in the East, and would be leading the disaster that is the Atlantic Division.

Let the record show that there were some shenanigans on behalf of The Other Guy which temporarily left me unable to discuss the performance the other night against the Clip (best Blazer performance in years). I think he threw a tantrum over the fact that his professional football team is a non-factor and didn't want to be mocked in this space. Yes, he suffers from Seahawk Blindisitis, luckily it appears to have been cleared up after the moment of clarity last Thursday night. Seahawk Blindisitis is a particularly nasty virus that apparently needs a double dose of the antidote, which was delivered in the form of back to back losses to the Cardinals and 49ers. Me, I knew my team was a non-factor weeks ago, long before they lost to his Seahawks.

UPDATE: Make that 1 game behind Minnesota, the Warriors lost last night and now sit just .5 up on the Blazers. The Blazers sit 10th technically in the West.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Notes From Quick/Patterson Chat

Another session (moderated by Casey Holdahl, who is just brutal) held by O-Live yesterday.

  • Sounds like Portland isn’t involved in the Denver/Philly three-way. The 76ers really want Magloire, but Portland wants nothing to do with Nene (rightfully so).
  • Quick think Magloire’s improved play of late is more a result of becoming accustomed and comfortable with his role than effort.
  • This has cut into LaMarcus Aldridge’s minutes, primarily because he’s having trouble with fouls and struggles a bit versus some of the “bigger” big men on defense.
  • Why is the team playing better lately? Quick mentioned two things: 1. The team coming together more (both off the court and on), and Joel Pryzbilla’s interior defense has played a huge role.
  • Regarding the canning of assistant coach Darnell Valentine: it sent ripples through the team and the players were shocked. He was a guy that a lot of the players could relate to (Martell Webster apparently goes with him to see movies - ?) but the players weren’t happy about it.
  • "Was really pleased with the record" on the road trip (which was 4-2).
  • The Darnell Valentine situation: Didn't want to get into specifics; "any company as economically stressed as we are is going to go through turnarounds ... we'll need to continue to monitor our costs and our levels of employment." He indicated that it was more economic than performance, but wouldn't come right out and say it.
  • Holdahl asked a really stupid question about all-star voting, mentioning the number of forwards who were ahead of Zach in the fan balloting. Patterson rightly pointed out that only the starters are selected by the voting, and the coaches can add him in, which he expects to happen. (Memo to Casey: try and ask intelligent questions to the team's president if you wouldn't mind.)
  • Allen Iverson: are the Blazers involved in any connected deals? "The phones are busy the last few days ... we'll continue to have conversations with folks around the league, as will everyone else."
  • Patterson added a funny note when asked if he had ever been asked by a player to be traded, "You probably remember Ruben Patterson who said it after every single game for about 2 1/2 years here, the problem was that nobody in the league was interested in him. A lot of times, that's what you have to tell these guys."
  • A question asked: "Is it your experience that players over-value their place in the league?". I swear to god, if O-Live doesn't replace this hack then they're in big trouble. Patterson's response was great, though: "Don't we all? That's just human nature."
Also, one other note from today – Brandon Roy will not be making his reappearance tonight after all. Looks like next Wednesday against Houston.

Getting A Few Things Out Of The Way

Corey Maggette
Corey Maggette, the spectacularly underrated small-forward of the LA Clippers, has requested a trade. Portland desperately needs a starting-caliber small forward. What could Portland give up that the Clips could use? I know there’s been some rumors about whether LA has the expiring contracts to get a deal done. Well, what if Portland shipped out Jamaal Magloire, Travis Outlaw, and a draft pick for Maggette and some salary cap fodder. Wouldn’t that help out all parties? I doubt that would be enough to pry Maggette out of Donald Sterling’s greedy little sasauge-like fingers, but I’m just sayin’ that the Blazers should give it a shot. Or perhaps they could be on the back-end of a three-way Iverson deal where they don’t get AI but end up with Maggette.

As my co-author knows, I’m not really in favor of the Blazers making a ton of trades right now; I really do believe they should sit back for a while and let the youngsters develop. But they have an expiring contract to deal and they have one gigantic hole in the rotation, let’s see if we can’t get this done.

