Monday, April 30, 2007

Catching Up On The Warriors

As many of you know, the Warriors have been my adopted step-team this year, what with Portland in the midst of their re-build. Why the Warriors? Simple: they’re fun to watch, and I live in the Bay Area.

Easy enough. I’ve always felt that you were not committing sports bigamy if you were rooting for a team from the city in which you live, and as long as you still kept your primary team as team #1 at all times. It’s one of two ways you can get away with rooting for a second team (the other being if you have a particular affinity for a certain player due to his previous performance either with your alma mater or your primary team.)

Regarding the Warriors, they’ve been making the Mavs look awfully bad this week. They’re on the brink of being the first #8 seed to upset a #1 seed in a seven-game series. A friend and I were discussing today whether the Mavericks really were that good during the regular season, or if their 67 wins was overachieving.

I really do think Dallas is that good, and if they somehow escape this series, look out. With Dirk doing his outside-in thing, Terry and Harris flying all around the court, Stackhouse (who kept them in the game last night by the way) hitting jumpers and grabbing rebounds and getting to the line like a cokehead, Josh Howard doing everything, and Diop and Dampier taking turns as the shotblocking /rebounding center, they are a pretty unstoppable team with a multitude of weapons. It just seems to me like the Warriors are a mismatch for them, for several reasons.

1. Baron Davis has been the best player on the floor. He’s having one of those epic series that star players are capable of having. My question: why aren’t the Mavs double-teaming him? So you leave a guy like Biedrins or Pietrus open on the perimeter. Isn’t that better than letting Baron go off?

2. The Warriors have dictated the pace of almost every single game. I cannot stress this enough. The funny thing is that the first half of game 4 was probably the best that we’ve seen Dallas get back on defense; but the problem is that the guys who can get back — Harris, Terry — are too small and get pushed around or muscled away from the hoop. The Mavs have more talent on offense and I don’t see why they’re not walking the ball up and slowing the game down. If I were Avery Johnson, I’d be giving Erick Dampier more playing time and I’d be feeding the ball in to him and Josh Howard on the post. Say what you will about Dampier, he’s bigger than anyone in the Warriors’ rotation by three inches and he has a few low-post moves. And his hacking ways won’t be quite as exposed since the W’s rarely run any post-up offense. As good a shotblocker as Diop is, Dampier should be getting a little more burn than he is now. At least give it a try, because with the W’s locking down Dirk and Howard, something has got to give. The most success that Dallas had on defense was the first two games, when Howard was guarding J-Rich.

3. Davis and Jason Richardson are both such big guards that Devin Harris and Jason Terry can't ever play together. As mentioned, they get pushed around and outmuscled. And the Warrior big men are quick enough to help out, even on players as fast as Terry and Harris.

4. The W's are fast enough at every single position that they can double team Dirk, and they still have the quicks to either get back and help, or stay in front of the mavs' quick guards 1-on-1 (whiich most teams can't do).

5. The Mavs don't have a single player who's best offensive game is back-to-the-basket, which is what kills the W's the most. This plays right into golden state's defensive strength, which is perimeter defense.

6. ...which is probably why Al Harrington is having such a piss-poor series. He’s not shooting at all, can’t seem to get into the flow of the game, and his face-up post D isn’t really helping out here. If he struggles in the first half on Tuesday night I wouldn't be surprised if he rides pine for the entire second half.

7. The W's have so many athletic 6-6 - 6-9 type guys (Stephen Jackson, Pietrus, normally Harrington, Matt Barnes, Richardson) that they match up perfectly with Dallas' two best scorers, Nowtizki and Howard. I'm actually surprised that Dallas isn't feeding Howard the ball more in the mid-range on the opposite side of nowitzki so he can either put one up or back his man in and then dish or make a post move. The way that Golden State is swarming around Dirk, it seems like the Mavs should be running more of their offense through Josh Howard.

8. Speaking of Matt Barnes, I think he’s been a key to the Warriors this series. He’s one of few guys on their team who likes to bang around, he can shoot the three, and he’s a relentless rebounder. I hated Matt Barnes when he played for UCLA and used to kill the Ducks, but he’s a perfect fit for this Warrior team and frankly, I enjoy watching him play.

9. Is it possible that the Mavs’ style of play simply fits in to the regular season more than the playoffs? It IS a different style of game in the playoffs, I don’t care what anybody says. And the Mavs have lost seven of their last 8 playoff games. However, that doesn’t necessarily apply here. Typically in an NBA, the playoffs turn the game into a slower-moving, half-court game; and anyone who’s seen the Warriors play know that they run the ball about as much as Phoenix does. So the style of play in this series doesn’t fit the stereotypical playoff style that would benefit, say, a San Antonio or a Houston.

