By RipCityVice Posted in: 2012draft, big3, Blazers, Celtics, freeagency, HasheemThabeet, Heat, JamalCrawford, LaMarcusAldridge, Nets, NicolasBatum, RaymondFelton, Spurs, Thunder, WesleyMatthews
Pierce, Garnett, Rondo, Allen.
James, Wade, Bosh.
Durant, Westbrook, Harden.
Duncan, Parker, Ginobili.
Whatever your opinion on any of these teams, love 'em, hate 'em, they are all championship quality. Built for it. Skilled for it. Ready for it.
Analysts always talk about the "Big 3" with good teams. The most recent string of this talk began with Boston when they put together an eventual championship team composed of three perennial all-stars in Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen). That's when the idea caught on the radar big time. The Spurs have had the same core of players since the early 2000's, and have won 3 championships, one without "The Admiral," the legend David Robinson. Most notoriously, the Miami Heat brought in various "talents to South Beach" in LeBron James and Chris Bosh to a roster that already had all-star and franchise player Dwyane Wade, among other "good enough" pieces, the Mario Chalmers' and Udonis Haslem's. This teams has yet to win a championship, and as of the time of this post are not out of the playoffs yet, down 3-2 to the aforementioned Celtics.
Right now, the biggest deal in the NBA has to be the Seattle Sup- er, the Oklahoma City Thunder. In what is a trying time for the Pacific Northwest, the Thunder enter the 2012 NBA Finals on a roll (pun somewhat intended) winning four straight against a Spurs team that had won over 20 games consecutively until OKC took Game 3 and didn't look back. Their big 3 is most often considered to be two starters in Kevin Durant and Russel Westbrook and the Sixth Man of the Year, James Harden. Not Serge Ibaka, not Thabo Sefolosha, not 75 year-old Nazr Mohammed (as Brian Wheeler would say), but the best bench player and beard in the league.
A matter of days ago, new Trail Blazers General Manger Neil Olshey mentioned the Trail Blazers as an organization "to be feared." Whether he thinks that is the case as it is right now, or when he's through with the offseason is unclear. Right now, the closest player to being a vital memeber of a championship team is 27-year old LaMarcus Aldridge. LaMarcus, once part of a Big 3 scheme in the organization, saw that scheme come to an end this past season, with perennial all-star and franchise saviour Brandon Roy retire due to injury and amnestied, and 2007 #1 draft pick Greg Oden finally waived by the Trail Blazers.
Aldridge now has the reigns on the team, but needs a lot of help coming to him this offseason if the plan is to become "fearful." All the teams in the conference finals have at least 3 invaluable players they need to win it all. The Celtics and Spurs have proven it, the Heat and Thunder could soon. LaMarcus has good players, but not great ones around him. Don't get me wrong, I love my Blazers to no end (even putting up with Felton and Thabeet). There is still a ways to go as far as the retooling goes. The most solid pieces Aldridge, the lone all-star, has around him are Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews. This past season, it seemed as though Aldridge was the one player you could count on for effort every game, while Nic and Wes had some streaks. I view Nic and Wes as solid pieces this team does need, but at the same time are seen as valuable targets to other teams. Wesley is one hard worker and a blooming leader, and Nic has the potential to be the next Scottie Pippen. Jamal Crawford, my main man (a la Ahmad Rashad), was also brought in (by his choice), but unfortunately had his worst statistical season since his rookie campaign and is now on his own as a free agent, as he is not taking on his player option.
There is no more Big 3 in PDX. The question now is, do those pieces come in this offseason? Does Portland, under a new GM and head coach, acquire those big 2 they need to compliment LaMarcus? The scenario that everyone in Portland is talking about has to do with the two lottery picks (one acquired from Brooklyn via the Gerald Wallace trade, thanks Gerald!) and the amount of cap space, which could be as much as $20 million. The draft is still considered deep enough, and the free agent market is at a relatively high level. Deron Williams, Steve Nash, Goran Dragic, Aaron Brooks, Jason Kidd, Allen, Eric Gordon, Michael Redd, Wallace, Garnett, Elton Brand, Brook and Robin Lopez, Roy Hibbert, former Trail Blazer Jermaine O'Neal, just to name fifteen.
Is the missing big 2 in there? Maybe one? Perhaps one or both is in the draft (not likely, I agree). The Trail Blazers have talent, just not near enough to win a playoff series at the moment. Portland fans are smart. They know this stuff. They know when changes need to be made and help needs to come. They know what's out there. I can only speak for myself in saying I have all my faith in Paul Allen, Larry Miller, and Neil Olshey, the front office of the Trail Blazers. I'm also deciding to put some responsibility on LaMarcus, as the all-star and anchor of the organization, to be a recruiter. Pierce was already in Boston. Wade was already in Miami. If this is truly is a retool and not a rebuild, which I believe is true, then this is the time to shine and deliver. Aldridge is one of the best 4's in the NBA, and that alone should stand out as a reason for at least one big name to put Portland on their list.
At least we can safely say 1 down, 2 to go.