Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Here Comes Portland

1) Portland wins lottery. 2) Portland uses #1 pick draft Greg Oden. 3)Therefore, Portland is now a title contender waiting to happen. That's how great of a player Greg Oden is going to be (and already is). One truly great player (particularly Center) can change a teams fortunes immediately, particularly when the player is as unselfish as Greg Oden. With him and their existing core, the Blazers have the foundation to go deep into the playoffs, maybe as soon as next season.

Greg Oden is 7'1'' 260lb but seems even bigger on the court, if that's possible. And he possess many other attributes on top of the size: Explosive hops and flexible legs, great hands (soft and strong on offense and for rebounding, hammer-like usage on defense), high shoulders and long arms, speed of a small forward, quality and improving post moves, soft touch in the paint and at the line, giant court presence at all times, unselfish, quiet fire to win, likable personality. Bottom line: the best NBA prospect since Tim Duncan (with the potential to be better than TD, he's a better athlete).

The Portland cupboard was looking well-stocked even before the addition of Oden. Now it is simply overflowing. Brandon Roy looks like a 10 year rock in the backcourt. Not a true PG, but similar to Deron Williams and the late Dennis Johnson with his bulldozer strength to get in the paint, rock solid defense and winning court presence. LaMarcus Aldridge is tremendously springy for a 7 footer, with a nice touch and a fundamentally sound defensive and rebounding game. Winning court demeanor is a positive, but heart condition makes him a tainted prospect. Zach Randolph had better REALLY shape up now or the Blazers will look to ship him out. Though improved last season, Randolph must now realize it his not his show and learn to fit in around Oden and Roy. Still, his bruising frame, quick feet and immaculate hands make him a rare NBA commodity: 20 points, 10 rebounds. Don't disregard their other pieces either. Jarret Jack can be a low-level starting PG in the NBA (whether that's actually a compliment is another story). Martell Webster has a big time stroke and a solid frame, but he needs to learn the other phases of the game. Joel Pryzbilla is a serviceable big man off the bench and Travis Outlaw can change a game with his shot blocking and free-throw inducing drives to the hoop.

Their mojo lost after the infamous Game 7 loss to the Lakers in West Finals back in 2000, the Blazers are back with a vengeance. They should be a title contender by 2009 or 2010.

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