So Far, So Good: Thoughts After Two Weeks
By Choong Huh Posted in: Blazers, Pistons
Couple weeks into the season, I observed some interesting things happening in the season. There are things I like, and things I don't like. Here are some bullet-points.
- Portland has been very impressive this season in dodging injuries so far.
Lets take a look at some of the notable injuries.
- Derrick Rose, Ricky Rubio and Chauncey Billups are still out from last season's season-ending ACL / Achilles tear. Dallas is without Dirk Nowitzki and missed Chris Kaman for the opening week. San Antonio had injury issues with Manu, and the fresh news says Kawhi Leonard will be out for some time. Lakers point guards have their hands full with their injuries. Danny Granger will be out 3 months. Knicks are missing Amare Stoudemire for 8 weeks, and Chandler is playing through illness. 76ers have yet to play Andrew Bynum. Raptors have injured new players Kyle Lowry and Landry Fields. Warriors, who lost Brandon Rush for the season, are still being extremely careful with playing Bogut / Curry. Timberwolves have their starting core gutted, as Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and Nikola Pekovic are all missing time due to injury (+ Brandon Roy and Chase Budinger). Gerald Wallace has missed two weeks so far because of a tweaked ankle from the Brooklyn season opener (aren't you glad we made that trade?). Washington Wizards star guard John Wall still has over a month left in his recovery, along with Nene whose return is yet to be determined. Dwyane Wade is again in and out of pain. There is a talk that Eric Gordon may miss another season......
WOW! That's a huge list!
With Portland playing the starters around 40 minutes per game, I am shocked to not find any of them in the injury talks. Wesley and LaMarcus are playing through minor injuries, but they aren't very significant. So far into the season, it looks like the mean injury bugs have left us be.
New York Knicks could be this season's Arizona Cardinals
-The only undefeated team left in the NBA is surprisingly the injury-plagued New York Knicks. Despite their thin front-court, the team has found ways to win big. They defeated the Heat without problem, and rallied to beat the Spurs. To me, this is the strangest result of all, and I do expect them to stop winning at some point. Their roster just isn't built for a championship, especially when Amare Stoudemire taking up so much of the salary cap. I am hearing the trade rumors that may send Stoudemire + @ to D'Antoni's Lakers in exchange to Pau Gasol. This team must make moves. Although Raymond Felton is playing the best season of his career, the Knicks cannot expect this success level to hold up long term with Landry Fields and Jeremy Lin replaced by old veterans Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas. In fact, I already bet 5 bucks that the Knicks will lose tonight to......
Memphis Grizzlies is a team to watch
....these guys. Have you seen them play this season? You could call the Miami Heat game a fluke, as Wayne Ellington drained multiple treys out of nowhere to beat the defending champions by double digits. But the OKC Thunder game showed all you needed to be convinced that this team is a contender. Zach Randolph is focused, and leading the league in rebounds. Marc Gasol is more versatile than ever, as he dribbles, passes, and plays post like Arvydas Sabonis. Rudy Gay is playing with a superstar's confidence, knocking down consecutive well-defended jumpers over 6' 10'' Kevin Durant while mercilessly attacking the rim. Mike Conley hasn't been impressive, but he still holds his own as one of the league's elite point guard. The bench has been great, with Wayne Ellington, Marreese Speights, Quincy Pondexter and Jerryd Bayless all playing so well. I still love my Blazers, but I hopped on the Grizzlies bandwagon this season....
Charlotte Bobcats have a winning record [4-3]
This was really shocking to me. I thought this team would again start horribly, say 1 - 6 at best. The roster is sadly thin, and I saw no difference from the last season's roster besides Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. 4 to 3?! They beat Indiana Pacers in the season opener, lost three in a row and then won three in a row, defeating Mavs (good), Wizards (well, horrible) and Timberwolves (5-2 at the moment!). Kemba Walker, who I dropped in the first week to pick up Omer Asik for my fantasy league team, is playing out of his mind. MKG is starting to blossom, and Ramon Sessions is turning out to be a great addition. The new coach Mike Dunlap has done a great job so far. Lets see if this continues.
Portland needs to make a deal immediately.
This is the main reason for the posting.
Portland is currently a 3-5 team, but we could easily be a 5-3 team had the bench held its own against Atlanta and San Antonio. I believe the organization is being unfair, matching up the most inexperienced bench in the league with some of the best benches in the league. The office may have been too concerned in gathering young talents, and now they are being humiliated night by night. I was playing with ESPN Trade Machine, and devised up a trade.
Portland trades: Luke Babbit, Nolan Smith, Elliot Williams , 2013 second round pick from Boston Celtics and cash consideration
Detroit Pistons trades: Will Bynum and Austin Daye
The salaries match up just enough. Portland takes in about $2 M of salaries. All contracts are expiring after this season.
I think this trade would help Portland immensely if made immediately. Both players are capable bench players who have played heavy minutes and taken on scoring roles before. The rebuilding Pistons, suffering from bad contracts of Charlie Villanueva and Corey Maggette, would gladly trade away the players for a fair financial relief.
This trade is worth trading away a pick (or even two, both which we acquired by exchanging Pavlovic with Jon Diebler), not only because the returning talent is so great, but also because we have too many young player to be using more draft picks come next draft. Those picks must be used to develop the current roster. With the experienced players playing alongside, our rookies will play with more confidence and relief. Being forced into bad lineups and outplayed by more experienced players every night is not the right way to develop Meyers Leonard, Joel Freeland, Victor Claver and Will Barton.
If this trade is made now, Portland will 1) relieve the heavy minutes of the starters, 2) form a much formidable bench at a low cost, and 3) may actually end up taking the 8th spot in the western conference. Our starting lineup has done a tremendous job, keeping Portland playing well against some of the top teams. If the team does not act now, we may never know what the final win - loss could really have been. This team is capable of so much more.