The deep bench that the Portland Trailblazers boast has finally paid off.
Star guard Brandon Roy has now missed two games, and with Jerryd Bayless, Steve Blake, Sergio Rodriguez, and Rudy Fernandez holding down both the point and shooting guard position, Portland defeated the Celtics.
Regardless of the fact that the New Orleans Hornets rallied and outlasted Portland on January 2, the guards are making progress. If Roy misses time down the stretch, Coach McMillan will be able to turn to a young Jerryd Bayless who I think has star potential.
While Roy is no doubt the number one option on this squad, I believe that LaMarcus Aldridge is emerging into a really solid option at power forward. And don't forget that Greg Oden is showing signs of development as well.
Oden has started to get better in the post and is becoming a strong rebounder at the NBA level.
It'll take Oden more time to learn how to control his hands and not foul, but in the mean time, Joel Przybilla is a good option coming off of the bench. Przybilla's scrappiness has shined this season. Any guy who keeps playing with a broken wrist and is still out there giving his all deserves minutes.
So when looking at Portland, it's important to understand that it can keep winning games to a certain extent without Roy, because there are lots of other options across the board.
News came on January 3 that Roy will be missing seven to 10 more days. Portland's schedule isn't getting any easier either. A quick trip down south to LA to face the Lakers will be followed by a home game against a Pistons team who Portland beat at The Palace in Detroit.
While Roy is out, I think the player that needs to step up the most is Aldridge. With 17 PPG and 6.8 RPG, he'll need to be the leader.
Sure, the Blazers will also heavily rely on the three-point shooting of Blake and Fernandez, as well as the defensive intensity it will take to halt a red-hot Lakers offense.
Roy's 23 PPG has been missed while he's been hurt, but I think for the Lakers game, his defense will be missed more than anything. Roy likely would've guarded Bryant, and Bryant tends to go off on inexperienced defenders.
During Roy's absence, we'll get to learn a lot about what Portland is really made out of. Are they a playoff team with good depth, or are they a mediocre team that's over reliant on Roy?