Portland's Upcoming Schedule
They surprised us with a cute little three-game win streak; what's up next? They've got the Clippers tonight, followd by Houston, Toronto, @ Phoenix, and The NOOCH, a game which I will be attending. Not an easy stretch, if they can find three wins in there I'll be purely amazed, and two is probably the expectation at this point. If they can beat Toronto IN Toronto when they don't have Zbo or Roy, they should theoretically be able to win in Portland with both of those guys right? Sometimes I wonder why they even play the games.

Throwing Up All Over The Page – Random Thoughts:
Anyone see the game-winner Baron Davis hit last night? … This Warriors team is the second-most fun team in the league to watch, behind the Suns … When the hell is Iverson going to get dealt? … I hope he gets sent to the Western conference, it would be awfully fun to see him in the west playoffs in May … Alright, I’ll just come out and say it, AI is a ballhog, and there aren’t a lot of teams who have room to give up that many shots … More AI stuff; currently he’s the leading vote-getter in the Eastern confernce; what happens if he gets traded to the West? … (I really don’t know, that’s why I’m asking) … You gotta love Paul Pierce, who justified his potential co-existence with AI by saying "I've played with the biggest 'jacker' in league history in Antoine Walker, didn't I?” … I’m pretty sure he’s talking about shot selection there, but hey, these are different times … Dirk Nowitzki has never had a triple-double in an NBA game … Who would you rather have, Marcus Camby and his $8 million cap number, or Ben Wallace and his $15 million?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Yes I Know The Finger, Goose

Look at that, a 4-2 road trip and the boys return 10-14, two games closer to .500. I have to say that I didn't see that one coming. I know they only beat the craptastic Griz, Raptors, and The Answer-less 76ers, but they also beat the Pistons, still more than a formidable bunch. Time to build some momentum, a somewhat struggling Clip team comes in Friday night and then a bunch of days off to rest up and get healthier.

There are a few issues to discuss however, there always are, the first would be Z-bo giving the bird to the opposing fans and getting hit with a whopper of a fine and a 1 game suspension. Luckily the game he missed didn't hurt them and Jarret Jack continued his terrific play, leading them to a win in Toronto. The bigger issue is the $133,000 he had to pony up and needless to say that pissed him off. Lots of guys, Mike Vick, a certain QB in the Mile High City who shall remain nameless because he can rot in hell, and even our own Bonzi Wells lobbed the bird at us one night. These brought about mostly $10,000 and $20,000 fines. Zach, somehow, makes sense bitching about being hit with a fine of 133 large. However, he still didn't take it like a man and simply say "it won't happen again". It's time to grow up Zach, you're playing like you have, off the court, not so much.

This Valentine sacking, while it does seem a bit like a meeting with the Bob's and their corporate downsizing, "I don't see...what it is you do here." Maybe he should have looked at them and said "I have people skills, I TOLD YOU DAMNIT, I'M GOOD WITH PEOPLE!!!" Anyway, again the big issue is how Subterfuge Stevie is just and world class ass head. Nothing like canning a dude the week before Christmas, not to mention flying all the way to Philly, whacking him, and then having him go tell the team about it. Look, if you want to fire someone fine, but at least do it with a little class is all. Of course that's asking a bit too much to ask from SS.

Even with those two unfortunate issues taking place in the last week, it does appear to be getting brighter on the horizon. A winning road trip, the return of Brandon Roy is upon us, hopefully the guys can grab a few more W's and string together a long winning streak. I'm optimistic right now, try not to screw it up.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Return of The Savior

Help is on the way. While the Blazers continue their longest roadie of the year, 3-2 so far, the biggest news took place at the team's practice facility out in Tualatin. Brandon Roy had an extended workout today, including a ton of running, cutting, and shooting. Results were positive, a bit of rust, and his ankle that was in the boot for so long appears to need some strengthening, but if all goes well tomorrow and at practice on Thursday, he'll be back on the court on Friday night against the Clippers. If he needs a little more time, the return is set for next Wednesday night.

The immediate impact is they actually get a quality NBA 2 guard back on the floor. Despite Martell's recent upswing and Dixon's occasional good play, the lack of a shooting guard has really cost them since he went down. Long term, let's just hope his foot is completely healed and he can get back to his rookie of the year campaign.

