Wednesday, August 02, 2006

New and Improved?

Let's assume, as per yesterday's post, that barring a miracle we're done trading for the summer, save a minor roster spot addition or perhaps a Dixon trade. Have we gotten better? If so, how much?

At the end of last season the clear problem areas for the team were:

--too short and slow/unathletic overall
--stagnant offense...not a lot of guys who move without the ball or who can score without holding it for five seconds first
--sporadic commitment to defense, often in transition
--poor defensive rebounding
--not enough players with passing skills
--overall lack of basketball IQ
--not enough toughness/meanness
--lack of future cap space to make any significant changes

Let's look at how they've been addressed (if at all).

Too Short and Slow and Unathletic
The first part, at least, is the biggest gain we've made in the offseason. Just starting Jack at the point gives us an inch over Blake and several inches over Telfair. If Roy plays any point he's even taller. Both Roy and Webster tower over Juan Dixon at the 2. Small forward remains essentially the same but LaFrentz and Magloire give us taller options at power forward. While technically we lost some height at center with the departure of Ha and Ratliff it shouldn't matter too much, as both replacements have size. Frankly it will be a relief not to have opposing guards just rise and gun it over us whenever they choose.

As far as the slow/athletic issue, we've made more modest gains. Roy has tricky quickness in every direction. Jack and Webster aren't speed demons but we'll be seeing more of Outlaw and less of Khryapa at the 3, which helps (in this area anyway). Magloire is not fast, but has a good body. I'm not sure we'll be outrunning a lot of teams, but hopefully we won't get outmuscled quite so consistently.

Stagnant Offense
I'm not sure we made any gains here. Roy would be the best hope, but it'll be a while before he has a major impact. Jack is still learning how to play the point, which doesn't help. Magloire likes to score one-on-one. And, of course, the Zach issue still remains. It'll be interesting to see what kind of offensive sets Nate plans and whether the guys actually follow them.

Sporadic Defense, Especially Transition
This is where I have my greatest hopes...eventually. Every player we acquired this off-season who's not a backup point guard has defensive skills. That's a fantastic shift in emphasis. Someday Roy, Aldridge, and Jack are going to provide a very nice defensive lineup. They're also effort guys, which should help in transition. It might not show up this year, but down the line we'll be fine.

Poor Defensive Rebounding
Magloire is the great hope here. The secondary hope is that the backcourt starts defending better, allowing Joel to remain in position for boards. I'd say we got marginally better, depending on how much floor time Jamaal actually sees and how long he's with the team.

Not Enough Players With Passing Skills
Again Roy provides a partial answer...especially upgrading from Dixon. If you look at the guys who will actually be playing major minutes, however, it's still a big area of concern. Our volume scorers are just not good passers. They don't even see the floor beyond the bucket. I think we have some good potential in the backcourt but the reality is the guys who will be touching the ball most also won't move it.

Overall Lack of Basketball IQ
Still a concern. Roy has it, but we still have a long way to go with everybody else, mostly because half the team is young.

Not Enough Toughness/Meanness
If Magloire stays then he'll help address that, but we still have far more finesse/skill guys than legit roughnecks.

Lack of Future Cap Space
With the acquisition of LaFrentz this got worse, not better. We still won't have much wiggle room for the next couple years unless a major move is made.

Obviously it's impossible to remake a team entirely in a couple months. Seriously addressing three of eight problem areas and partially addressing three others is a pretty good start though. I think some optimism is warranted. As I read around the web, however, I see some people already going overboard in their predictions. As somebody said in the O-Live forum yesterday, seven trades is exciting, but exciting does not automatically equal better. The core of our frontcourt is essentially unchanged, save for the addition of Magloire. The backcourt has been revolutionized, but those guys are young. Webster and Jack are just babies, Roy and Rodriguez are younger than that, and Travis Outlaw has this weird "dog year" thing going where it takes him seven years for one year of on-court maturing. That means there's going to be a TON of inconsistency this year as the kids learn. You're relying big time on Zach and Darius in the frontcourt (and they didn't do anything last year to make you rejoice over that) and in the backcourt your steadiest players are likely to be Dan Dickau and Juan Dixon. That doesn't smell like a playoff team to me, or even close. We've taken good steps, but they're still baby steps at this point. We can certainly lay claim to having a mostly new team. Improved may still have to wait a little.

--Dave (


Anonymous TP43 said...

Nice breakdown Dave, I'm right there with you on all of these with one minor exception. I'd say I'm slightly more optimistic that our offense will be better only because we've got more guys who can hit an open jumper in Roy, Aldridge, and Lafrentz vs Telfair, Khryapa, and Theo but it's going to be up to Nate to leverage that and they may not be on the floor enough to make a difference.

I'm kind of shocked that anybody would be projecting a significant jump in wins. I like what we've done but make no mistake, we are still very much in a rebuilding mode. We got younger across the board and that's not going to help win games even with better talent. We don't have a single allstar (1 year = fluke unless followed up) on the roster or even anyone who looks poised to attain that this year. Decent teams have one or two allstars or at least one superstar so we're definitely still lacking in the talent department but with hope for guys developing.

I'll be quite pleased with anything approaching 30 wins this year and consider it a big success.

12:36 PM  
Anonymous fatty said...

17 wins with the 2 cancers
25 wins with them gone,it'll
be the same story,if cat which
is magloire to you blazer fans
is'nt starting he'll be very
unhappy and waiting for his
next deal,if miles is not
traded by opening night my
? which all blazer fans should
be curious about will he start
because if he does he's decent
and if someone like martell
beats him out then he's in
street clothes coach's decision
so it's all up to nate,if i was
nate i would let webster,t.o.
and miles battle it out
somehow i feel webster would
win,also i would let cat*fatbo
battle it out at pf,cat would
win because of his contract
year,while the fat piece of
feces would lose only because
he's paid,see fellas until
we get either noah or oden
are team is nowhere near ready
because at the end of the day
i don't know about webster
but roy*aldridge will be 2
of the 4 pieces jack will be
the 3rd but the franchise will
be here on 6/27/07 trust me
dave we'll have dinner at
morton's steakhouse on me
we're talking 300.00 dave
o.k. sitting right next to
either noah or oden because
80% of the nba draftees eat
dinner after the draft at
morton's great spot dave really
so blazer blog room enjoy the
losing for 1 more season and
get your noah,oden,hansbrough
jersey now....the only reason
i'll be wacthing this year is
to see the development of
roy and the losing of course...

3:02 PM  
Blogger BLAZER PROPHET said...

Improvements: Zach & Darius have more or less recovered from their respective surgeries, squared away the PG situation, slight improvement in shooting, slight improvement in defense

Concerns: Still a team too young to contend for a playoff spot, can Nate create enough PT to mature the younger players, leadership, can Zach & Darius learn to play together, can Zach learn to spell the words d-e-f-e-n-s-e & s-h-a-r-e t-h-e b-a-l-l d-a-m-m-i-t

Lastly, and I know this sounds silly, but will KFXX & The Oregonian continue their efforts against the Blazers (which alienates some fans) and try to be more honest and professional.

I see 28-32 wins.

3:58 PM  
Blogger Ken said...

One more shoe is gonna drop. I don't know if it will be during the offseason or two months in, but one more shoe is going to drop.

I forget how many wins there were last year, 23? Whatever it was add ten.

6:32 PM  
Blogger ignacio said...

i'm with ken. more is to come.

10:31 PM  

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