Posted on: September 27, 2010 8:07 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2010 8:09 pm
Posted by Royce Young
As suspected, it doesn't sound like Greg Oden will be ready for the beginning of the NBA season. At Portland's media day, he said simply: "I won't be there opening night." Bummer.
Oden talked at Blazer media day about having "good days and bad days" with his injured left knee. If you forget, he underwent surgery on a fractured left patella last December. And I guess you could say recovery has been somewhat slow.
Rich Cho previously said Oden was "pain-free" but Oden talked at media day about experiencing pain in the knee. Dwight Jaynes enlightens us as to what's going on: "That's before he got patellar tendinitis," Cho told Jaynes. Bummer, again.
Remember, recently a Blazers' scout said the team hoped Oden would be available for maybe 65 games this season . And while that's still obviously possible, opening night just won't be one of those games.
For whatever reason, Oden just can't seem to get healthy. Whether it's just something like patellar tendinitis or there's a larger issue involved, Oden's got knee problems. And that's not good for a seven foot big man.
It's definitely not over for Oden and he may just need some extra rest and rehab. Remember, he's just 22 and plenty of players have come back through leg and knee injuries. The fear is that there's something substantial, something with long-term effects in there. The Blazers are doing the right thing and taking everything slow. Oden says he won't be ready for opening night, but the reality may be he's not ready until December or January.
Patellar tendinitis is sometimes referred to as "jumper's knee" and is common to players in a sport that demands lots of jumping. You know, kind of like basketball. Or compeitive jump-roping. But jumper's knee can be caused by overuse, muscular imbalance, misalignment of leg bones or being overweight, among a number of other things.
For Oden, some of those issues are probably in play, but it didn't list one that applies: bad luck.
Posted on: September 22, 2010 12:34 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2010 12:37 pm
Posted by Royce Young
One day, some day, Greg Oden will be fully healthy. He has to, right? Because as of now, it doesn't sound like he is.
Via BlazersEdge, Trail Blazer Director of College Scouting Chad Buchanan told KGW's Joe Becker on Wednesday that he hopes Greg Oden is able to play "60-65" games during the 2010-2011 NBA season. Bummer sauce.
"People want Greg to be ready at the start of the season... Looking long term, we need everyone healthy, clicking together, come March, April and into May. If we can get Greg to play 60-65 games this year and continue the development curve he was on before he got injured last year, I think we'll have a chance to have some success in the playoffs, this season," Buchanan said.
In other words, he's not ready. And by the sound of it, they don't really know when he will be. The Blazers have already said he's "progressing" but that's just lip service any organization gives after an injury. A player could have his leg amputated and management would say his recovery is going as planned and he's "progressing."
If you forgot, Oden basically broke his knee after falling awkwardly 21 games into last season. He missed the remainder of the year and has spent the summer trying to rehab. But this is coming after microfracture surgery the year before on his other knee. So while the Blazers stick to a plan of patience, Oden's future may have already been decided. Let's hope not.
However, he's still young. He's only 22. And the Blazers are smart to move things along slowly. There's no reason to try and rush him to be ready for October when Portland will actually need him later. So if that means he's out until December, so be it. Yao Ming is being put on a basketbal pitch count, so why can't Oden be on a game count?
Regardless of that though, this is another disappointing turn for not only Oden, but Blazer fans who are eager to have him healthy for a full season. Provided he makes it through this season alive, they'll just have to wait another year.
Posted on: September 20, 2010 9:04 pm
Edited on: September 21, 2010 10:06 am
Portland loathes expectations. Expected to compete for the West title? Down in a burning wreckage of knee bones and perimeter shooting. Unable to hold on to the playoffs? Say hi to a massive winning streak to glide into the playoffs. They are never predictable, that's for certain. As we continue our Preseason Primers , we take a look at the noble hope of the Northwest, and if this is finally the season when things don't go wrong for the Blazers.