It goes without saying that the Warriors have been a step ahead of Dallas for the entire series, and it’s a bit scary that they’re doing it all without getting any kind of contribution from Al Harrington or Monta Ellis, two of their top-five players during the series. Granted, the Mavs aren’t getting a whole lot from Jason Terry. Thing is, the Warriors aren’t deep enough to be able to withstand long stretches of bad play by multiple players, and Don Nelson flat out said last night that if Harrington and Ellis don’t start getting it going, he might cut his rotation down from 8 guys to 6. Golden State might be able to do that for a half of a game, but certainly not throughout all of games 5 and 6.

Game 5 is Tuesday night at 6:30 and Game 6 is Thursday night at 6:30. There are a lot of folks out there who think that if Golden State allows this to get back to 7 games, they’re sunk. I don’t quite agree with that, but I do think Game 5 will be an all-out war. I was a bit scared that last night had blowout potential, after what the Warriors did to the Mavs in game 3, but they were able to withstand Dallas’ big run in the first quarter, and never let the game get away. It will be interesting to see if Avery experiments with a big lineup in Dallas on Tuesday night. I hope you’re enjoying this series because it’s been a blast so far, and I only expect it to get better.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Season PER Review

The season is in the books, 32-50, tied for 12th in the West, and picking 6th in the NBA Draft unless they get extremely lucky. We'll have a lot of stuff on the upcoming off season, as you might expect, but after our monthly PER reports it seems like a good time to reflect back on the entire roster from a PER standpoint. As always, 15 is the league average, and we go in alphabetical order:

LaMarcus Aldridge: 17.17. Despite his late season injury, if we can call it an injury, to his heart, he had a great season for a rookie big man. It sounds like they've got his heart problems under control, so going forward it's safe to assume that he will be a starting front court player for the Blazers for the foreseeable future. Whether that's at the 4 or the 5 remains to be determined. Depends on a number of moves that could be made this off season, which is really true of everyone.

Dan Dickau: 12.16. Stinks, should be no surprise, and it infuriated me that he'd play a good game every now and then and Nate would fall in love with him and play him 15-20 a night for a couple weeks at a time. He should not have taken as many minutes away from Sergio as he did.

Jarrett Jack: 14.62. In the end, he was slightly below average in his first year as a starting point guard in the league. I like his defense, I like him in general actually, seems to be a very steady player that doesn't need to score to be happy running the point. I think you can win with Jack as your starting point guard, but I also think you can do better.

Freddy Jones: 10.05. He's a Duck, one of my all time favorites, we've established this, but he was pretty much rubbish in a Blazer uniform. A couple nice dunks every now and then, and one meaningless point explosion late in the year, but they're going to need more from him out of the backup 2 spot next year if they're going to make the playoffs. Roy can't play 48 a night, Freddy is going to need 10-15 good minutes a game.

Raef LaFrentz: 8.66. I guess the only good thing about Raef is that his contract was the price we had to pay to get Brandon Roy in the draft day trade with the Celtics.

The All Star: 11.48. Amazing how a few good games late in the year after their fate was sealed could fool people into thinking he was a valuable player. It did push his PER up to double digits, but for the majority of the season he was just a steaming pile out there. Turnovers like crazy, thinks he's Lew Alcindor with his post moves, although I do enjoy the random hook shots that would hit nothing but glass, those were fun. Overall, he'd be a nice big body to throw his weight around coming off the bench. He's a nice rebounder. See, I said something nice about him.

Travis Outlaw: 15.26. Travis took a big leap forward in his all around play this year, but I think the Blazers need to be careful here. If someone offers him a multi year deal worth the full mid-level they should probably walk away. He'd also be a nice sign and trade contract piece for the Blazers to acquire another asset. I don't think he's an impact player long term, a nice bench player that's versatile, but that gets overpaid for from time to time. If the Blazers draft in the 6 spot and take Corey Brewer, they should let him walk.

Joel: 7.43. Let's just call it a wasted year. He's our backup center who can certainly start if need be next season. Get healthy Joel, we still like you here in Portland.

Z-bo: 22.81 (highest on the team). I addressed his spot in the Blazers Big Gamble post earlier, I think they should explore trading him and selling high. I appreciate what he did this year, he worked hard, played his ass off every night, but the Blazers don't really need his scoring anymore. They really don't need him demanding the ball every time down the floor anymore and getting in the way of the high pick and rolls. Lottery Night becomes a big night for Z-bo, if the Blazers by some chance win the Lottery, he's as good as gone with Oden and Aldridge in the front court going forward. Much more on Z-bo to come in the off season.

Sergio Rodriguez: 14.17. I didn't see this one coming. To be fair, the Moderator of this board did see it in Sergio. He's my kind of point guard, run the floor, sees passing lanes that nobody else sees, whips passes around like crazy, and is ALWAYS looking for someone else's shot and not his. As a bonus, even with the crazy passing and tempo pushing, he doesn't turn the ball over. The most telling stat is that 40% of his possessions ended with an assist. That's Steve Nash territory.

Brandon Roy: 18.8. Our savior. More on him to come when he's rightfully announced as the 2007/08 Rookie of the Year. Make no mistake about it, Portland is now Brandon Roy's town.