The most notable loss was his defense of course, but with Jack turning it up a notch, they have the makings of a dynamite backcourt, along with Z-bo and The Marcus up front, it's finally getting exciting around here.

As for the roadie itself, 3-2 heading to Memphis is more than I could have asked for. I know they only beat a dreadful Raptors team and Philly without The Answer, but wins are wins. A win in Memphis is almost probable at this point, 10-14 when Roy returns? I'll take it. The schedule is also a bit light coming up, I'm not saying they'll get back near .500 this season, but let's just say they're going to win a hell of a lot more games than the 21 they won last year.

Just Throwing It Out There

I don't really believe that Portland will be in on any of the Iverson stuff as a third team. But if they were, what would be available, and what would they want?

Looking at the team as currently constructed, the following guys are both a big part of the future and are currently getting PT:

PG - Jack, Rodriguez
SG - Roy
SF - (Webster, Outlaw)
PF - Randolph, Aldridge
C - Pryzbilla

I put Webster and Outlaw in parentheses because we just aren't sure what's up with those two. Are they building blocks? Are they busts? Neither outcome would surprise me.

Items that would likely be available:

Items Portland would want:
-A decent backup center with a short contract
-A SF to fill the gap while they figure out what the futures of Webster and Outlaw look like

So given all of these things, what kind of deals actually work? Here's one three-team trade works under the cap:

To Golden State: Iverson, Dickau
To Philly: Richardson, Ellis, Foyle
To Portland: Mikael Pietrus

The Warriors get Iverson and another PG to fill part of the Monta Ellis gap; Philly gets a dynamic #2 in J-Rich and a very promising young PG in Ellis, and takes on Adonal Foyle's contract. Portland gets rid of a player they don't need while adding a SF who's contract expires at the end of the year.

As said above, I don't really think Portland will be in on any of the Iverson stuff, but if we come up with any more trade possibilities that make sense, we'll post them here.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Friday Afternoon Delight

Without much else to chat about this week, we throw a monkeywrench in my co-author’s six-out-of-the-last-seven-post streak to catch up on a few items both inside and outside of Blazerland.

The Blazers
As much as you can sum up the work of 15 very tall, athletically blessed men over a month and a half in a few short sentences, here it is: They kind of suck right now, but Nate’s got some very promising young pieces playing extremely hard. A couple of specific notes:
  • From the “apparently it’s optimism day” department: Jack, Roy and Aldridge look like the building blocks of a championship team. I’ll just say it. Yes, they’re a few years away; but this is a rebuilding team and I would defy anyone to point to a team with three first-or-second-year players with that much promise. If Portland can keep these three together for several years to come, we’ve got a lot of excitement ahead of us. And we haven’t even started talking about Sergio, Outlaw or Martell yet.
  • I’ve heard some grumblings on email about the contract that Portland gave Joel Pryzbilla this past offseason, and how it could end up being a mistake because of LaMarcus’ play. Let me get this out of the way right now: That contract will not be a hinderance to the Blazers. Shot-blocking big men like Joel are not easy to find, he’s young, and I don’t think Portland would ever have a problem trying to move Pryzbilla if they so desired.
  • And speaking of LaMarcus, what a pleasure he’s turned out to be. As John Hollinger said in his rookie review on today, “This guys is good…once he adds some muscle, he’ll be unstoppable.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.
  • Still hearing anyone complain about Portland taking Aldridge over Morrison? Yeah, me neither. I said at the time I had faith in that pick, and say what you will about Steve Patterson, he looks to have made an incredibly bold and correct decision there.
  • The latest regarding Brandon Roy is that he’s hoping to be back practicing in a week, perhaps playing in 10-14 days. I suppose this is good news, although it feels like every two weeks we hear “two more weeks”, so we shouldn’t get too excited yet.

Western Conference Standings
Don’t look now, but Portland already has the second-worst record in the league 20 games in, and many people consider this season to be going well so far. Shows you far the team has fallen. Outside of Portland, things are looking a little bizarre. Here’s how the seedings would be in the west if the playoffs started today:

1. Utah
2. San Antonio
3. Dallas
4. LA Lakers
5. Houston Rockets
6. Phoenix Suns
7. Denver Nuggets
8. LA Clippers

You have to love the Western Conference. The Hornets have a .530 winning percentage, and aren’t even in the playoffs. (FYI, that would give them the #4 seed in the East). The Southwest division has four teams over .500; the Pacific has three. The Atlantic and Southeast divisions over in the East? A combined one team. Unreal.