Training camp site: Portland, OR
Training camp starts: Sept. 28
Key additions: Wesley Matthews (free agent)
Key subtractions: Juwan Howard (free agent), Martell Webster (trade), Luke Babbitt, Armon Johnson (free agent)
Likely starting lineup: Andre Miller, PG; Brandon Roy, SG; Nicolas Batum, SF, LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, Marcus Camby, C
Player to watch: Greg Oden. Guy's gotta get healthy sometime, right? Oden has been and remains the missing piece of the puzzle for the Blazers, even with the addition of Marcus Camby. If Oden can reach a significant portion of his massive untapped potential, he could be a difference maker for the Blazers, completing the team that's been constructed over the past five years. It's unknown if Oden will even be available for camp, or how much he'll be participating. But even that says something. Oden's got to bounce back hard, and get back to where he showed flashes last year prior to the injury. That's the only way the Blazers can make the jump they need to this year.
Chemistry quiz: Who's the ticking time bomb? That's the question, and it's multiple choice, with several "A and B and C" type choices. Last year, Andre Miller and Nat McMillan blew up at one another during a low point. The two reconciled things and seem to be on better ground, but there's been consistent trade chatter involving Miller since he was signed as a marquee free agent in 2009. And that's just the start! Travis Outlaw and Steve Blake, two longtime Blazers were traded last year, along with Martell Webster before this year's draft. And, oh, yeah, Rudy Fernandez is involved in a messy, gross situation where he's demanding a trade and talking about sitting out the next season , even after rejecting a trade to New Orleans. This is all before we get into LaMarcus Aldridge's longterm problems with the club, and the attention showered on Greg Oden constantly. That said, McMillan has done a tremendous job keeping the team together and helped lead them to the playoffs last year. If he can keep them together this year, it'll be another award-worthy performance.
Injury watch: Ha. Ha ha ha. Hahahahahaha. Sorry. That's mean.
Well, let's see. Brandon Roy struggled with an ankle towards the end of last year, but that should be fine. Greg Oden is recovering from a broken patella, slowly. Joel Przybilla also broke his patella and tore ligaments, then reinjued it in the shower. Marcus Camby is no spring chicken. This team is one bad turn, a helicopter and a few tents from becoming a M*A*S*H* unit. If any team is worthy of karmic bonuses resulting in a clean bill of health this year, it's Portland.
Camp battles: Center's going to be a big one throughout the year, but with Oden not near 100% by any stretch of the imagination, Camby has it on lockdown. Nicolas Batum continues to be one of the better developing small forwards in the league, and his overall play should keep him locked in above the rookie Babbitt. An interesting one? Point guard. Miller was terrific at points last year for the Blazers, but when he wasn't, Jerryd Bayless was increasingly better. Bayless is a fierce competitor. If he were to make a significant jump, that one could get ugly really quick.
Biggest strength: Depth and Brandon Roy. That's the formula, which is why the injuries const them so much last year. Additionally, Brandon Roy's going to have to climb back out of the pool and onto the pavement of great players after a downturn last season. The Blazers absolutely must have Roy as a top ten player in the league if they're going to compete for the Western Conference Finals, along with all the other things they need to happen. But Roy has shown he can do it, and they still have considerable depth, arguably more, with Matthews to give Roy a breather, and young talent mixed in with the vets.
Glaring weakness: You mean, besides spending more times on their backs than Luke Walton? (You thought I was going for a sex joke there, didn't you?) The team's gotta stay healthy, which isn't something they can avoid, outside of moving to Phoenix and hiring their training staff. On the floor, the offense can stagnate considerably when Roy's not on the floor outside of the handful of nights where Miller goes nova. The other players need to develop into go-to scorers, at least a few. LaMarcus Aldridge in particular has had low expectations which he's exceeded yet not received credit for the last few years, but now he's going to have to be a big-time power forward for the Blazers. If he doesn't show he can get to the next level, he may find himself on the block as the Blazers look for the missing piece.