Ime Udoka: 12.09. This is similar to the Outlaw situation, don't get crazy with his contract. I like his defensive game and his ability to knock down open 3 pointers, which will be key next year when they're making a playoff run and people are collapsing on Roy, Jack, and Sergio on their way to the basket. However, he's a backup small forward and glue guy, that's replaceable, and the Blazer front office needs to keep this in mind. If the Blazers get Brewer and can choose between Udoka and Outlaw as the primary backup, I'd keep Udoka.

Martell Webster: 10.02. I'd trade him for a few extra racks of balls and some new outfits for the Blazer Dancers. When your lone skill is shooting and you can't shoot, well, I think it's time to call that one a bust.

As you can see, only Brandon Roy, Z-bo, and Aldridge were above average on the season, with Jack, Outlaw, and Sergio being roughly average. Clearly they're a player or two away from being a playoff team, but this off season is the time to strike. They've turned the corner, which is all i was really after this year in the first place.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Where Will Portland Draft? The Final Answer

Before we get to Portland, let's review the two big stories from yesterday's NBA action.

It's Cold In Chicago

A bad, bad night for Bulls yesterday. Not only did they lose to New Jersey and drop themselves from a #2 seed and a piece-of-cake first round home matchup with Washington, followed by a probable second-round matchup with Toronto; now they're a #5 seed who has to go to Miami in the first round and Detroit in the second. Eeesh. And just to pile on, the Knicks -- who's first round pick Chicago will be getting in this year's draft thanks to the Eddy Curry trade -- won their game on a last-second Eddy Curry tip in and moved from a potential #6 pick back to the #9-10 range. Ouch.

Party Time in The Bay Area

The Golden State Warriors are in the playoffs for the first time since 1994. They're a very fun team to watch; very much a poor-man's -- okay, a homeless man's -- version of the Phoenix Suns. They're fast as hell, they push the ball, and they can shoot. The first-round matchup against Dallas would be a nightmare for most teams but Golden State is one of few teams who can keep up with them. The Warriors have won their last 5 consecutive games against Dallas dating back to last season, and though I don't think they'll the series, it will be an entertaining one. Congrats to a talented team who deserves to be there.

And Finally ...

The end of season standings. As you'll recall from yesterday, here's where we stood:

11: Philly, 34-47
10, 9: Sacramento & Charlotte, 33-48
8, 7, 6: New York, Minnesota & Portland, 32-49
5: Seattle, 31-50

Philly won. Sacramento and Charlotte lost. New York won, and Minnesota and Portland lost. Seattle also lost. Leaving us with a final standings of:
5. Seattle, 31-51

6. Portland, 32-50
6(t). Minnesota, 32-50

8. New York, 33-49 (This is actually Chicago because of the Curry trade)
8(t). Sacramento, 33-49
8 (t). Charlotte, 33-49

11. Philly, 35-47
11(t). Indiana, 35-47

So, as you can see, Portland will very likely either be drafting in the #6 or #7 spot. That could change, though. Obviously if Portland wins the lottery, they could get a top-3 spot which is not very likely. The flip-side of that is if a team behind Portland wins the lottery and snags a top-3 spot, the Blazers could potentially get pushed back.

Neither of those are very likely to happen, so let's assume Portland is in the #6 or #7 spot. Fortunately for us, the draft is CHOCK full of small forwards and centers who would all be good value picks in that range. Players that would both be a good fit and are likely to be drafted in that range include:
  • Al Horford
  • Yi Jianlian
  • Jeff Green
  • Corey Brewer
  • Roy Hibbert
  • Julian Wright
  • Joakim Noah

Assuming Portland keeps their pick, it's nearly a lock that they end up with one of those guys. Between having a good pick in a loaded draft, and our new GM, it will be a fun offseason for the Blazers.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Where Will Portland Draft: An Update

When last we spoke, our heroes in black and red held the #6 spot, with a slight chance to move up to #5 and a whole pack of teams nipping at their heels.  How have things changed in the five days hence?

You may recall that after projecting each of the team’s remaining games last week, we had estimated that Portland would finish with a 32-50 record and remain in the #6 position.  

Since then, Portland has dropped a pair of tough games against two teams fighting to either make the playoffs or solidify their seed in the Clippers and Jazz, and beaten Seattle, as expected.  With one game remaining, the club cannot do “better” than fifth and cannot do “worse” than 10th, so we’ve narrowed it down a bit from the “4-11” framework defined last week.  (This is a supposing that Portland does not win the lottery, of course.)  The absolute worst that Portland could do is beat the Warriors in their last game, have the Knicks lose to Charlotte, Minnesota lose to Memphis, and end up in a three-way tie for the 8th – 10th spot.   The best case scenario includes Portland losing to Golden State, and the Knicks, Sonics and Wolves winning, leaving Portland in a tie with Seattle for fifth.

More likely, however, is that Portland gets beaten by the Warriors – who must win to ensure a playoff spot, the franchise’s first in thirteen years — and one of the Knicks and Twolves win, coupled with a Seattle loss, leaving the Blazers in a two-way tie for sixth and seventh.  

