Andre Gomes NBA Portland Trailblazers 2010-2011 Season Preview

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Andre Gomes NBA Portland Trailblazers 2010-2011 Season Preview

2009/10 Review:

The last year of the Kevin Pritchard’s reign in Portland was a successful season if you think about it, but the Trailblazers once again failed to fulfill their potential by not being able to put together a healthy season.

Nicolas Batum didn’t start playing until late in December; Greg Oden went down in November with a season ending injury; Joel Przybilla went down in mid November, while Marcus Camby arrived only in February; Brandon Roy missed 17 games between November, December and late on the season, so we can say with pretty sure that their best lineup Miller – Roy – Batum – Aldridge and Oden didn’t play a single game together last season! Sill Nate McMillan managed the team quite well especially if you think that midway December, January and February, he had Juwan Howard, Dante Cunningham and Jeff Pendergraph to rotate at the center position.

Once again Portland was the slowest paced team in the league last season, but Nate McMillan’s team is really efficient in playing in the half court on both ends of the floor. However, during the stretch of time, in which they were without Oden and Przybilla before the arriving of Camby, the Blazers went 12-12 and their interior defense and rebounding ability simply wasn’t there. From being the best rebounding team in 2008-09, the Blazers slipped to 8th and the correlation between injuries and this fall in the boards rankings is more than evident and the Blazers need badly to be dominant in this particular department.

Nevertheless they ended the regular season winning 50 games and secured the 6th spot in the Western Conference, but once again the injury bug appeared in the wrong time in the wrong player: Brandon Roy, who started the post-season in recovery from surgery and ultimately rushed back to try and prevent his team from getting knocked, but he was purely a non factor – in the decisive and pivotal game 6 against the Suns he shot 4-16 from the field!

It was another season in which we just didn’t have the chance to watch the Blazers playing with all their weapons, will this ever happen?

2009/10 Advanced Stats:

Pace 30th 91.0
Offense 8th 107.6
Defense 13th 103.8
Rebounds 8th +2.11

2010/11 Outlook:

Projected Depth Chart:

PG: Andre Miller, Jerryd Bayless, Armon Johnson, Patrick Mills
SG: Brandon Roy, Rudy Fernandez, Elliot Williams
SF: Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews, Dante Cunningham, Luke Babbitt
PF: LaMarcus Aldridge, Jeff Pendergraph
C: Marcus Camby, Greg Oden, Joel Przybilla

Despite not making any substantial move in this offseason, the Trailblazers didn’t have exactly a quiet summer, as the architect of this project Kevin Pritchard was fired and replaced for Rich Cho. They were able to secure Marcus Camby for two more years and offered Wesley Matthews a new contract that wasn’t matched by the Utah Jazz. They also saw Rudy Fernandez publicly said that he wants to go out of town, so once again the word “healthy” will be the key for this team.

Brandon Roy is still the leader and the best player of this team, but he is coming from a tough season plenty of injuries. After being injured midway the season, Roy got injured just before the end of the regular season and he couldn’t help his team in the playoffs against the Phoenix Suns. Yes, he played a couple of games, but it wasn’t the “real” Brandon Roy that was playing. He averaged 21.5 points, 4.7 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game and albeit he isn’t a truly superstar player in this league, he is just one step behind that class. However he is yet to deliver a complete season without missing a game – his durability might be an issue for the organization and probably the best solution is to cut his minutes per game.

Brandon Roy reportedly had some chemistry problems with Andre Miller earlier in the season, but eventually he solved these miscues when Miller earned the starting nod. After playing for the explosive Nuggets and Sixers, Miller had to adjust to the slow paced Blazers offense and he struggled early on the season. However after being promoted to the starter duties, Miller delivered a “typical Andre Miller” season with almost 15 points, 5.7 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game. The key question about him is not regarding his unquestionable quality, but rather if he is the real upgrade (when compared to Steve Blake) to push the team into the elite level? I understand that the Blazers are yet to have a complete healthy season, but I doubt that the answer of my pertinent question is a “yes”. Miller has 34-years old and he won’t improve his game, instead we can expect some downgrade in his overall play.

No Blazers player developed more and faster than Nicolas Batum last season. He was a nice surprise in his rookie season (2008-09) by starting in 76 games and being basically the wing premium defensive player of the team. Just before the start of the last season, Batum suffered a terrible shoulder injury that kept him out of the court until the end of the December, but his 37 games played were a pretty good sample of how spectacular was his development. Not only he remained a terrific defensive player, but on the offensive end he improved in every single relevant statistic: points (10.1), FG% (51.9%), 3pts% (40.9%), FT’s (84.3%) and even in assists (1.2)! He’s only 21 years old and surely he is an integral part of the present and future of this franchise.

The most offensive gifted player in the frontcourt is LaMarcus Aldridge and despite his solid numbers, he is yet to explode to reach the next level. He has a terrific mid range jumper and a pretty well coordinated offensive arsenal – good enough for 17.9 points per game, while shooting almost 50% from the field, but his defensive presence and aggressiveness isn’t impressive at all. He also struggled in the playoffs last season against the undersized Suns by shooting only 43% from the field and grabbing a mere 6 boards per game for 38.2 minutes per game.

Aldridge’s defensive liabilities makes indispensable for the team to have a dominant defensive center playing alongside him. Greg Oden was supposed to be that man, but unfortunately the injuries have been the highlight of his career so far. Recently Oden said he doesn’t have a timetable for his return other than that he won’t be ready for the opener and by signing Marcus Camby for the next 2 years, the Blazers didn’t want to wait for him. Camby played 23 games last season for Portland and he was spectacular on the defensive end by grabbing 11.1 boards per game and making 2 blocks per game. They also have Joel Przybilla to compete for the center position, but like Oden, Przybilla suffered a tough knee injury last season. If somehow these 3 players remain healthy for the majority of the season, then the Blazers have by far the best rotation in the league in this particular position.

Depth is one of Portland trademarks and going for this season, it won’t be different! Assuming they will solve the Rudy Fernandez issue, the Blazers have in Jerryd Bayless, Wesley Matthews and Rudy Fernandez, three young players with potential in the backcourt to form a solid second unit.

This division has seen one team growing fast and the Blazers need to step up pretty quickly or else the Thunder will be the best team in years to come in the Northwest division. We all would like to see this team play with all their pieces together, but unfortunately it won’t happen early on this season. Nevertheless, they have the pieces to have another 50-wins season and another trip to the playoffs.

  • Some Blazers' news:

    Joel Przybilla practiced again Wednesday. (Nate) McMillan said the veteran could be back in the lineup as soon as early November.

    "He's got a ways to go," McMillan said. "I think the good thing is, each day, he seems to be getting better. We haven't seen any setbacks in the sense of Joel practicing and the next day he's too sore to do anything. It's a good sign."

    ---------------------------

    Brandon Roy

    on Wednesday said he wants the ball more this season because it will give the Trail Blazers their best chance to win.

    “I want the ball a lot more,” Roy said.