Posted on: September 17, 2010 9:51 am
Edited on: September 17, 2010 10:27 am
Landry's La-Z-Boys, Duncan's slim fit, and Ainge's cliff in today's Shootaround.
Posted by Matt Moore
Of all the endorsement opportunities you can get, I don't want Nike. Nor do I want Pepsi or Coke or McDonalds. No, I want the same endorsement op that Carl Landry just got. La-Z-Boy . Now that's a quality endorsement. I bet he has a La-Z-Boy in each and every room in his house. I wonder if he gets the ones with the cupholders and refrigerators underneath. Are they custom-sized for his frame? So many questions.
There were a lot of questions about the Bobcat's decision to waive Erick Dampier's crazy valuable $13 million expiring non-guaranteed contract. Turns out the contract is guaranteed if Dampier is injured , which means the Bobcats would be on the hook for the $13 million, and that was a risk they simply couldn't afford to take.
Tim Duncan is getting up there in years. That impacts his ability to stay on the floor, especially given how many games he's played with playoffs included. But it appears he's reacted that situation by losing some weight, as Greg Popovich told reporters Thursday that Duncan has shown up for camp slimmer and faster than in years past, this after showing up last year 15 lbs. lighter. That move could partially be based on the improved depth the Spurs have, which means Duncan doesn't have to play the part of traditional big-man center, especially with Tiago Splitter on board. It's possible Duncan could be playing more in traditional power forward sets for the Spurs this year.
Jon Scheyer is going to camp with the Jazz. This concludes your "most appropriate undrafted free agent signing" of the week.
Monta Ellis wants to make things work with Stephen Curry, and regrets his comments about the rook last year. There's a thought that the two can coexist, but if that's going to happen, someone's going to have to determine a pecking order. And the better Ellis gets, the more complicated that issue comes, and that's before we factor in David Lee. Still, it's good to see Ellis recognizes his failure to lead last year.
The Celtics opted for the status quo this year , but they had options. It's a difficult question that Danny Ainge faces, the question of when exactly to pull the plug and begin the move towards the future. That's a cliff no one wants to jump off, which is why so many are shoved off.
Greg Oden is like some sort of really powerful Magic The Gathering card . I tend to think of him more like one of those really difficult to unlock video game secrets that when you unlock it, really isn't that cool anyway. It's cool, it's just not worth the work you did to get there.
Let's all have a giggle at the idea of Derrick Favors starting to begin the season .
An image of the Cleveland skyline will replace the "We Are All Witnesses" banner in Cleveland. That's still going to sting fans that look at it each night.
The jerks in Sacramento defaced the Casspi mural again . Sigh.
Posted on: September 15, 2010 2:06 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2010 2:08 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell ... The NBA season is right around the corner, and NBA training camp starts in just a few short weeks. To get you ready for the NBA season, we've put together 25 pop quizzes. Pencils ready? We continue our Pop Quizzes with this question...
If the Blazers can get (and stay) healthy, how good can they be?Pretty darn good. Next question.
(What's that? I need to take 800 or so more words to explain why? OK then.)
Last season's trials for the Blazers are well documented. Greg Oden , Joel Pryzbilla , Rudy Fernandez, Brandon Roy, Nic Batum - they all missed a significant amount of time. That's like, the whole team right there.
Yet they still won 50 games and finished seventh in the West. When you start looking at old box scores from last season and some of the lineups Portland played 20, 25 and even 30 minutes a night with, it really shows you what a remarkable job Nate McMillan did last season holding it all together.
Now imagine them all healthy, all clicking for a full 82. I realize that's basically impossible to picture because, you know, Greg Oden is on the team, but humor me.
Pryzbilla may be out until December, but assuming he comes back fully healthy, Portland's front line is as stout as they come. Oden , Pryzbilla , LaMarcus Aldridge and Marcus Camby for a four-man rotation on the blocks.