Which is fine.  I’m not worried about a “sixth or seventh” scenario; what I’m concerned about is Portland ending in a massive four- or  five-team tie for a spot and ending up on the losing end of that proposition.

Let’s take a closer look.  Updated reverse standings, with record, remaining games and a note.

11. Philadelphia, 34-47.  Remaining: @Tor.  Philly made the mistake of capturing an upset win this week, assuring themselves of no better than a #9 finish.  We need not concern oursevles with Philly any longer as they are so great a team, no combination of wins/losses could equal our roster with Philly’s mighty collection of talent.

10. Sacramento, 33-48  
Remaining: vs LAL.  I believe the Kings will lose their final game, as the Lakers are still trying to hold on to the #7 playoff seed; which means that Portland must lose to stay away from Sacramento.  It’s conceivable that LA could finish 8th so they must win this game to get away from that deadly first-round Dallas matchup.

Charlotte, 33-48.  Remaining: vs NY.  This last game is a biggie in terms of final standings, and tips off at 4:00pm pst tonight.  It would be best for Portland if New York won the game, so root for the Knicks.  

6,7,8. New York, 32-49
 Remaining: @Cha.  See above.  We need New York to get out of our 32-win hair, so “let’s go Knicks!” tonight.  (Note: they’re 10.5 point underdogs.)  That game will be over by the time Portland tips off.

6,7,8. Portland, 32-49.  
Remaining: vs GS.  Really tough to see Portland winning this game.  Golden (shower) State is gunning for the franchise’s first playoff appearance since I was a sophomore in high school to end the league’s longest playoff drought.  In addition, it goes without saying that I have a wager with a fellow author of this site on whether GS would make the playoffs this year, so there’s a bit of personal skin in this game.  As mentioned before, I would never “root” for Portland to lose...but I would like to see some of those bench guys get some big minutes.  Fair enough.

6,7,8. Minnesota, 32-49.  
Remaining: @Mem.  Another game to keep an eye on tonight.  Go Timberwolves!  This one tips off at 5:00 pst, so they’ll be done around the time we’re wrapping up the first quarter tonight.

5. Seattle, 31-50.  
Remaining: vs Dal.  Go Sonics!  If they win, it’s possible Portland could tie for fifth and gain an extra ping-pong ball or two.  

In case you’re still confused, here’s a quick summary:

Tonight: Root for Seattle, New York, and Minnesota.  

Best case: Portland ends up tied for the fifth/sixth worst record.

Worst case: Portland ends up tied for the eighth/ninth/tenth worst record.

Most likely scenario:

5. Seattle, 31-51
6-7. Portland & New York, 32-50
8-9. Minnesota & Sacramento, 33-49
10-11. Charlotte & Philly, 34-47

My advice to fans who feel conflicted about tonight’s Blazer game: Don’t openly root against Portland...root for the bench players to get lots of minutes.  Those guys have worked hard all year, and they deserve a big game.



Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Justice Served

The NBA has suspended referee Joey Crawford indefinitely, for at least the remainder of the regular season and the entire playoffs for his actions against Tim Duncan this past weekend.  From

Crawford's suspension will last at least through the NBA Finals. He apparently will have to meet with Stern after that to discuss reinstatement.

NBA spokesman Tim Frank said the league has not ruled out any penalties against Duncan. The Spurs said they did not yet have a comment.

Stern said Crawford's actions "failed to meet the standards of professionalism and game management we expect of NBA referees."

"Especially in light of similar prior acts by this official, a significant suspension is warranted," Stern said in a statement. "Although Joey is consistently rated as one of our top referees, he must be held accountable for his actions on the floor, and we will have further discussions with him following the season to be sure he understands his responsibilities."

I’m glad to see this douchebag get what he deserved.

Quick Draft Overview

A quick look at draft prospects for the Blazers the way I see it:

Start Making Room For Banners:
Greg Oden
Kevin Durant

No real justification needed for these two. I'm in the Oden camp, but it's certainly conceivable that the best place in the Lottery is the #2 pick and letting someone else decide for you.

Print Game Tickets For Next May:
Corey Brewer
Julian Wright
Jeff Green

They have one glaring hole in their lineup at small forward, I like all of these guys for various reasons. Brewer would be ideal and I think he's target #1 if they don't wind up in the top 3 picks.

Wild Cards:
Joakim Noah
Roy Hibbert
The Chinese Guy

All very interesting, Noah and Hibbert could present them with a ton of leverage and versatility in moves this off season. I think Noah makes his team better in a lot of ways and could be a great fit, I know The Other Guy isn't as sure. He's more of a Hibbert guy. The Chinese Guy, I'm not real sure about, don't know enough about him other than he's interesting. A 7 foot small forward is what is sounds like.

Would Need A Time Out In A Padded Room:
Spencer Hawes
Brook Lopez

Seriously, I think Chad Ford has them in his Top 16 as a joke. If the Blazers even have them in for a work out I might have to whack them on the knee outside the practice facility like Nancy Kerrigan.

