sarahhecht

Dec 02

Portland’s New Guards Drive To Debut

By sarahhecht
The offseason is in the rearview mirror and it’s time to slam on the gas and move full-speed ahead into oodles of basketball. Behind the wheel of the Portland Trail Blazers is Raymond Felton, a fresh face to squad. The experienced starting point guard was tossed the keys in a 2011 draft-day trade.

During the 2010-2011 season the 6-1 floor general bounced among three cities. He started the year with the New York Knicks and was traded to the Denver Nuggets as part of the landmark deal that landed Carmelo Anthony in the Big Apple. After a short stint in the Mile High City he was headed to Portland in a move that sent Andre Miller to Denver and Rudy Fernandez to the Dallas Mavericks.

With the swap that brought Felton to the City of Roses occurring after the season ended, Blazermaniacs have yet to see him play with his new teammates. But that’s not to say the savvy basketball fans of Portland haven’t done their research. Numerous YouYube videos, blog posts and tweets have surfaced with montages of great plays and heavy discussions hyping up the soon to be starter.

Trading for Felton wasn’t an exchange made out of the blue for Portland. He’d been on the radar of the Trail Blazers brass for quite some time and was heavily targeted during free agency last year. When he arrived in Portland to be introduced to the city last summer head coach Nate McMillan raved about the acquisition.

“We’re getting Felton in his prime, where I think he still has room to grow and improve,” McMillan said. “We’re hoping that we catch him at the right time and he has a team that he can grow with, create that style of play and have some success here.”

Prime. That was s word used to describe Felton not only by McMillan but also Trail Blazers Interim General Manager Chad Buchanan who feels he “matches up with a lot of the guys on our roster.”

For a team that’s had a run of point guards since the 10-season led stretch of Terry Porter in the early 90s, the prospect of a younger veteran to build around is exciting. As is the up-tempo leader’s game. Felton’s style may be a bit of a change for Portland fans used to the slower-paced style the Trail Blazers have shown under McMillan. The man likes to run. A fact that lead to the idea a modified offense will take shape heading into the 2011-2012 season.

Another addition to the back-court depth chart is first round draft pick Nolan Smith. A combo-guard out of Duke University, Smith stepped into the point guard role for the Blue Devils last year after Kyrie Irving fell to injury.

Smith’s ability to assume the spot on the fly, and lead perennial NCAA tournament contender Duke, spoke volumes to his ability to adapt and succeed in a variety of situations. Talented off the dribble, off pick and rolls and a solid spot up shooter, he has McMillan itching to see where the rookie will fit.

“I think his versatility allows us to do a couple things,” McMillan said. “I think Smith can play with Felton, I think Smith can play with Brandon, he can play with Wesley. So he can play with the ball and he can also play off the ball. That should give us some versatility with him.”

Next Friday, December 9th, training camps are expected to open and the Trail Blazers coaching staff will begin to mold the offensive and defensive systems to include the new faces. Just ten days later the remolded back-court will take the floor at the Rose Garden for the first time as the first of two preseason games against the Utah Jazz breaks the offseason drought.

For now we sit back, soak in all the NBA news and get ready to buckle up for a season speeding closer every day. A season with new faces sure to alter the Trail Blazers road ahead.

9 Comments

  1. Thank you again Miss Sarah:

    Hey I read some bad stuff of OR-live as in a fight going on between the Blazers and BRoy. Is it true or is it just more trouble stirring trouble from the OR-live. OK don't answer the last part LOL? re-read your yesterday's blog and didn't read any of the things that was on OR-live, Was there another interview?

    I am looking forward to Felton and Smith added Nate being excited makes me excited. He thinks Smith and BRoy can match up as in Blake and BRoy, and I am thinking that as a duo coming in on the second unit. Only with BRoy's knees he can be the outside specialist and Smith can be the work horse.

    Anyway that sounds good to me.

    Thanks again. Oh have I ever told you that I am getting excited.

    PS. I can accept the possibility of BRoy being a amnesty victim it is the fighting that worries me.

    by Hg on 12/2/2011 8:45 AM
  2. very cool, Sarah! and doesn't it feel good to be talking about current players again?!

    i like both of these guys, but we are still guard-heavy and that concerns me. i'll go one step further than Hg here ... it's likely one of the team's guards won't be with us by opening night. right now there's Brandon, Wesley, Elliot, Raymond, Nolan, Armon and John Diebler -- and that's assuming Patty can't make it over from china. i think this could hurt Brandon's chances of remaining with the blazers even a little bit more than just his heavy contract.

    what we've found out over the past couple of seasons is that we need to stock up on some bigs. if we go three-deep at the guard positions, we would have room to do so.

    um ... back to Raymond and Nolan. i think Raymond will compliment the guys we have, such as Wesley, Crash and LaMarvelous. i like the idea of playing more up-tempo; imo, the slow-down game hurt us last year in some games. Nolan, at least from what i've seen, could be a quality guy as a backup holding down the fort in the second unit. regardless, it should be interesting!

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 12/2/2011 11:25 AM
  3. Go blazers

    by Miller on 12/2/2011 11:24 AM
  4. @KMM, Patty can't come back until March, Diebler has already been assigned to a Euopean team, IMO, Smith will make Armon expendable but right now I don't think Williams can make BRoy expendable, but I agree his high salary does hurt his chances. (read my reply to you on MB's blog)
    I totally agree on our need for a bigs, but I haven't given up on Greg, Chris Johnson has my attention and I am still hoping for Babbitt. If Babbitt can't produce although his price tag would be low we could use him, Armon and your choice of picks or someone for a trade for a big.We can't trade BRoy, his salary is too high so as I agree with you we need less guards and more bigs, Trade the one's we can and don't use the amnesty on BRoy next year if needed. We will have enough money to sign Joel or Pendergraph also with waiving a player.

    by Hg on 12/2/2011 11:43 AM
  5. i talked to Patty the other night via blackberry messenger. i know more than what i'm saying here but. suffice to say, he's in china for their season. he may not mind that; check out his statline from last night's game: 32 points on 12-21 shooting 3-7 3pt.), 3 assists, 2 steals and a block. his team, the Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers lost the game by 2 after having been down by as many as 20. i'm not sure where Chris Johnson is, but according to his wife's tweets, he's worked out multiple times daily and they're excited to come back to portland.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 12/2/2011 3:14 PM
  6. I hope Smith develops into a superstar since we drafted him over Faried.

    by mbmurr1 on 12/5/2011 1:50 PM
  7. @KMM:

    CJ was reported to being in the facility pumping weights.

    by Hg on 12/5/2011 2:40 PM
  8. @Hg: you know, you don't have to refer to me by my initials! :P i saw a picture somewhere online this morning where he was benching some weights. word has it he gained 18 pounds and LaMarcus says he looks bulked up a little.

    ~ KMM (the girl formerly known as Kassandra)

    by Kassandra on 12/5/2011 7:45 PM
  9. @Kassandra, KMM is just faster, but I almost got the key strokes for Kassandra memorised now. So Kassandra it will be.

    Did you get to hear the news report about BRoy being a Blazer now and at the beginning of the season and he may win his starting position back, He may start but Wesley may get the starters minutes or something like that. Anyway, I am going to BE and lurk at some of their post now. Well I may get manipulated into posting something, you know me when it comes to getting the last word in :).

    Hg

    by Hg on 12/5/2011 8:02 PM
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