Thursday, November 01, 2007

How could I have forgotten?

Umm, I just watched the video that sits below this text. I'm sitting in a coffee shop, and I think people around me thought I was a little loopy because I was giggling like a little kid who has heard the best poop joke ever. Watch the video, then keep reading.

Somehow, as soon as Greg went down I forgot that he was on the team. In fact, somehow my mind just latched onto Taurean Green and Josh McRoberts as our only rookies this year. And technically they are. In my head I keep thinking about the value that we got out of the draft, because our two late picks are guys that should end up contributing at some point, even if that contribution is just making the team better by working hard in practice this year. But those aren't the only two guys we got in the draft. Nope. We also drafted Oden and Rudy Fernandez. Well, we actually traded for the rights to Fernandez, but I'm still considering that a draft pick. I don't know how many people remember this post, but I'll reference myself for fun:
Now for the reality check: as much as I was thinking about winning every game while reading the various accounts of the game, there's no way we'll even win more than 35 games this year. So that's what I want, along with some payback from the bouncing balls for us getting the fourth pick last year. Then we can still draft Oden and build on what happens this year...[then I put pictures up of what I thought would be the starting line up of the 2009 NBA champion Blazers]...
PG Sergio Rodriguez
SG Brandon Roy
SF Martell Webster
PF Zach Randolph
C Greg Oden
Once again I'm impressed with how well I predicted the season and the lottery on the opening day of the season last year. What I'm more impressed by, though, is that at the time I had no idea how good LaMarcus would be, and how soon he would be that good. I was always a big advocate for Randolph, especially because of the stories about how hard he worked. Henry Abbott of TrueHoop said this in June:
Scottie Pippen once told me that Randolph works harder than any teammate he has ever had.
I mean, that makes Zach a harder worker than, umm, Michael Jordan, right? At least in Scottie's opinion? Well, Nate McMillan was quoted in an article last week by Jason Quick of the Oregonian. Here's the whole section from Quick:
"I've never seen a starter in this league work like he does," McMillan said after a recent practice. "And it's every day. I mean look..."

McMillan pointed to Aldridge, who was shooting on the far side of the practice court, shirtless, his sweat-soaked jersey off to the side.
In that same article Quick included this piece:
And Bobby Medina, who is entering his 11th season as the Blazers' strength and conditioning coach, said Aldridge's work ethic in the weight room reminds him of former Blazers great Scottie Pippen, whose maniacal workout regime is legendary.
Let me use some logic here that I've been teaching my geometry students. If Scottie, who was known for how hard he worked, said that Zach worked harder than any teammate he'd ever had, and then Nate McMillan, who played in the NBA for a while and has coached a few years, said that he's never seen a starter in this league work like he does, then by the transitive property, McMillan must be suggesting that LaMarcus also works harder than a certain MJ. Throw in the fact that Medina compared LaMarcus' habits to Scottie, whose original statement set the table for this argument, and I think we can at least be certain that Aldridge is going to continue improving for a while.

Alright, I think that took me off subject for a second, so let's come back: I've been so focused on Aldridge, Przybilla, Roy, and Webster, that I nearly put Oden and Fernandez completely out of my mind. In that clip above this text we see Aldridge and Oden finding each other with really good passes. Sure, they don't finish very many of them. And sure, it was in summer league. But it was also within the first month that the two had played together. They were already playing like that and they'd only been together for less than a month. The reason that's really scary? The way the Blazers played against San Antonio on Tuesday and all the news from camp and the preseason have allowed me to focus on the team this year, instead of what they'll be when Oden gets back. That reminder of what they looked like with the two bigs together for just a second is the glimpse I need to get me absolutely excited again about next year. Regardless of a new draft pick, or some trade, or even another free agent signing, next year should bring the two best picks from this year's draft to the team. If Webster plays like this all season, Outlaw continues to be a great sixth man, Przybilla is consistent with his resurgence, and the expected guys step into the roles we envision for them next year, we only have one question mark in our nine man rotation next year. Seriously. We have a front court that includes Webster, Aldridge, and Oden in the starting unit, with Outlaw and Przybilla supplying relief off the bench. We have a great Ginobili-like sixth man in Rudy Fernandez, spelling our team leader SG/PG Brandon Roy. The only real question is who starts at point guard, and if it's Roy, then who ends up as the combo guard giving breaks to Roy and Fernandez. But PG is the position we still have perhaps the most potential. Now do you understand why I'm giddy? This team will surprise people for some wins this year. But next year? We won't surprise anyone, we'll just beat them anyway.

I just nearly giggled to myself again, that's how exciting this is.

If I end up back in Oregon anytime soon because I get sick of LA or teaching down here is just too much, I plan on making as many Blazer games as possible. In fact, if I end up in Portland, I'm going to get season tickets. Being there for the dynasty will be even more fun than writing about it is now. And writing about it now is pretty fun. I can't wait...fortunately, while I have to wait for that, I don't have to wait to see the NBA's youngest team come out hard against every team this year.

I'll end with a quote from the Basketball Jones podcast yesterday, as they spent most of the time they were talking about the Blazers/Spurs game focusing on Portland:
SKEETS-The Blazer specifically – you can really tell that this team had been practicing and playing together all throughout the summer.
MELAS-Hell of a point Skeeter, hell of a point.
SKEETS-Could you not?
MELAS-When did they get into Portland? They got altogether earliest of any team in the league, right?
SKEETS-Maybe May.
MELAS-Yeah, May. Early June. It was frickin' early.
SKEETS-It was early. It was early.
MELAS-And they looked frickin' good.
They go on about Portland for a while longer.It's nice to have NBA people talking about the team again because of good basketball reasons. Oh it's nice.

1 comment:

Lewis said...

NBA Season Tickets would be sweet. The opportunity to get them is one of the biggest reasons I want to end up in the ATL right now. Guess we are both going to be dreaming about that for awhile.