Wednesday, May 10, 2006

More Zach

Renown blogger Lance Uppercut directed us to an interesting find here:

The article is well done, comparing won-loss records of teams with and without their major stars to find out which players are the most dispensable or indispensable. The fact that we were 0-8 without Zach pushed him pretty high on the indispensable list (4th overall).

I don't think that anybody but a few Darius fans would argue about Zach being our best overall player. That's not in question. The question is, "Is it enough?" The same article points out that we were 21-53 with Zach. That's a pretty low winning percentage. Also, statistically speaking, if you took a random, eight-game sample from those 74 games, you could come up with eight losses (thus if you only looked at eight game sets, you could come up 0-8 without Zach and 0-8 with). Maybe I'm crazy, but I'd tend to trust the bigger sample over the smaller one. And 21-53, though better than an unlikely 0-74, is still not very competitive.

Despite the temptation to cling to our best player like a liferaft in the storm, I view this "best player" argument like a poker game. If you're sitting there with a Jack-5 off-suit pre-flop and you have a bunch of players behind you, it doesn't make much sense to say, "Well, the J is my best card, so I better keep it." You don't go "all-in" there or even push in 1/3 to 1/4 of your chips on that J, which is what Zach's salary will amount to against our cap. If you have the opportunity you fold that hand and get a better one. (Poker purists keep in mind that you can't bluff in basketball. The games are actually played.) The Jack may be your "best card", but if you're still going to lose with it, it doesn't do you any good.

Granted it's not so instant and easy in basketball. Getting a new hand takes a couple years instead of a couple seconds. But the principle is the same. If we do have a chance to re-shuffle right now, I'd do it. Otherwise, as I said in the salary cap notes in a post below, we're going to be riding this Jack-5 for a long time and praying for good flops. And I don't think you'll find that strategy recommended in the Supersystem.



Anonymous Lance Uppercut said...

Thanks for the link Dave, though I take exception with your assertion that you should have done it sooner. If anything, you should have waited until I actually wrote something other than pointless gossip and whinning.:) I agree with your poker analogy, but the way I see it, we're already "all in" with Zach anyway. I wouldn't be averse to trading Z-Bo for some serious cap space or a player of equal talent (yeah right!), but how many more years does that push back the re-building? 3 or 4? Is there any way the Blazers could lure a bigtime free agent? I'm skeptical.

10:51 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Yah...I agree. (With the part about the pushing back, not with the part about your blog being pointless gossip. I read it a lot.) It's going to take time, for sure. I have wrestled with this myself. But with the kind of guys we're going to be able to surround Zach with if we keep him, I don't see us winning big in those 2-3 years anyway. We roll the dice either way, but I find myself favoring gambling with the draft and big-money free agency rather than with Z-Bo and trying to squeeze people around the cap (and around his game).

I also totally agree that we're already "all-in" with Zach. I thought that the instant we heard about the contract. If he were making $8 million, wasn't taking up so much cap space, and would be tradeable down the line I don't think we'd be having this discussion. This is why I'm so frantic about pushing the J. Rose possibility this year. It seems to me like we pushed in all our chips in on that J-5 and now somebody might be saying, " can take them back!" Given that opportunity, I'd take it.

I don't think we could lure a free agent now to save our soul, but let our guards develop a little, give me a young stud at one of the forward positions, and keep Przy/Theo at center and I bet after next year you could find somebody to man the other forward spot and lead the kids. We might even be described as an "emerging" team.

11:06 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Brilliant find on the Assmus kid, by the way. We should start a shrine to him or something.

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Donovan Mertz said...

I can't begin to tell you how totally refreshing it is to read, for a change, your sound clear headed thinking regarding our Portland Trail Blazers.

If John Nash is forced to leave, which I feel would be unjust, I am nominating you as the new GM. As your first duty, it wouldn't be a bad idea to pick me as your Kevin Pritchard type scout guy ... although I suspect you would - and should - retain Pritchard.

12:16 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Wow...thanks! But I am the first to admit that I couldn't do it. Too much pressure. However, if between us we can come up with $300 million plus operating capital, I'm sure we can buy the team, hire a real basketball guy to do all the dirty work, and just meddle from time to time. I can contribute at least 500 bucks if you can come up with the $290,999,500 plus operating expenses!


12:59 PM  
Anonymous Lance Uppercut said...

I've seriously been considering starting a Tyler Assmus blog all unto itself, but I figure I'll need a subject to obsess over during the lean days, so I'll probably just stick to admiring The Assmus over at Blazer's Edge.

11:00 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

You know how each team sends someone to the lottery drawing to represent them? The Blazers ought to send that guy...sort of representing the "missing spot" in our team equation as well as the photo. That would be funny as heck.

11:41 PM  

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