Stuck in the Valley of the Mountains

Jesse Ogan

Feb 02

I am not a professional blogger nor am I a professional sports journalist but I am just your average sports fan. I prefer baseball to basketball but once you have established your own teams you often like to consider yourself an expert on that team. While, I am just a 22-year-old college student, you probably have begun to wonder how I can afford cable let alone the Comcast Sports Net channel, but luckily, I have been able to get it. What this means is that I have had the capability to watch the first 20 games of this NBA season for our beloved Trailblazers. I have seen many things from blowout losses to blowout wins. The one thing that I feel separates the Blazers from the elite at this point is their road woes.         

            As of this morning February 2, 2012, the Blazers are 13-9 on the season, 10-1 at home, 3-8 on the road, averaging 97.6 points per game (ppg) and giving up 91.3 ppg. As previously mentioned their road record is very concerning. 3-8 is respectable if the Blazer played the best of the best, but losing to teams like Detroit make it hard to consider it respectable. Another disappointing road loss was when the Blazers, on fairly fresh legs, lost to the Phoenix Suns by 30, a team they beat a few weeks later at home by more than 30.  It is not all about the road woes though; the Blazers do however have some surprise road wins. The Oklahoma Thunder is near perfect at home, that one blemish comes at the hands of the Blazers. That game saw LaMarcus Aldridge (LA) go for 30 points and 8 rebounds. That game also saw Gerald Wallace’s best road performance in 13 points and 10 rebounds. As a team, the Blazers shot 45% from the field.

            Trying not to get caught up in numbers, which we all know are boring, will show us that the Blazers are in fact doing fairly well. They have a top record in the west, and a respectable one for the entire NBA. They have quality wins over the Lakers, Clippers, Thunder, Nuggets, 76’ers, and Grizzlies; all of which are top teams in the NBA right now. The Blazer played the Hawks, Spurs and Rockets tough on the road, although the Blazers did not win those games they still came out and had decent performances. The Blazers already played a back to back to back series and went 2-1 on that series losing to Golden State, which has become a familiar sight at the end of any back-to-back series for them the past few years.  As previously mentioned they are 10-1 at home with wins over Lakers, Clipper and Nuggets, teams consider 3 of the top 5 in the Western Conference.

            Ranking the Blazers forwards, guards and centers by standard school grading, shows where the Blazer major weakness has been. The forwards would get an A grade in my book. Nicolas Batum has struggled but started to come back to life before getting hurt against Utah, LA is playing at all-star level, Wallace has been strong at home behind the fan chants but struggled on the road, and Craig Smith might have been the free agency (FA) steal of the year. The Centers get a B+, we lost Greg Oden to another year, Marcus Camby has had some strong games and Kurt Thomas has been a wonderful bench player, but holding two of the oldest big men in the game with no real future makes it hard to give them an A. The lone downfall has been the guard play as it has been sloppy and would get a grade of a D. Raymond Felton has struggled and I have not really seen him become that future guard that the Blazers need. If the Blazers are going to have a rent-a-guard, I like to see them go after Steve Nash who can get the ball to any player in the game, while providing the same point contribution as Felton(Sorry Felton). Wesley Mathews has been okay, it has been a lot to put on him since Brandon Roy retired, although no excuses. Jamal Crawford has been a great 6th man coming off the bench, I would like to see him be more consistent but you cannot argue with a strong 6th man of the year candidate.  I really have not seen enough of the rookies and young guards to grade them though.

            What it comes down to is that, I really like this Blazer team. They have a toughness that has been missing. They are getting really good play from many people. There are some things they need to fix, like guard play and road woes. If they can get a good trade for a solid point guard and start getting quality wins on the road, or at least beat teams they need to, I can easily see them finishing strong and making a serious playoff run. The question remains, will Paul Allen pull the trigger and make a run or will he just let us reset and try to build more around LA?

1 Comments

  1. i agree with most of the player assessments, though i think Jamal has been horribly inconsistent in his shooting, and Ray has taken too long to adapt to the new team (whether that's on him or Nate remains to be seen). i don't think you mess with LaMarcus. he's been solid and our only consistent player. i say we keep building around him.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 2/6/2012 3:38 PM
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