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AustinRaz

Apr 08

A Midsummer Blazers Dream (Contest Entry)

By AustinRaz Posted in: blogcontest, contest, list, wish

Rip City had so much hope and promise to look to as the 2011-12 season began.  Yet now in the last month of the regular season, the organization finds itself on the brink of being completely torn.  Rumors swirling of Paul Allen putting the team up for sale. Felton insisting his naysayers meet him outside of his Pearl District home.  Nate, the man who recovered this franchise, is brought to tears and forced to resign.  Where do you go from here?

The front office is looking to the future, and from a fans perspective, it could not be brighter.  The bold trade of a fan favorite in
Gerald Wallace for a first round draft pick was the first domino in fixing Portland’s woes.  Almost three weeks have gone by since the blow up at the deadline, and even though The Blazers are on the cusp of exiting the playoff picture, there is still so much buzz around the city.  The Rose City is still hanging on.  Luke Babbitt is coming into his own and becoming a huge bench factor, J.J. Hickson is a human highlight reel night in and night out, and Batum is actually starting to show the tenacity the fans have been begging for.  However, this exciting roster still has its drawbacks and is glaringly slim in certain positions.
First thing is first, the captain of the ship, Mr. Kaleb Canales.  His record with the Blazers thus far is 7-7 (the best of any Blazers interim coach) and he is slowly proving that he can hang with some of the big dog’s of the NBA.  Giving him any sort of long term deal at this point, however, is still a little premature.  By the end of the season we should have a much better feel for what he can do, but as of now its evident that the players love to play for him.  Its special watching them interact with one another, theres an obvious level of mutual respect from everyone.  Even Gerald Wallace, who was traded away, approached Canales before the tip and paid his dues. It’s a heart warming story, but perhaps the front office should look into som
e of the free agent coaches.

A few wil
d possibilities, and names that come up frequently in dream scenarios are Jerry Sloan, Phil Jackson, and Mike D’Antoni.  Its wishful thinking, but only one really seems plausible.  Jerry Sloan, former Hall of Fame Utah Jazz coach, would ruin any shot at landing Deron Williams in free agency.  Sure, he could probably flip this franchise around and really groom the young talent on the roster, but it would be too large of a risk just throwing in the towel in the hunt for Williams.  Lets be honest, Phil Jackson is not leaving his peaceful life of retirement in Montana to come revive the Blazers.  D’Antoni, however, is a very interesting possibility.  D’Antoni was very successful with Raymond Felton in New York, and he might be a good enough reason to hang on to Felton for one more year and see what he can do without a lockout.  He also had some of the best seasons of his career coaching for The Suns with Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire.  D’Antoni could be the leverage that draws Nash to Portland, and could turn Aldridge and Nash into something very special.

The gaping hole in the Portland roster isn’t necessarily the coaching position, its the lack of a dominant, or at least a youthful Center.  Some notable big men that will become free agents this summer are Omer Asik, Ian Mahinmi, Chris Kaman, and Louis Amundsun.  Mahinmi and Asik appear to have the most upside, and both come from championship contenders.  Omer Asik, a former Blazers draft pick, plays behind Joakim Noah and in his limited minutes his presence is more than felt.  Asik is known as a shot blocker and his surprising energy for a seven footer.  Ian Mahinmi, of the Dallas Mavericks, is also a bench player and continues to improve each game.  He plays behind Brendan Haywood, and like Asik, when he comes onto the floor he brings his all.  Mahinmi is from France, and played in Batum’s exhibition game that he organized during the lockout this summer.  Batum and Mahinmi teaming up could create some awesome chemistry, and would be a great fit.
Besides signing a Center this summer we could always pick a top prospect up with one of our two first round draft picks.  As of now, two Centers that could potentially fall to us are Sullinger from Ohio State, and Zeller out of North Carolina.  We all remember the last time we drafted a Center from Ohio State, so ownership might keep that knot out of Rip City’s stomachs.  The best case scenario of the draft would be for the Nets Pick to land 4th overall in the lottery, giving us the best choice of talent in one of the deepest draft classes in a long time.


On the opposite end of the floor, the floor general position is lacking in a big way.  Raymond Felton is putting up good numbers as of late, but isn’t getting things done in crunch time.  The Blazers struggle horribly in close games, and we need someone to step up.  Jonny Flynn has great energy coming off the bench and has a great attitude about playing that role, but he’s not the answer.  There are two glaring answers this summer in free agency, Steve Nash and Deron Williams.  Another notable is Aaron Brooks, but I just don’t see him being the leader we need.  Nash and Williams would help guide this team in late game situations and rally them when we need it most.  Williams has the most positives since he is far younger than Nash, and much more of an offensive threat to take the heat off of Aldridge.  Teams would be forced to pick which player to double team, and the two All-Stars are automatic from just about anywhere.  This would leave the floor open to Babbitt, Crawford, Elliot Williams, and whoever else wants to join in and rain threes.  Nash would also fit great, he could be the leader we need on the court and in the locker room.  Aldridge has made it clear through his play that he isn’t ready to be ‘Batman’ yet, and this young team needs someone to look to.  Nolan Smith quietly sits on the bench most games, and has so much potential.  Acquiring Nash would not only add a huge threat offensively, but give the younger guards one of the best mentors in the game.

All of this is speculation and wishful thinking, but every Blazer fan can agree that adding another star and some quality depth is just what the doctor ordered.  The dream roster, that is also realistic, would read: 

Head Coach- Mike D’Antoni Assistant Coach- Kaleb Canales
Point Guards- Deron Williams, Jonny Flynn, and Nolan Smith
Shooting Guards- Jamal Crawford, Wesley Matthews, and Elliot Williams
Small Forward- Nicolas Batum, Luke Babbitt, and Harrison Barnes
Power Forward- Lamarcus Aldridge, J.J. Hickson, and Craig Smith
Center- Ian Mahinmi, Omer Asik, and Tyler Zeller


Now that is a team that would make a splash in the headlines and could make one heck of a playoff run.  Powered by two of the most underrated players in the game, Aldridge and D. Williams, even The Bulls defense will have a hard time keeping up.  The bench squad alone, if healthy, could take most playoff contenders on any given night.  Elliot Williams, Harrison Barnes, Omer Asik and J.J. Hickson would bring a ludicrous amount of energy off the bench.  All this youth is perfect for D’Antoni’s fast paced system.  Paul Allen if you are out there, please bring this amazing fan base the chance it deserves at bringing home a second title to Rip City.



3 Comments

  1. This is my favorite blog among the entries so far (excepting my own of course!! lol). I appreciate how you broke down each player and noted why they would/wouldn't be the best fit. Though I don't necessarily agree with all the pieces of your roster or your coach, the argument you've made is very logical and done so convincingly. That roster is pretty decent too, and the front court is very good. And yes, I think we are all on the same page about needing another star to compliment the talented core the team already has. Great read!

    by SisillaRiann on 4/8/2012 12:38 PM
  2. Thanks EA! There's so many possibilities of what could happen this summer I could go on and on. It'll be one exciting off season though, and hopefully in our favor!

    by AustinRaz on 4/8/2012 1:05 PM
  3. Jeez, if the Blazers blow this off-season...what an absolute embarrassment. They HAVE to go hard for the best two players available, in any way they can, without giving up the core. Any good/promising players already here that they can keep (like JJ, Elliot, Nolan, etc.) will be gravy. Perhaps the most potentially exciting off-season since they got the #1 pick in 2007

    by SisillaRiann on 4/8/2012 1:08 PM
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