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.