The addition of Wesley Matthews is no small thing, especially with the whole Rudy Fernandez situation flapping out in the wind. If anything, Matthews makes Fernandez somewhat dispensable. Brandon Roy now has a capable scorer to stand with him on the wing, plus Matthews is a nice wing defender.
Andre Miller looked re-energized last season when he had to carry the load for Portland, Jerryd Bayless has his moments and they have a bonafide stopper in Nic Batum . Rookies Luke Babbitt and Eliot Williams a nice adds, though they may not get a ton of time, unless, well, last season happens again. But this time, Portland's at least got a little more depth and it might not have to scramble to sign Juwan Howard's 65-year-old body.
The window in Northwest is still wide open. The Thunder might enter the season as the favorites for the division, but they're young and some feel might be setting up for a bit of a disappointment. Hey, it's what happened to Portland last season.
Then of course Denver could be transitioning without Carmelo Anthony, Utah has some questions and then there's Minnesota.
Winning over 50 isn't out of the question. Heck, it's probably a strong possibility.
Don't underestimate the value of a healthy Oden for a full season. Portland hasn't yet had a chance to experience that. Before he went down last year, the Blazers were 13-8 and were only giving up 90.7 points per game. After Oden was hurt, the Blazers gave up 96.2 the remaining 61 games. His defensive impact is definitely important.
Plus, this team is still young. The average age is under 25, even with old dogs like Miller and Camby on the roster. For the most part, the Blazers are a rising, building unit. Two years ago, they were the youthful darlings before Oklahoma City stole their thunder (I realize that was terrible), but the reality is, this team isn't filled out yet. Windows in the West don't stay open for long, but it's still open for Portland.
The best part of last season was there wasn't any crying. There wasn't any whining. The excuses were there and this team still won 50 games and made it into the postseason. In terms of character and willpower, that says something. At least to me.
Injuries happen. It's life in professional sports. But not every year do you see five or six significant injuries that cause starters to miss multiple games. That's what Portland went through last season.
If this team is healthy for a full 82, are they legit contenders? Possibly. Outside of one team at the top, the West's door is open. The talent is certainly on the roster and they've proven they can win. Injuries make for an easy excuse a lot of times, but sometimes it's just real.
The Blazers at full tilt for an entire season? Yep, I'd say they're pretty good.
Posted on: September 10, 2010 5:09 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Sam Forencich/NBAE/Getty Images
When Kevin Durant was lighting up the Big 12 at Texas, I was in college at a different Big 12 school. I saw him play twice in person, and a whole bunch more because of regional TV coverage.At that time, I had no idea what advanced basketball metrics were. I had no idea what eFG % or rebound rate was. If you asked me what "pace" was, I'd tell you that's the thing I do when I talk on the phone. I know those things now, but when I watched Durant tear apart the Big 12, I didn't need them to know that he was an other-worldly basketball talent. It was pretty stinking obvious to the uneducated naked eye that Kevin Durant could hoop.
So after both Durant and Greg Oden decided to leave college for the NBA draft, the debate over who Portland should take kicked into high gear. The traditional big man that could rebound and protect the rim for you and possibly be the bedrock for a championship team or the scoring savant that might have one of the finest statistical careers in the history of the game. Tough choice right there. And one that needed more information than just an uneducated eye test.
That's where the intangibles in basketball come in to play. You know, things like working out a player, checking his vertical leap, his speed running the court and how strong he is. Everyone freaked when Durant could put up 185 pounds a single time as if it was a sign he'd never be able to take contact in the lane or muscle in a 3-point play. But another measurement used was the exact thing casual folks like me didn't even know existed at the time: advanced metrics.
And lining up Durant versus Oden statistically, any way you sliced them, just wasn't fair. Durant's nightly box score was like looking at a work of art. It commonly read something like 11-17, 31 points, 14 rebounds, five assists. Oden on the other hand (who was playing without his dominant right hand, mind you) was a little rougher. A usual night for him was 12 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. Plug those numbers in to any formula and it'll spit out something saying that Kevin Durant is the better basketball player.
