Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Aldrdige, Zbo, and Oden: Enough Minutes to go Around?

Zach Randolph said something interesting today, when asked about the prospect of LaMarcus Aldridge being deserving of starters’ minutes:

"I have been thinking that, too," Randolph said. "Have LaMarcus play power forward, big (Greg) Oden at center, you know, develop the young players. But I also think that even though LaMarcus plays the same position, there is enough time for all of us. Because LaMarcus can play center, too. I think we can all play together."

Which got me thinking.  Are there enough minutes for all three?  And what about Pryzbilla?  We’re going to make an assumption for purposes of this post, which is that Portland will be drafting Greg Oden.  Bear with me.

The quick answer: yes, for now.  We’ve talked about this before.  Between power forward and center there are 96 minutes in an NBA basketball game.  Zbo deserves to play 35; there is no doubt about this.  That leaves 61 minutes for Aldridge, Oden, and Pryzbilla.  

It’s looking more and more like Pryzbilla is a backup center.  And likely a very serviceable one.  And for most of his rookie year, I think you can get away with — and it might even be beneficial in the long term — giving Greg Oden about 20 minutes per game.  A front court rotation like this would certainly work:

PF: Randolph 35, Aldridge 13
C: Pryzbilla 20, Oden 20, Aldridge 8.

That’s 35 minutes for Zbo, and 20 minutes each for Oden, Pryzbilla, and Aldridge.  For the first half of the season, I think this a rock-solid plan.  Should anyone either get hurt or prove they don’t deserve that many minutes, you’ve got more than ample space to gobble them up.  The counter-argument to this scenario would be that Aldridge already deserves more than 20 minutes per game, and that Oden probably will by about halfway through next season.  Well folks, that’s why they allow mid-season trades in the NBA.  

So I would say that for now, unless the team can address it’s one glaring weakness (a starting-caliber SF), they should hold on to Zbo.  He’s a known commodity and will certainly fetch a hefty price in return.  If you can get a Rashard Lewis, or a Richard Jefferson, or a Shawn Marion (sorry, had to go on a little fantasy run there), then you deal Zbo.  If not?  Be patient, let your young bigs develop, and trade him later from a position of strength.  Kevin Pritchard knows all of this, and I trust him to make the right decision.  


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