Thursday, September 07, 2006

Start the season, already!

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As a Blazers fan, after such a flurry of off-season moves, it's like the calm after the storm now. It's such a let-down to have to wait to see how this re-tooled squad pans out.
There isn't much news relating to the Blazers to report of late and hence nothing to write about here. Here's what we know to expect this coming season:
Brandon Roy will be exciting
Based on his Summer League play, everyone is expecting big things from the rookie guard. He'll likely spend most of his time at shooting guard and put up a lot of points, whilst also lead the team from the point at times. The poise he has displayed to date will be what every Blazer fan wishes and hopes for. Here's some more hype on him, if you haven't got enough. I guess the big question will be, how good will Roy really be? As a rookie will he be an 18-4-4 guy? Many are suggesting this. I would venture to say he may well come close to these numbers -- but let's not put too much pressure on him just yet -- this is a best case scenario. He's more than likely to fall a bit short of these heights. The problem of late is that the precedents set by LeBron James and Chris Paul are expecting Rookie of the Year to mean instant superstar. That is not always the case.
We will have to wait a bit to see LaMarcus Aldridge
...but when he does return, he should be another exciting attraction of this season. LaMarcus is a different postion to Roy in that he will be competing for time with established veterans Zach Randolph, Joel Przybilla, Jamaal Magloire and Raef LaFrentz -- in what makes for a very crowded frontcourt. Fortunately this means that he will be given every opportunity to develop slowly without the pressure heaped upon other high picks of the past. See: Kwame Brown.
Dramas are a constant in Blazer City
The Zach Randolph pre-season sex-drama is just the norm. We know this. We also know that it is just the first of the speed bumps to come on the highway that is the NBA team previously nicknamed the Jail-Blazers. There is still to be resolution on the status of Darius Miles -- who many tipped to be traded during this off-season. For now, let's assume that he'll be around to see out at least the first half of the season. Will Miles or Randolph explode again? Will there be gripes over playing time in the loaded frontcourt? Will there be further rumours of sale of the team? Will front office personnel be finalised soon? We await this and more.
How will Jarrett Jack and Martell Webster perform?
They're not rookies any more. In the case of Jack in particular, responsibility will be passed in his direction. Bassy and Blake are gone. Jack will be given the reigns of the team and told to lead. It will be interesting to see if he flourishes, if Roy is given a lot of the PG duties or if another option is taken altogether. Continued development from Webster will be expected. A lottery pick last year, return on investment is expected. He will be sharing minutes with Juan Dixon, Roy, Miles and Travis Outlaw at the swingman positions -- who gets the minutes will no doubt depend on form.
Where does Juan Dixon fit into all of this?
I don't know if it's just me, but I don't see Dixon staying too long with the Blazers. With the emergence of Roy and Webster, I doubt a young team like Portland can afford many minutes for an undersized veteran SG such as Dixon. That said, he provided a solid second/third scoring option last season when noone else would. What happens is uncertain. I still think he goes.
There's no doubt that the nucleus of the team is an exciting one. We can't expect big things or even the playoffs as a given, but there will definitely be many reasons to watch the Blazers ON the court this season. Bring on November.

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