Friday, January 23, 2009

Report Card

So we are (2) games past the halfway point in the season, and we have a few days break, so I thought I would write a report card for each Blazer so far this year. So here are my thoughts, feel free to try to emasculate me or praise me in the comment section, or leave a grade or two of your own for your favorite players, trust me I’ll read it!

Brandon Roy: A

Brandon somehow managed to be even better then I thought he was going to be this year. He does everything for this team. Anyone who watches the Blazers on a regular basis knows that he is one of those players who makes the game that much easier for those around him. Not only does Roy lead us in scoring (22.3) and assists (5.2), he is 2nd in steals (1.03) 4th in rebounds (4.7) and 2nd in assist to turnover ratio (2.68) which is amazing considering how much he has the ball in his hands and how often he is double teamed. Roy is heart and soul of this team and is the unquestionable leader.

LaMarcus Aldridge: B+

I would give Aldridge an A as well, but his slow start (marked by the worst shooting slump of his career) negates his recent play. Aldridge really hit his stride when Roy was out for a couple games, stepping up his scoring and rebounding. What I like about LaMarcus is that he continues to improve despite already being good. If we get the same kind of improvement out of the rest of our young players as we get out of LaMarcus, we will be knocking on the finals door sooner then expected.

Greg Oden: C

There are two sides to the Greg Oden argument. One side says be patient and the other is he was the number one pick, why is he not doing more? I have been (and still am) on the "be patient" side. He is a rookie big man, who hadn’t played basketball for some 19 months prior to the start of the year, coming off what used to be considered a near career ending surgery in the NBA. Many people point to Amare Stoudamire’s recovery from the microfracture, but you have to remember that was the quickest and best recovery we have yet to see in the NBA! So give Greg sometime to settle in. He might not be that dominant presence that we need/want him to be yet, but I think he will get there eventually. You can already see that his lows aren’t as low any more, and his average game is moving up the scale. Again with such a young player (and team) it just takes time, and as long as they keep improving I am happy (for now).

Steve Blake: B+

Has anyone been more of a pleasant surprise then Blake? He leads the Blazers in 3’s made, and is doing it at a career high percentage. His recent absence has put an exclamation point on how much we rely on him. He has time and again hit big shots when defenses collapsed on Brandon Roy; he has the best assist to turnover ratio on the team, and is a stellar free throw shooter. Barring a trade for a top tier point guard, I don’t see Blake’s starting job in jeopardy anytime soon.

Nicholas Batum: B

If any of you watched Batum in summer league you would have thought (just like I did) that he was at least 2-3 years away from being able to contribute to our team. Well, we were definitely wrong. Batum adds some parameter defense to what is a fairly weak defensive backcourt. It seemed like the Blazers were searching for that “glue guy”, a Shane Battier or Bruce Bowen type, but it would appear that we have one in the making with Nicholas. I look forward to seeing his development in the coming years.

Joel “The Thrilla” Przybilla: A-

How many guys in professional sports do you know that would move to the bench during the best year of his career for a rookie and not gripe once about it? But that is why I love the Vanilla Gorilla so much. He embodies team, and toughness. He is our enforcer, and I can’t think of too many players that would be a better teacher for Oden. Przy manages to lead the team in rebounds (8.0) despite being 7th on the team in minutes. He is extremely effective in his short minutes and is an amazing insurance policy for Oden and his foul trouble. Roy is the heart and soul of this team, Przy is the toughness.

Rudy Fernandez: C+

Rudy came out of gate firing on all cylinders. He was good for at least one ally-oop dunk a game, and a couple 3’s. However, you can tell he has hit the “rookie wall”. The rookie wall is the point in the season where rookies are adjusting to playing over twice as many games as they ever have before in their career. Physical, but more so, mental fatigue begins to set in. Many of you might disagree with me, but just because Rudy is flashy doesn’t mean he deserves an “A”. I think the most telling stretch in Rudy’s rookie year was the stretch of games when Roy was out and Rudy started. It was a reminder that Rudy is still a rookie and has a long ways to go before he can contribute on a regular basis being one of the top guys.

Travis Outlaw: B-

Travis’ year (and career) has been marked by his inconsistency. While I will concede that you have to expect that from jump shooters, I will not concede that he can just disappear from the entire game. Travis’ problem is he forgets that just because his jumper isn’t falling doesn’t mean he can’t help our team. Travis has great athleticism and I would like to seem his use to rebound and play D. He only seems interested in doing this every once in a while, which makes him expendable to me.

Sergio Rodriguez: C

Sergio has had a huge opportunity lately with Blake out to show us what he is really made of. And while it hasn’t been horrible, it definitely hasn’t been impressive either. As long as Sergio is on this team, he will be a mediocre PG at best. His strengths are in sharp contrast with our requirements from a point guard. I do not see Sergio in the Portland’s long term plans.

Martell Webster: Incomplete

Let’s hope his return sparks a win streak and helps to make our 3 point shooting more consistent. The latest report is Martell's return date is closer to March then February.

Channing Frye: C-

Not that we expected big things out of Channing, but he hasn’t even been able to give us quality backup minutes. His game just doesn’t fit with what we are trying to do and it shows in his playing time. To his credit he has been a great teammate throughout this difficult stretch.

Jerryd Bayless: B-

Jerryd started the season wound so tight it looked like any turnover was going to make him snap and kill someone with his bare hands. But after he was allowed time to play through his mistakes without fear of being pulled, he took full advantage. That is what gamers do and to me is the difference between him and Sergio. Bayless brings something the Blazers desperately need, easy points. Besides Roy, no one truly gets easy baskets, either lay-ins or free throws. Bayless helps us get both. To me, he could replace Outlaw as our offensive spark in the 2nd unit, because I feel like because he gets to the rim and goes to the foul line, it will be easier for him to bring the points consistently. As opposed to Outlaw who is screwed if his jumper isn’t falling. Now I am not saying that this will happen this season, but I do see it on the horizon.

Ike Diogu: F

I actually thought Diogu could bring something to the table this year. I was definitely wrong.

Raef LaFrentz: A+

Raef has been killing the rehab. Just kidding, I have no idea how his rehab is going, but because he is out for the season, it makes his expiring contract even more valuable. I think that is worth an A, considering what we expected from Raef this year!

Shavlik Randolph: Incomplete

Sorry, I can’t really tell how good or bad he is considering he’s played like 5 minutes all season..

So what do you guys think? Agree? Disagree? Why? Sound off!

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