Tray Blazers

Tray Pearce

Jan 31

Through 20 Games

By Tray Pearce
Through 20 games we seen a team that looks like it could be a contender in the Western Conference, we also seen a team that looks like its only been together for 20 games. The lackluster play on the road, the dismal 4th quarter performance, shooting slumps, and turnovers! Did I mention Turnovers?

Centers:  Marcus Camby/Kurt Thomas/Chris Johnson
I would have to say that Camby and Kurt Thomas has been a solid combo at the center, there playing much younger than there age of 37 and 39 respectively. Camby has been great on the boards, and the backbone of the defense, Thomas has has been solid, an effective pick n pop player that plays hard nose defense and is not afraid to mix it up inside. Chris Johnson in limited minutes, has looked lost in my opinion has regressed after last years break out season.
Forwards: LaMarcus Aldridge, Gerald Wallace, Nic Batum, Luke Babbit
This is the Blazers position of strength on a nightly basis. So much versatility, they can go inside to L.A who has put up career numbers so far, Gerald Walllace All Star in the Rose Garden on the road is another story Ill go in detail on that later. Nic was/is by far the most ready physically for the season entering camp. He's Portland's most versatile defender, able to guard 3 positions, and has shown some highlight worthy plays but has also looked very average on many nights, Luke Babbitt kills D-league competition but in spot duty for the Blazers has looked lost defensively, and his offensive game is 1dimesional. 
GRADE: A(LaMarcus)

Guards: Raymond Felton, Wesley Matthews, Jamal Crawford, Elliot Williams, Nolan Smith, Armon Johnson
On paper it looks like a great mix, with the Speedy Felton, the hard nosed style of Matthews, Super 6th man Jamal Crawford, and the youth of Elliott, Nolan, and Armon Johnson. That's on paper on the court has been another story, Felton is off too a slow start at this point and his defense is ahead of his offense and Felton has never been known for his defense. Matthews has been in a shooting slump not surprising since he has not been know to be a spot up shooter. Jamal Crawford can shoot you in a game, as well as shoot you out of a game, that's not the problem his decision making and turnovers are. Smith, Williams, Johnson has not had many opportunities to prove themselves but with the up and down play of the players in front of them they may get a chance sooner than they think.
Grade: C

Coaching: Nate has sped up the pace to create easier scoring opportunities, and the Blazers average points per game is up, shot attempts over 48 minutes is up, but with the increased scoring opportunities comes the risk of more turnovers, and turning the ball over is what they have been doing. That's not Nate's fault that's on the players and it starts with the PG i.e Felton. With little practice time, and the condensed schedule has made Nate has to tinker line ups on the fly.
Grade: B+/A

My Assessment: I expected going into the season the Blazers would be in the upper echelon in the Western Conference, and despite everything I'm going to say I do believe this has the potential to do something special.Saying Raymond Felton has been a BIG disappointment so far, is an understatement. He looks out of shape, out of control at times, and has had some costly turnovers. For someone in a Contract year, who was drafted behind fellow 05 draft mates Chris Paul, and Derron Williams allot more was expected. Sure he put up descent numbers as the man running the show in Charlotte, New York, and in a reserve role for Denver. Charlotte he did not have the expectations to have to win, and perform every night.In New York he put up good numbers in D'Antoni system but New York was expected to be an 8th seed at best in the east, and when he got traded to Denver he was in a less pressured reserve scenario. Now he is apart of an organization that expects to win on a nightly basis, a playoff team, and the pressure seems to be getting to him. By not reporting to camp in top notched shape and ready to lead a playoff team is coming back to haunt him. Believe it or not he is about his career averages for turnovers, its the turnovers in big moments of the game that's killing the Blazers, marred in his own season long shooting slump his play has been the center of attention as it should be. The PG is the leader of the team, the gasoline in a engine, the coach on the floor so to speak and his play has a direct effect on the whole team. I also see his inconsistent play has a trickle down effect on the rest of the team: The ineffectiveness of Wallace on the road, the inability to get Wes in positions where he is slashing to the bucket and not a spot up shooting, not being able to get the Jamal in the places he needs to be effective, not being able to tell L.A we need you to go down low go get us 2 big fella. He seems to be pressing and not letting the game come to him, he looks uncomfortable out on the floor. In the end the Blazers will go as far as Felton leads them! I do believe/EXPECT that he will turn it around the question is how long will it take him?? The Blazers need/expect more from him, let's just hope it starts at game #21 err game #22. 


  1. i keep hearing people say Ray is still fitting in, but imo it has taken longer than i would have anticipated. interestingly enough, beginning in just the last couple of games, he's looked good. hopefully injury doesn't stifle his play going forward. i would mention that in the forwards, you left out a key guy -- Craig Smith. the Rhino has been excellent in his time on the floor, and has enabled Nate to rest LaMarcus for longer periods.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 2/6/2012 3:25 PM
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