Monday, April 16, 2007

More on the Crawford Thing

This is from Chris Sheridan’s ESPN Insider blog:

A little over a year ago, a little birdie...told me a little story about Joey Crawford...Crawford was summoned to the league office in New York by Commissioner David Stern nearly four years ago following his antics in Game 2 of the 2003 Western Conference finals. Crawford had called four technical fouls in the first 10 minutes, 11 seconds and ejected Mavs coaches Don Nelson and Del Harris.  Stern, from what I was told, was livid that Crawford had become the story of Game 2, and Crawford was told that if it ever happened again, the consequences would be serious.  Well, it sure looks like Crawford is the story again, and I'm eager to see how Stern and NBA VP of basketball operations Stu Jackson handle this.”

I distinctly remember that Western Conference Finals game and I recall thinking “what a joke that the ref is losing control of such an important game.”  Much how, upon watching Sunday’s game thinking “what a joke that this ref is making this game about him.”  My biggest pet peeve with NBA refs and MLB umpires is how they make the game about themselves.  If you’re being shown up, fine — take action.  But if you aren’t being shown up, and if a player hasn’t said something completely vile, what’s your excuse?  It’s an ego thing.  The best refs and umps are those that you don’t notice.  Joey Crawford should be suspended for at least the remainder of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs, and shouldn’t be allowed to officiate any Spurs playoff games this year at a minimum.  The NBA doesn’t announce or make their punishments to officials public knowledge, so we likely won’t know exactly what kind of a suspension he gets until it’s over.

Quick Check Around The League

A few items to catch up on today.

Knicks Interested in Ruben Patterson

Man, that’s funny on so many levels. But that was an actual headline that I read this morning; apparently the Knicks are going to make a play for a sign-and-trade for Patterson. Because they don’t have enough wing players. And after all, it’s only Ruben Patterson in New York City — what could possibly go wrong?

The Tim Duncan Extravaganza

I was actually watching this game as it happened, as I was biding time until the Cubs game started on WGN. Let me share with you that I am certainly no Tim Duncan apologist, but what happened to him was reprehensible. Referree Joey Crawford gave Tim Duncan a technical foul for essentially complaining about an on-court call while Duncan was on the bench. He wasn’t showing him up, he didn’t even stand — he simply made a comment from the bench. Then a few minutes later, Crawford makes another call (another bad call if I may add) and Tim Duncan and Robert Horry were laughing. What were they laughing about? Probably the call, but who knows. So Crawford gives Duncan another T and ejects him from the game.

What the hell is that? If Duncan had stood up, put his hands in the air, and made a big deal out of it — fine. But he didn’t. He didn’t do anything even close. In fact nobody would have noticed it if Crawford hadn’t given him a technical. The first T was a joke, and the second one was borderline retarded. This is the type of action that should get a referee suspended for a significant amount of time.

Playoff Update

West: Lakers are in, The Warriors destroyed Minnesota and the Clippers lost yesterday, giving Golden State the inside track to the #8 seed. Both teams have two games left. East: Orlando & New Jersey are in, Indiana is out.

Draft Seed Update

As we all know, Portland knocked off Seattle yesterday, effectively locking in Atlanta and Seattle as the #4 and #5 spots. The Blazers are now tied with New York and Minnesota for the #6-8 spots, with Charlotte, Sacramento and Philly right behind. We’ll have another close look at this tomorrow, following tonight’s game.

Recommended Reading

If you aren’t reading Paul Shirley’s journals on, you should be. His stuff is fantastic. The most recent article can be found here, and there’s an archive along the right-hand side. Great stuff.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Where Will Portland Draft?

Admittedly, this is something that I’ve been thinking about for a few months, once it became clear the team wasn’t going to make the playoffs.  And lets be honest, would this team really learn much from getting its asses whipped in four straight games by Dallas anyway?

So where will Portland likely end up drafting?  Hopefully #1.  But assuming they don’t win the lottery or get a top three pick, where is the team likely to end up?  If the season ended today, Portland would pick #6.  (A great place to be, by the way.  Given the talent in this year’s draft, I’d be happy with anything in the 5-8 range.)  

But could that change?  Atlanta would need to win three more games and Portland would have to lose out in order to “climb” all the way up to #4, so that’s out.  But it is conceivable that the Blazers could jump Seattle into the #5 spot.  In fact, those two teams play in Portland on Saturday night, and one might assume that the loser has the inside track for the #5 pick.  On the other side, there are a whopping five teams that are either a half or a full game “behind” Portland in the race to climb the draft list.  

But let’s take a closer look.  Following are each of the teams immediately surrounding Portland in the standings, their remaining schedule, a projection of how they’ll perform and a guess at the final record.  Given how close the teams in the 5-11 range are, we’ll focus on that segment.