Back to the seedings, though. If things hold true – and they won’t, but for argument’s sake – how about that first-round Phoenix-Dallas matchup? And also, who do you think would be favored, the #1-seeded Utah Jazz or the #8-seeded LA Clippers? It’s going to be a very fun year of Western Conference basketball.

Allen Iverson
Maybe you’ve heard the rumor, maybe you haven’t: Allen Iverson apparently walked into Sixers “GM” Billy King’s office on Tuesday night and requested to be traded. That’s interesting, for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that you can bet Philly would much rather send him to the Western Conference than keep him within the Eastern. Iverson’s a score-first point guard; and anyone who has read this blog with any consistency knows how I feel about them. But AI can still get to the rim, he’s durable as all hell, and he fills up the bucket with points. Put him on a team with a good ball-handling distributor with size (which he has never for one season played with in his entire professional career, and no I will not accept Eric Snow as such), and he could be an absolutely deadly force. I imagine Denver will take a look, and don’t count out Minnesota, The Clip, or the Atlanta Hawks. Sounds weird I know.

And finally, I’ll leave you with a random non-basketball related note of the day. Follow along with me here for a moment:
1. Dwight Schrute looks like Ben Gibbard, the lead singer of “Death Cab For Cutie”.
2. Dwight Schrute appeared on HBO’s “Six Feet Under” for a full season.
3. During that same season, a “Death Cab For Cutie” song was featured in an episode, with the entire cast on-screen signing along.


Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Rock City

See, I told you that was an automatic loss going into Detroit to start the 6 game roadie. With a hat tip to The Sports Guy, the lesson, as always, I'm an idiot. I forgot this was the NBA where elite teams mail one in against lower level teams all the time and just figure they'll do enough in the 4th quarter to pull it out. The NBA version of the Milton Berle game. Every once in a while though, that young team doesn't back down and they shock you, like the Blazers stunning 88-85 win in the Palace last night. Some things I thought were nothing short of outstanding:

The Marcus with his first double double in the NBA, 11 points, 11 boards, a HUGE blocked shot on Prince in the 4th quarter. I know Nate is still trying to ease him into the NBA, but he's got to play more than the 24 minutes he played last night. He's a force, particularly on those high pick and rolls. I think it's time to start thinking about the offense that Dunleavy ran with Sabas in the high post. The Marcus in the high post, Z-bo in the low post, Jack with the ball in his hands and players like Roy and Outlaw wheeling off of them, now that's interesting.

Nate had his best game I've seen in a while. He got the total disaster that is Martell Webster (1 for 6 from the floor in 16 minutes of suckage) off the floor early and played Outlaw and Dixon a combined 60 minutes. He subbed in Joel for that last series when you knew they were going to try to get to the basket. And he rotated The Marcus between Sheed and Prince defensively, who he helped contain to a combined 17 points on 7 for 23 from the floor.

Late in the game, Jack high pick and roll with Aldridge or Z-bo, and then when they really, really needed a bucket they got the ball to Z-bo in the low post and cleared out.

Z-bo 31 & 13. The Marcus 11 & 11. Jack 18, 5 assists, 1 turnover against Chauncey Billups. Very nice all around.

Well on their way to that 3-3 trip we were hoping for here in Blazerland. Let's see how they do tonight in the land of PBR.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Dark Times Ahead

This could get ugly. As if losing a game in The Garden to the freaking Atlanta Hawks isn't bad enough, it completed a stellar 0-4 homestand, 3 of them blow outs, and as an added bonus they just played 6 out of 7 at home and went 1-6. Ouch. As a reward for such a tremendous amount of suckage, they now get to go on their longest trip of the year. It's a six game vagabonder that goes from Detroit to Milwaukee to Indianapolis to Toronto to Philly to Memphis, all in 9 days, then they come home to play the Clips next Friday night. Holy crap.

