Thursday, June 15, 2006

Magic Number?

Conventional wisdom says we need another volume scorer on the floor to help Zach's game. This will ease the defensive pressure on him, allow him to score easier, and give him another outlet to make passes. While this makes intuitive sense (and I would not disagree that it would help) it's been repeated to the point that people accept it as gospel truth...almost as if it would be a miracle cure to resurrect the team. I decided to take a look at team history to see if this claim bears up.

I looked for seasons wherein at least two players scored 18 points per game or more. I chose 18 because that's the level Zach's at now. Since he's our "best player" we couldn't very well cut him out or the experiment would be invalid. I assumed adding another one at least as good (offensively) would qualify as "getting help for him". Here are the complete results. The list reads: year, players and points, wins, and final outcome. "DNQ" means the season did not qualify because two or more players didn't score above 18 ppg.

1970-71 Petrie 24.8 Barnett 18.5 29 wins
1971-72 Wicks 24.5 Petrie 18.9 18 wins
1972-73 Petrie 24.9 Wicks 23.8 21 wins
1973-74 Petrie 24.3 Wicks 22.5 27 wins
1974-75 Wicks 21.7 Petrie 18.3 38 wins
1975-76 Wicks 19.1 Petrie 18.9 37 wins
1976-77 Lucas 20.2 Walton 18.6 49 wins World Champions
1977-78 DNQ
1978-79 Lucas 20.4 Owens 18.5 45 wins 1st round loss
1979-80 DNQ
1980-81 DNQ
1981-82 Thompson 20.8 Paxson 18.9 42 wins
1982-83 Paxson 21.7 Natt 20.4 46 wins 2nd round loss
1983-84 DNQ
1984-85 Vandeweghe 22.4 Thompson 18.4 50 wins 2nd round loss
1985-86 Vandeweghe 24.8 Drexler 18.5 40 wins 1st round loss
1986-87 Vandeweghe 26.9 Drexler 21.7 49 wins 1st round loss
1987-88 Drexler 27.0 Vandeweghe 20.2 Kersey 19.2 53 wins 1st round loss
1988-89 Drexler 27.2 Duckworth 18.1 39 wins 1st round loss
1989-90 DNQ
1990-91 DNQ
1991-92 Drexler 25.0 Porter 18.1 57 wins NBA Finals
1992-93 Drexler 19.9 Robinson 19.1 Porter 18.2 51 wins 1st round loss
1993-94 Robinson 20.1 Drexler 19.2 47 wins 1st round loss
1994-95 Drexler 22.0 Robinson 21.3 Strickland 18.9 44 wins 1st round loss
1995-96 Robinson 21.1 Strickland 18.7 44 wins 1st round loss
1996-97 DNQ
1997-98 DNQ
1998-99 DNQ
1999-00 DNQ
2000-01 DNQ
2001-02 DNQ
2002-03 DNQ
2003-04 DNQ
2004-05 DNQ
2005-06 DNQ

At a minimum the stats show that there's no solid correlation between having two 18+ point guys and deep playoff runs. Walton and Lucas did it in 1977. Drexler and Porter barely squeaked by in the Finals season of '92 (Porter scored 18.1). But the '90 Finals year and the '99 and '00 Western Conference Finals years did not qualify.

Furthermore, having two high scorers does not necessarily lead to regular season success. Wicks and Petrie averaged barely over 28 wins for six seasons. Factoring those out, the results range from a high of 57 in '91-'92 down to 39 in '88-'89. Of the 14 non-Petrie/Wicks seasons that qualified, only 4 times did we top 50 games with two volume scorers. We did it six times without. In the 20 total seasons that qualified, we either missed or got eliminated in the first round of the playoffs 16 times (which is 80% of the time for the math-obsessed).

Clearly adding another scorer, while possibly helpful, is no magic cure. Our most successful seasons didn't depend on multiple scorers as much as multi-faceted superstar-level players.



Blogger BLAZER PROPHET said...

I have two scenerios for you.

The first is Darius. While I'm not going to offer much of a defense for him, I do think he is still salvagable. If so (and I could easily be wrong), we have another scorer at forward. Also, if Webster continues to progress, teams will have to pay a lot of attention to him.

The second is if we draft Roy and if he turns out to be better than expected (especially shooting-wise). Webster could move to SF (assuming we trade Miles as I think that would be the only way we'd draft Roy, ie, a genuine hope of moving Miles) and again we'd have two more player capable of outside scoring.

Not great, but the best we can do for now. Also, JJ Ridick is quickly moving off the draft board and may be available in the second round. He can be a scorer off the bench and help a bit as well.

10:17 AM  
Anonymous fatty said...

there is nobody on this roster
except webster*jack worth being
in the league that said,morrison
or roy is nice building block
and like i said before next year
is the year either oden or noah
a nice line up of, jack,roy or
morrison with webster and either
oden or noah and trust me the
offense will be crisp and efficent
also get a pwf who has toughness
and smarts and not hoisting up
3's and walla awinning ticket !!!

1:59 PM  
Blogger BlazerBandit said...

It might be wise to look at a team that has won more championships than the Blazers. If you look at the teams that win the championship each year, i bet they have at least two main scorers. And as you have said many times that you want to build a championship contender, the best way to do that would be the guy most likely to score you bunches of points. I see Adam Morrison being that guy - Roy would be nice, but i dont see him being a primary scorer like Morrison could be.

2:09 PM  
Blogger BLAZER PROPHET said...

fatty, did you know oden has a torn ligament in his wrist and will have surgery on it? I wonder if this will effect his career. Also, if he has to miss most of this season, I wonder if he will stay for a second.

As to Noah, he really doesn't fully impress me yet.

3:25 PM  
Blogger Dave said... doubt most of the teams winning championships have guys who can score. I guess the point of the post was that you just can't put ANY two guys who can score on the floor together and automatically expect success. The scorers on championship-level teams (Jordan and Pippen, Duncan and Robinson, even Shaq and Wade today) have generally been multi-faceted as well as enormously talented.

If Morrison is one of those guys I'd love to have him. I don't think Zach is so we're in the hole one already. And if all our draft pick (or Webster, or Bassy, or whoever) can do is score then I don't expect a huge upturn. Or at least not one that takes us beyond mediocre.


7:36 PM  
Anonymous brian said...

I think more than another scorer, we need a guy who will help generate defensive stops and rebound. Sure Morrison will give you points, but he's not good enough defensively to lock down on the opposing team's player.
When you add that to the defensive liabilities of Telfair, Martell and Zach, that adds up to a lot of losses regardless of how many points Morrison puts up.
What we need is a guy that can hit a mid range jumper dependably, D up on opposing players, and grab some boards. When we start doing these things, we'll generate fast breaks for ourselves while limiting opportunities for our opponents.
I think the best bets for the Blazers would be Roy or Gay.

1:39 AM  
Anonymous Dr. Dave said...

I agree with your conclusion, Dave and with Brian above. More than a prolific scorer, we need guys who can play some defense and do the fundamentals well. The scoring will generate from defending and rebounding. Look at the best teams: they all defend well. Offense comes and goes. Good teams count on their defense every game. If the Blazers have an offensive need it would be a deadly 3-point artist who can drill the shot at crunch time. I say draft, trade, train for defense.

3:14 AM  

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