11. Philadelphia, 33-45.  Remaining: vs Orlando (L), @Det (L), vs Cle (L), @Tor (L).  Final record: 33-49.

10. New York, 32-46.
 Remaining games: @NJ (L), @Tor (L), vs NJ (L), @Cha (W).  Final record: 33-49.

9. Minnesota, 32-46.  
Remaining: vs SA (L), @GS (L), @Den (L), @Mem (W).  Final record: 33-49.

8. Sacramento, 32-46.  
Remaining: vs GS (L), @LAC (L), vs NOK (W), vs LAL (L).  Final Record: 33-49.

7. Charlotte, 32-47.
 Remaining: @Chi (L), @Mil (W), vs NY (L).  Final record: 33-49.

6. Portland, 31-47.  
Remaining: @LAC (L), vs Sea (W), @UTA (L), vs GS (L).  Final record: 32-50.

5. Seattle, 31-48.  
Remaining: @Por (L), @LAL (L), vs Dal (L).  Final record: 31-51.

Taking the projected records and flip-flopping the order, we’d end up with this:

5. Seattle (31-51)
6. Portland (32-50)
7 – 11: Charlotte, Sacramento, Minnesota, New York, Philly.  (33-49)

Holy cow.  What a crowd.  It sure would be nice to avoid that pack of predators lurking behind Portland (Bobcats!  Wolves!  So many dangerous animals to avoid).  You can now see how important that A. the Portland-Seattle game on Saturday is, and B. That Knicks-Bobcats game next Wednesday is.  I would never say that we should root for Portland to lose games ...and I would never advocate the franchise tanking games; that’s a rerehensible act that should be punished and not rewarded.  And Kevin Pritchard is on record as saying something to the effect of “I’ve told the team that they need to go out and win ballgames.  Don’t worry where we pick — 5, 8, 10 — wherever it is, we’ll make a good pick.  You guys just go out and win and let us worry about that.”  Which is great to hear.  But given how an extra win could potentially push the team from the #6 pick to the #11 pick, maybe we should, um, root for “the bench guys to get some playing time”.  How about that?  Then we aren’t rooting for them to “lose”, we aren’t advocating tanking, we just want those poor bastards who didn’t play much this year to get some extra PT.  I’ve always thought that Luke Schensherer could use a good 35-40 minutes of playing time, don’t you agree?

Happy Friday.


Tread Carefully

There is a very nice article on Ime Udoka in the Oregonian this morning, however it got me thinking about his situation and his impending free agency. I have to admit that I started to worry a bit as I was reading the article. Over the last 5 years or so the Blazers have fallen into this trap of overpaying their own mediocrity because of their infatuation with them. This is a key component of remaining a poor basketball team. I like Ime Udoka, he provides above average defense, can hit an open jumper in the corner, and is a quality Glue Guy. However, they should not do something crazy and offer him a 3-5 year deal worth 6-10 million per, or their entire mid-level exception, or some other monstrosity. See if you remember any of these debacles.

Theo Ratliff was acquired back when John Nash and Subterfuge Stevie were beginning to systematically destroy the franchise. He played hard, great defense, blocked shots, and brought some energy to the floor. However he was injury prone and old, but the fans liked him, the front office liked him, so they locked him up with a long term deal that turned into a complete albatross.

Darius Miles, almost identical to Theo, this is the classic drunk on talent phenomenon. Paul was wowed by his dunks and his random great games, but he wasn't worth a long term deal. He was our player however, he looked good and appeared to be wanted, so they locked him up long term. Another albatross.

Joel Pryzbilla, again a likable guy, plays hard, brings defense and energy and a little toughness, but this is a perfect guide to the Udoka situation. A 1 year contract for low dollars is great value, the entire mid level exception and a long term deal is not good value. He's not the albatross the first two are, but he's still a mistake.

Brian Grant, this is important to bring up, Trader Bob recognized that he was overvalued. Everyone loved him, great guy, but he was not a max contract player. He was getting older, had some injury problems, and was not going to be an impact player for much longer, certainly not for the next 5-7 years (at the time).

This brings me back to Udoka. He's replaceable. Don't get crazy. He's 29 years old and a useful role player, but his overall value for the salary cap dollar can become diminished in a hurry if Pritchard is not careful.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Bonzi Wells Update

Many of us Blazer fans detest Bonzi Wells due primarily to his poor attitude towards the end of his tenure with the Blazers. I know that I for one laughed a long, hearty laugh last offseason when he turned down a 5-year, $37 million contract from the Kings because he thought they didn’t offer him enough, and the Kings moved on. Wells couldn’t find any more takers and ended up signing a one-year $2 million contract with the Houston Rockets. (Nice work, Bonzi. And who’s his agent? Must be the same guy who forgot to file free agency papers with the league for Anthony Parker and cost him about $4 million two years ago.) So Bonzi has cost himself at least $5 million with poor decisionmaking last year, and I imagine that tab will only continue to grow.

