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It would be fair to say that the Blazers are on a hot roll. Winning 7 of their last 10 games, and 7 of their last 8 with the lone loss this past Wednesday to the Lakers in a game that should have been won. Despite all the injuries, and even the loss of 3 players (due to the trade for Wallace), the Blazers have found a way to "Win The Day". A motto from Oregon Ducks head coach Chip Kelly that Patty Mills has adopted.
On Thursday, the Blazers made a surprising trade with the Charlotte Bobcats which landed Gerald Wallace in Portland for Joel Pryzbilla, Dante' Cunningham, Sean Marks, and two first round draft picks. Immediately, Charlotte released Sean Marks and with Joel and Dante's contracts expiring at the end of the year. It's very possible the Blazers have acquired Wallace for nothing more than two first round draft picks (which have lottery protection).
It's no surprise to anyone that Joel isn't excited about the trade. With rumors or retirement, buy outs, and an expiring contract. It's not out of the question that Joel could make his way back to the city he loves and has been apart of for nearly seven years in as little as 30 days. The required time a player has to wait after a buy out before returning to his previous team. Which means we could possible have Joel back before the playoffs, and in my opinion, we could use him.
With the loss of Joel, Dante', and Sean, to trade. And Camby and Oden still fighting back from injuries. Portland finds itself even more short handed at the center position than before. Who would have thought that possible earlier in the season? With the new roster, the Blazers have only one true center in Greg Oden. A player who may or may not ever return to full health and make it through a full NBA season. Without Oden active, the Blazers peak height is 6'11" in Aldridge and Canby. Both players that can slide into the center roll (I mean other Power Forward spot) but would be more valuable in the power forward position. Marcus Camby makes a great center for our squad, but when it comes to needing a big body on some of the bigger centers in the NBA, Camby could use a little help. For the past years, that has been the roll of Joel Pryzbilla or Greg Oden. Two players that we currently do not have the luxury of using.
Now, let's think about the future realistically. Let's imagine that Oden continues to have issues with the knees for the next year. Playing minimal minutes and games. Let's also say that either in 30 days, or at the start of next season we get Joel back. And now with Roy back and looking healthy (but continuing to be monitored with minutes). Think about the strength and depth the Blazers would have. Think about all of the possible lineups the Blazers could run. Here are a few ideas on lineups.
PG- Andre Miller
SG- Wesley Matthews
PF- Lamarcus Aldridge
PF- Gerald Wallace
C - Marcus Camby
Now, I listed two power forwards because I think instead of running Wallace at the small forward spot, I think you could run him at the other Power Forward position. Since Camby doesn't tend to post up or stay at the bottom of the key during the offense, why not run two power forwards and let them each post up on either side of the hoop. It would open up a lot more post shots for Aldridge and make double teaming him very dangerous.
PG- Rudy Fernandez and Patty Mills
SG- Brandon Roy and Rudy Fernandez
SF- Nicolas Batum
PF- Luke Babbitt (though you would probably just trade between Aldridge and Wallace)
C - Joel Pryzbilla
A month ago, I would of said Mills would be the second point guard but during this past month, Rudy has stepped up a lot with his passing plays. So that position could be alternated between the two. Until Roy's minutes are no longer monitored, Rudy could slide over to the SG position while Patty could take over the PG spot when Roy's minutes are getting high. As far as the bench PF, Luke Babbitt would be the true bench PF but not very often would he need to play at the moment. Aldridge and Wallace would be more than capable of splitting the bench unit's PF spot giving each of them rest when needed. Take a moment to look at those names on the second unit. Most of those names were players that have been a constant part of the starting unit. When you can have players like Brandon Roy, Nicolas Batum, and Joel Pryzbilla as your secondary, not to mention the high caliber players in Rudy and Patty. You have a strong and deep team.
PG: Patty Mills
SG: Rudy Fernandez
SF: Wesley Matthews
PF: Lamarcus Aldridge
PF: Gerald Wallace
Portland likes to run three guards quite often, and when you have players like Mills, Fernandez, and Matthews who have a high percentage 3-point shot, why not. In this unit, the defense would be spread far and wide. Patty would take the point while Rudy and Wesley took the wings. Making the defense have to play out to prevent the 3 point shot. During this time, Aldridge and Wallace would be posting up on either side of the hoops. This would give them a lot of room to make their moves inside. If at any point they are double teamed, it means that a 3 point shooter is wide open to take the shot or that the other power forward is posting up at the hoop without a man on him. Easy buckets.
PG: Miller, Fernandez, Mills, Johnson
SG: Matthews, Roy, Williams
SF: Wallace, Batum
PF: Aldridge, Babbitt
C: Camby, Pryzbilla, Oden
Look at that depth, especially when you consider that nearly every player can play at least two spots on the court. These line ups are also before we even have Oden active. Just think of the possibilities Portland has once Oden comes back. Championship Run? Maybe. It would be safe to say that the Blazers would have the personnel and talent to play with any team in the NBA.
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