I'm looking for some sort of silver lining, but frankly it's quite difficult. There's one team in the NBA with more losses, the comedy gold mine that is the New York Knickerbockers. I suppose if there was a glimmer of hope it would be that it's all against the Eastern Conference, except for Memphis and they might as well be in the East. Obviously the worst case scenario would be to come home 6-18, let's look at the best case scenario just for fun.

Pistons, 11-6, Lost to the Hawks this year: No. Um...we'll call this one a loss.

Bucks, 6-10, Lost to the Hawks: Yes. Averaging a smooth 104.4 points against. Yes, that's worse than the Blazers. This is one they could win. It should be entertaining at least since the Blazers have no 2 guard so Redd might score 60.

Pacers, 9-9, Lost to the Hawks: Incomplete. They have lost a couple in a row to fall back to .500 but I don't really see how the Blazers get out of there with a win.

Raptors, 7-10, Lost to the Hawks: Yes, twice. They pretty much suck too. They've won 2 in a row to get to 7-10 and their points against are worse than Portland's as well. Possible win.

76ers, 5-11, Lost to the Hawks: No. This is a dreadful team that's lost 4 in a row. Possible win.

Griz, 4-12, Lost to the Hawks: Incomplete. The one team in the West that's legitimately worse than the Blazers. Possible win but it is the end of that jaunt all over the heartland and Canada (someone tell them Canadians don't like it when you bring your glock in the pillowcase on the plane this time). Still, possible win.

So where does that leave them? They could win 4 out of 6, and I'd pretty much be popping some bubbly if that happened. Let's hope for a treading water 3-3 trip and then Brandon Roy would come back to help lead this team out of the ashes.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


You've got to be kidding me. They didn't really have Sergio Rodriguez taking the last shot, he of the awful shooting and on the night was 1 for 2 from the floor (1 for 3 now of course). Surprising...well...nobody he missed a little runner with a second left on the clock so the game was headed to overtime. Or not. I think I saw the in bounds pass alley oop work once in junior high school, but I'm pretty sure I've never seen it work in an NBA game. Added bonus, it was Grant Hill that they let get to the basket for the alley oop game winner. That's completely inexcusable in every way.

I don't really know what the worst part of that sequence was, but it's all awful and we'll just call that Nate's second really awful coaching move of the year. First off, that ball has to be in the hands of Jarrett Jack or Travis Outlaw on the perimeter. A high screen and roll with Aldridge (looking terrific again) would have been fine too. Hell, I could come up with about 20 plays I'd like better than "Sergio takes his guy" and I'm not a professional coach.

Needless to say, bad times, bad times all around last night in the Garden.

Friday, December 01, 2006

ESPN Page 2's Editors Are A Bunch Of Douchebags

As if you weren't already aware.

Wanted to alert you, our faithful 32 readers per day (thats how many unique visitors we're told paruse this part of The Internets) about a little story. In Scoop Jackson's column for ESPN Page 2 (found here), he writes another terrible column. Typically, we'd just ignore it and move on, as per the usual behavior when a Scoop Jackson column shows up. This time, however, something caught our eye: he wrote a first-person story from the perspective of the NBA's new ball, calling himself "Orange Roundie".

One of the better NBA blogs on the net, YAY Sports, has been creatively referring to the ball as Orange Roundie for quite some time now. Scoop stole the reference, used it in his column, and provided no reference for where he got it! What is that?

I'll tell you what that is, it's theft of intellectual property, and it's wrong. ESPN Page 2 has since edited the article to reflect the reference, but it's a bit ridiculous. And perhaps more importantly, he used "Orange Roundie" incorrectly. I let the good folks at YAY explain:
Another point that’s really clawing at us is that Scoop completely misunderstood and bastardized the humor in “Orange Roundie” and the personality of same. You don’t throw that phrase out there without going back to the source and seeing it in context.

And you certainly don’t try to do a lame imitation of someone else’s character. This is like if someone wrote their own Spider-Man comic and gave him bird powers.

Since we’ve got stealing on the mind, allow us to steal from Seinfeld – this portion of the problem doesn’t offend us as the owner of “Orange Roundie”, it offends us as a comedy writer.

Anyhow, Scoop claims that the editors took out his URL reference. Either way, it's terrible. That's about all we've got to say on this topic, but I felt it appropriate to show a little support for one of our fellow NBA Bloggers when the big boys try and step all over us.