I was listening to Colin Cowherd's show "The Herd" on ESPN radio on my way to work this morning. He was conducting what I consider what of his best telephone interviews ever - Kobe Bryant. Cowherd asked all the right questions, including those regarding this year's Lakers team and their current struggles. It then dawned on me that the Lakers currently have the exact same record as Portland - 14-11.
Cowherd asked Bryant about the team's current standing in the Western Conference and how he thought things could turn out. To roughly paraphrase, Bryant said he was not that worried about where the team was at this point and that they would get it figured out. Granted, nobody in their right mind is going to admit their team doesn't have a chance, but it reminded me of the situation the Blazers are in after losing two of their last three games in heartbreaking, gut-wrenching fashion.
The Lakers are notorious for starting slow - relative to elite teams - but they always seem to turn it around and kick it into high gear in the second half of the season, and especially come playoff time. Last year was the exception, but you get my drift. Under great coaching and one of the best leaders and most hard-working players in basketball, the Lakers strengthen as the season goes on. Portland can do the same thing.
There are teams that are struggling due to a lack of talent or youth; Portland is not one of these teams.
You saw a team a couple nights ago a team that won the Super Bowl that was once 7-7 heading into the final two weeks of the season. Yes, the World Champion New York Giants were 7-7 with two weeks to go.
I still think of this Blazer team as sleeping Giants, if you will. Wesley Matthews, Jamal Crawford, NCAA champion Raymond Felton, to name a few, are way too talented to continue to struggle like they are. Charles Barkley himself said this Portland team was the best in the West. Is that true now? Probably not. But you don't get that label on accident or due to luck.
I'm still excited about this team's potential. There's too many talented players that have it together where it counts, mentally and work ethic, to not get it figured out. LaMarcus Aldridge is very determined to become that closer. Aldridge has already proven he knows how to take the next step in his game. Gerald Wallace wants to get better on the road. You know what Jamal Crawford can do when his role is solidified.
Compare this Portland team in terms of talent, ability and chemistry and
potential to some of the teams just a game or two above Portland -
Houston, Utah, Denver, and maybe even the Lakers this year - and you
tell me what they might be capable of.