Which is exactly what the Blazers' long time statistical consultant Jeff Ma did. And what did his numbers say? Take Durant.
"If people that use analytics to predict player performance in the NBA, using performance analytics, meaning what they did in college, and they tell you they had Oden ranked higher than Durant, they are full of crap," Ma told Ben Golliver of BlazersEdge in an interview. "There are very few statistical measures that would have rated Oden's system in college better than Durant's. Oden was injured his entire career, that one season at Ohio State. He had to shoot free throws left handed, was not efficient, didn't have a great statistical season.
"Our numbers absolutely said they should pick Durant. It wasn't even close."
No spoiler alert needed, we all know what happened next. The Blazers selected Oden No. 1 overall, Durant went to the Sonics-now-Thunder and just like the Sonics move from the Pacific Northwest, both of their careers headed in entirely different directions. Durant finished last season second in the MVP voting and became the league's youngest scoring champ ever. Oden has played in only 82 games total over his first three years in the NBA.
Looks like the stat guy was right, right?
Well, I guess so, but not in that way.
One large misconception with advanced metrics is that they are the end-all, be-all in discussions. Because a guy has this plus/minus or that PER doesn't mean he's not a good basketball player. It's just part of the overall equation in evaluating talent. Ma goes on and tells Golliver exactly that:
"But that kind of decision is never that cut and dry. I would never want the Blazers to make the decision so cut and dry. The thinking they had was that this elite center is very rare and the ability to get that guy was staring them in the face and that's what they went after. The sad thing is that when you ignore the numbers, the numbers often tell you something regardless of what you're ignoring. The numbers in this case were ignored because Oden was hurt but what have we seen in Oden's career? A propensity to get hurt."
That's the rub right there. The numbers were altered by Oden's injury-plagued freshman season at Ohio State. And as Ma says, Oden has become a bit injury prone. But how could you possibly predict that? What does a broken wrist have to do with a busted knee? Nothing, in fact. Except that they both require a little bad luck, something Oden has had a lot of.
Oden was the "right" choice for Portland. He had the look of a cornerstone big man that you could build a championship caliber team around. The Blazers had scorers - they didn't feel they needed Durant. They needed that mythical big man in the middle. And you know what? Oden is just 22 years old (insert joke here about how old he looks) and nobody says it's over for him yet. He's still got time to prove Kevin Pritchard right, even if it's too late for Pritchard in Portland. Before his injury last season, he was looking pretty darn excellent. Now is he the caliber player Kevin Durant is? Probably not, but the Blazers probably knew that already. They weren't trying to draft an all-time great. They were trying to find someone to help them win.
The more Durant does, the worse Oden looks. It's not really fair, but that's the way it is. Call it Sam Bowie Syndrome if you want, call it Oden a bust, but it's reality. We have no idea what Durant's ceiling is, even after three stellar years. The roof may have already been placed on Oden's career.
Ma mentions that he figures two-thirds of general managers preferred Oden to Durant in the 2007 draft. Most everyone still agrees that Oden was the right choice. Now if Portland had to do it over, I'm sure they'd take Durant. But not just because the numbers said so. Because hindsight is, well, you know.
Posted on: September 2, 2010 1:17 pm
Edited on: September 7, 2010 1:22 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell ... The NBA season is right around the corner, and NBA training camp starts in just a few short weeks. To get you ready for the NBA season, we've put together 25 pop quizzes. Pencils ready? We continue our Pop Quizzes with this question.. .
What teams might people be sleeping on?When the season starts, everyone is in first place. And when the season starts, everyone has the hopes of being that sleeper team that comes out of nowhere to shock the basketball world. Everyone thinks their team could be the next Oklahoma City Thunder, the next Tampa Bay Rays, the next New Orleans Saints. Even the most pessimistic fan has that small bone in their body that thinks, "What if?"