And it appears that he’s doubled-down. In signing the contract with Houston, Wells (and what I imagine was his “new” agent) figured that he’d suck it up, play hard for a year, and sign a big fat deal this coming offseason. Fair enough approach. Only problem is, he’s been a major issue for the team all season. He wasn’t having a very good year to begin with ...playing in only 28 games and averaging 7.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.1 assists while shooing 41% from the floor and 14% (yes, you read that correctly) from three-point. Now, however, as you have most likely heard, he has abandoned the team. He didn’t show up for the team’s game in Seattle on Monday, opting instead to stay in his hotel room, because he felt he was “disrupting the team’s chemistry on the court” -- which makes no sense on several levels. First of all, how can you disrupt the on-court chemistry when you’ve played in less than half of the team’s games at 20 minutes per game? Secondly, how do you think a stunt like this will serve to help the team?

Anyhow, the team announced today that Bonzi won't be playing for them for the rest of the year, including the playoffs. Which is quite a motion, considering that Wells' game is perfectly suited for the playoffs and given his past successes on that stage. Clearly, the team feels that his distraction-factor outweighs any potential contribution he may give on the court, and I can't blame them for this. Given Wells’ mediocre play this season and that he clearly hasn’t changed his poor-behavin’ ways, I don’t think that big contract will be coming any time soon. Good riddance, Bonzi.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Keeping Tabs On Playoff Seeds

How are we looking for the playoff seedings?  Let’s take a look.  If the season ended today...



  1. Dallas
  2. Phoenix
  3. San Antonio
  4. Utah
  5. Houston
  6. Denver
  7. LA Lakers
  8. Golden State


Golden State



San Antonio


Wow, the West playoffs are going to be incredible again this year.  Just look at that first round.  You’ve got two of the fastest and highest-tempo teams in the league in Dallas and Golden State.  This would be an ass kicking, but it would be the most entertaining ass kicking you’ve ever seen.  Additionally, we have two big-time rematches of first round matchups from last year in Phoenix-LA and San Antonio-Denver.  Don’t forget about the Kobe Bryant – Raja Bell fiasco from last season as well as the Lakers blowing that 3-1 series lead.  And I believe the Nuggets pushed the Spurs to the brink last season before finally succumbing to elimination.  We all know that this is Dallas’ tournament to lose, but with an absolutely loaded Western Conference, nothing is taken for granted.  

Also noteworthy are two seed battles.  First, the chase for #6 between surging Denver and fading LA Lakers.  Getting a #6 seed means that a can avoid a first round matchup with either Dallas or Phoenix, and both clubs will be pulling out all the stops to stay away from the 7th and 8th spots.  Also fun to watch will be the battle for that 8th and final spot.  It’s a two-hourse race, and here’s how it looks now, along with remaining schedule:

8. Golden State (38-40): @Sac, vs Min, vs Dal, @Por
9. LA Clippers (37-39): @NOK, @LAL, vs Por, vs Sac, @Pho, vs NOK

Let’s give the Warriors 3-1 in those last four games; I think they beat everyone but Dallas, and even that game could be easier than it appears if the Mavs are resting any of their studs.  The Clippers have a slightly tougher road — they’ve probably got two losses between the Lakers and Phoenix.  So for now, we’ll say the Warriors have the upper hand, but not by much.


All season we’ve said that the West is simply a Dallas and Phoenix collision course, which I still believe to be true.  The only difference is that the Western Conference Finals (also known as the “real NBA championship”) is Dallas’ to lose instead of Phoenix’s.



  1. Detroit
  2. Chicago
  3. Toronto
  4. Miami
  5. Cleveland
  6. Washington
  7. New Jersey
  8. Orlando




New Jersey



Things don’t get too interesting until the second round (as you’d expect from a terrible conference).  You might think that Orlando matches up well with Detroit given their front-court talent, but they simply don’t have the perimeter scoring to keep up with Detroit, and as much as I love the Magic they might get swept.  I suppose a Dwyane Wade – LeBron James Miami/Cleveland matchup will be interesting, but Chicago and Toronto will wipe the floor with their opponents.  Oh how we’ll miss you, Gilbert!  In the second round, though, that Chicago-Toronto matchup sets the stage for what I believe will be the East’s best rivalry in the next five years.

As for seed battles, there are plenty going on.  Toronto is one game behind Chicago for the #2 spot; Orlando is a half-game behind New Jersey for the #7 spot, and Indiana is 1.5 games behind Orlando for the 8th spot.


Detroit, Miami, Chicago, Toronto, with a Pistons-Bulls Eastern Conference finals, pitting Ben Wallace against his old mates.  


Friday, April 06, 2007

Triumphant Return of The Moderator

Wait, you mean I’m supposed to actually post to this blog?

Three weeks, two days, and 25 bottles of wine later, your fearless moderator is back. I can’t tell you where I’ve been and I can’t tell you where I’m goin’, but I’ve returned to the United States of America and I’m ready to talk some NBA basketball. Thanks to Lochi for once again holding down the fort during my extended absence.

Lots to talk about regarding the Blazers, and lets tackle them one by one.

