So, what do people want to know when it comes to the Blazers, just a week prior all-star weekend. Curious about this, I solicited some of my twitter followers and they asked some pretty good questions.
A couple of these are going to require educated guesses, and perhaps a wee bit of editorializing; while a couple of them required some research.
Albert asked: Cho is said to be working on a deal; should we make a trade or stick with the guys we have?
The nature of Rich Cho's job is to always be looking for an opportunity to improve the team. Portland has a team of scouts checking out players from around the country -- and the world (remember, someone recommended we sign Chris Johnson with Marcus' injury exception). Now, no one outside the inner circle really knows what kind of deal Cho is up to and, judging from his past statements, it could really involve anything. We have a couple players (Andre and Joel) who have expiring contracts. If we don't trade them and let them go unsigned during free agency, then we receive no compensation. However, the possibilities of resigning either or both of them is certainly viable. My feeling on Cho is that he's not going to make a trade just to make a trade. He's said to be an extremely patient and intelligent guy who keeps options open. If I were to make an educated guess, I would say we're going to make a minor trade with a younger player in exchange for either a draft pick or a back-up pf/center, the latter of which coming with an expiring contract. One thing I would note here is that it doesn't make sense to me to trade an expiring contract for another expiring contract. That would seem to undermine the team's continuity. We have a relatively good possibility of making a push to the playoffs and perhaps even past the first round with a roster missing only Greg and Elliot. I'd say we pretty much stay put at this trade deadline and work on improving the team over the summer, as it will be Cho's first draft and his first start of the free-agency signing period with the Blazers.
Russell asked: What's it going to take for Batum to have an Aldridge epiphany and realize what he can consistently do?
Hopefully, LaMarcus' epiphany and subsequent improvement can serve as an example to not only Nicolas, but to other Blazers. LaMarcus took it upon himself over the off-season to work on his body and his inside game. He hired a personal trainer and enlisted the help of assistant coach Bill Bayno. I believe he's also benefitted from playing alongside Marcus and working with assistant coach Buck Williams. He's definitely turned into one of the elite power forwards in the league. In an interview a few weeks ago, Nicolas mentioned that he wants to develop his mid-range jumper. That would certainly make him more of an offensive threat. I think what Nicolas needs to do is identify the area(s) of his overall game which, with work, would elevate his game. The good news is that he doesn't have to do that alone. The blazers have several assistant coaches and others who could help him with this. Once that's determined, it's up to him to surround himself with those people who can help him attain that goal. This could be one of the assistants or an outside trainer, such as LaMarcus had to bulk up. Then it comes down to work, and I think Nicolas is up to the challenge. The other contributing factor is confidence. I believe the more tools he has in his arsenal, the more confidence he will have on offense.
Megan asked: What year and with which players did the Blazers have their best post all-star break record?
There have been a lot of great teams in the history of the Blazers, but the answer to this question might be a bit surprising. Did the Blazer team of 1977-78 do it the season after winning the championship? Was it the 1990-91 team who posted a Blazers-best season record of 63-19 do it? how about the 1999-00 team who reached the NBA finals? None of the above. The all-star game date has fluctuated from early January to mid-February in the 41 seasons Portland has had the Blazers, which translates into a varying number of games played after the all-star break In some years about half the games were played after the break, and in other years as few as a third. To break this down most accurately, winning percentage was used. To determine the best record after the all-star break, we only have to go back two seasons to 2008-09. That team posted a 22-8 record after the break, good for a .733 percentage. This is the season Greg played 61 games, and Brandon and LaMarcus were pacing the team. Percentage-wise, not far behind was the 1989-90 team at .722. In third was the 1999-00 squad at .707. The Blazers went 24-10 three different times (1990-91, 1996-97 and 2001-02). Interestingly enough, last season's injury riddled team posted a post-break record of 19-8 and .704 percentage. The highest number of wins was in 1987-88 with 27.
Teresa asked: In which year did the Blazers have the most all-star participants?
This question basically has two answers because the event has turned from a game to a weekend over the years, with several events added (and subracted). Portland has had three players represent the western conference in two different all-star games. The first was in 1978 with Maurice Lucas, Bill Walton and Lionel Hollins. The second was in 1991 with Clyde Drexler, Terry Porter and Kevin Duckworth. The Blazers were the only team from either conference to be represented by three players that year. In the same year, Portland had three players involved in the three-point shootout (of eight overall participants); Drexler, Porter and Danny Ainge. Drexler was eliminated in the first round, with Porter and Ainge advancing to the semifinals. Porter made it to the finals, only to fall short to Chicago's Craig Hodges. All in all, the 1991 all-star weekend was probably the most successful showing for the Blazers, as they were represented by six entries.
It was pretty interesting looking into all of the questions posed; so much so, I may endeavor to do it again.