But for some squads, it's just not realistic. Just like there has to be a best team, there also has to be a worst team. We've already tried to focus in on that really, really bad team. But what about the squads maybe flying under the radar? Not just teams that might come out of nowhere and make a playoff run, but teams like last season's Memphis Grizzlies who were simply just better than expected. Or teams that people simply aren't giving enough credence to. So, who are this season's sleeper candidates?
The Kings are almost approaching "trendy pick" territory, which is extremely dangerous. That's the area the Clippers were in last season and where teams like the Houston Texans have perpetually been stationed. It's like sports purgatory. You're better than terrible, probably mediocre, but because of elevated expecations, you're set up to be a disappointment. It's a really odd place. And the Kings might be in that category.
But the reality is, there's a ton of talent on that roster. Tyreke Evans is obviously waiting to break out into superstardom, smart moves brought in Carl Landry and Samuel Dalembert, two players that help a lot and of course drafting maybe the most talented player last June in DeMarcus Cousins helps. The roster has talent, and lots of it, but it's about overcoming youth and learning to win. The Thunder figured those things out last season as they put together an unexpected 50-win season. That expectation might be a little high for this young Sacramento squad, but seeing them as a potential .500 team or maybe even pushing for the postseason in March isn't too hard to picture.
By playing much better basketball and finishing the last two months of the season 12-10, the Pacers played themselves out of a higher lottery pick. But what they might have done, is played themselves into a better 2010-11 campaign. Momentum heading into an offseason is always a good thing and even with a rag-tag roster that didn't feature a real point guard, the Pacers were able to compete. Now with Darren Collison, a proven point man, Indiana has something to get a little more excited about.
Of course losing Troy Murphy stings. Stings a lot in fact. Indiana is desperately searching for an interior replacement for Murphy, but for now, the Pacers will try and survive on Danny Granger's scoring, Collison's creating and the continued development of Roy Hibbert. The Eastern Conference is looking at a changing of the guard with teams like Cleveland falling down the line a bit. The eighth spot is wide open in the East, and the Pacers might just have enough to get there.
New Jersey Nets
Don't laugh. Seriously, don't. Everyone knows the Nets weren't truly as bad as their record indicated last season. It was a snowball effect that started in training camp and eventually led to the team flirting with the worst record ever. Simply put, that roster was just too good to win only 14 games last year.
But with the additions of Jordan Farmar, Travis Outlaw and Troy Murphy, there has definitely been a talent upgrade. An interior duo of Brook Lopez and Murphy is definitely one of the best combos in the East. Add in rookie Derrick Favors whose ceiling is so high even he can't touch it and the Nets are a lock to be better. Will they be a playoff team? Probably not. But can they be a vastly improved squad that at least can talk a little postseason around February and March? Definitely.
Portland Trail Blazers
What are they doing on here? Well, hear me out. Most aren't considering the Blazers a true Western contender this season. Most don't think Portland has what it takes to get to the Western finals. Playoff team? Certainly. But a team to be reckoned with? Hardly.
And that's where I think people might be wrong.
Everyone knows the well chronicled injury issues the Blazers faced last year. Starters missed lots of games, bench players missed lots of games, everyone missed lots of games. The team was ripped apart with injuries, but yet somehow, someway, made it into the playoffs and won over 50 games. So imagine that Blazer roster at full tilt. Of course that's a big if, because assuming Greg Oden will be healthy for a full season is like assuming Gary Busey won't say something crazy on TV. But even just having Brandon Roy, Joel Pryzbilla, Andre Miller and Nicolas Batum all together for a full 82 means that's a pretty scary roster. Is this your traditional sleeper? Not really because everyone already knows they're good. But the question is, just how good?
Posted on: August 23, 2010 8:42 am
Posted by Royce Young