1. The GM News

As you all know, Kevin Pritchard was promoted to GM of the Blazers, and frankly I couldn’t be happier about this move. This may or may not be a good sign — as you may recall, I was not happy with the selection of Nate McMillan as head coach, and that seems to have worked out pretty well — but nonetheless its something to be excited about. The endorsement of Marc Iavaroni two years ago as the new head coach (astounding that he hasn’t gotten a HC job yet, by the way) was based on what he might do, whereas the joy regarding Pritchard is based on what he has done. We’ll get to the jewel in Kevvy’s crown in a moment, but lets talk about some of his other minor achievements:
  • The signing of Steve Blake. Say what you will about Steve, he worked out very well for Portland, providing a very economical digestion of much needed minutes at the point guard and netting us what should have been some very good trade bait in Jamaal Magloire.
  • The signing of Ime Udoka. Who knew that a player with limited NBA experience in his late-20’s could fill the void at SF that Portland so desperately needed with the absence of Miles? Udoka has been a bit of a phenom. Granted, he probably shouldn’t be playing as much as he has this year for Portland but a great find on Pritchard’s part.
  • And, of course, the 2006 draft. It’s clear that Portland came out of a relatively weak draft class with arguably the two best players in Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge, and stole Sergio Rodriguez out from under the league’s nose by simply purchasing Phoenix’s draft pick and snagging him.

Pritchard is a great selection. He’s clearly dedicated to the team, clearly a hard worker and most importantly he’s a creative thinker in many ways. His state of the art statistics models are becoming infamous and he clearly has the ability to evaluate talent and negotiate with other teams. I believe that had Steve Patterson not held him back from talking to other teams prior to this year’s trading deadline, Jamaal Magloire would have netted us some sort of additional asset that would last us past this season. But I don’t think we’ll see anymore bygones like that, and all hail King Pritchard.

2. The Draft

Barring a lottery miracle, it appears that Portland will end up in the 8-10 range come draft day. Lets review a few things before we identify potential picks.

First off, the team is set at PG, SG, and PF for several years, which leaves SF and C as the two potential options. I do not think the team views Darius Miles as a solution at SF, so that’s still a question mark, and Joel Pryzbilla — as much as I love the guy — looks as if he won’t be a long term solution at Center.

Here’s the bigger question: With all of Portland’s youth, and with Kevin Pritchard around, the chances that the pick could be dealt in exchange for an established star player at one of these positions seems very high. Obviously, Portland would need to include a salary back, but they’ve got a big salaries that are expendable. For example, would it really surprise you to see Portland send Raef LaFrentz and the #7 pick to Seattle in a sign-and-trade for Rashard Lewis? Now, I don’t think that particular deal will happen, but you catch my drift here.

3. Random Tidbits

  • I need to make something clear: I don’t care much for awards. Coach of the year, MVP, etc, its all a bunch of crap to me. But check out the list of past Rookie of the Year candidates. The ROY award has a pretty darn good history of outstanding players — the last ten winners are Chris Paul, Emeka Okafor, LeBron James, Amare Stoudamire, Pau Gasol, Mike Miller, Elton Brand, Vince Carter, Tim Duncan, and Allen Iverson. (the one notable exception: Damon Stoudamire, and you can see the full list of winners here.)
  • The Philadelphia 76ers with Iverson were something like 5-14. Since they traded him, they’ve gone 24-25. How is nobody else talking about this?
  • Speaking of Eastern teams that are exceeding expectations, the Toronto Raptors are 28-13 in their last 41 games. And in case you’re curious, Juan Dixon is averaging 12 points and 27 minutes per game for them. Fred Jones? 3.4 points in 15 minutes per game for Portland. Is there a GM in the league that you’d rather have running your team than Bryan Colangelo right now? Alright, let’s move along.

And finally, we’ve got a minor announcement regarding the blog. We’ll be doing some stuff in partnership with the guys at, which is a website where people can buy and sell and trade professional sports teams and players as if they were stocks, which is kind of cool. You can get Blazer information anywhere — “but you come to BlazersBlog for the attitude and the atmosphere” — and the investment advice!

Go Blazers.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


After watching that title game, I'm even more convinced that if the Blazers catch a break and win the lottery they have to take Greg Oden. His offensive game is nice, but it's on the defensive end that I think he's a true difference maker. The shot blocking ability is just out of this world.

I wouldn't have a problem with Noah if he fell to the Blazers in that 6-8 draft spot. He's the new Dennis Rodman. He's not going to be an all star in the NBA, but your team will be better if he's on it.

Corey Brewer might be a better fit if they decide to keep Randolph long term. Lock down defender and a good perimeter game, but surprisingly explosive too.

Z-bo done for the year with a random hand injury, I guess we'll get to test out that theory that their offense looks better without him out there clogging it up.

I see visions of a starting 5 running the floor of Sergio, Roy, Rashard Lewis, Aldridge, and Noah and I start to get the shakes. That's everything you want in a roster, pass first point guard, two dynamic wing players, and two post players that are ideal for each other. Aldridge has the offensive game, Noah doesn't need the ball in the half court, and both are good defenders, specifically help defenders off the ball.

I'm leaving the Kevin Pritchard stuff to The Other Guy, who will be making his triumphant return here shortly. That's much more of his type of stuff, but I definitely like the move.