The Blazers have been eliminated from the playoffs in the first round for two years running. A team that defies expectations and marches all the way to the playoffs only to be eliminated in the first round. Last year the culprit was the Houston Rockets: who were able to draw inspiration from a heart breaking season ending injury that was suffered by Dikembe Mutumbo. This season it was the Suns: who, unlike previous seasons, played incredible defense and were able to stop the Blazers in their tracks. What is causing this misfortune on the part of the Blazers?
The first place to look at is the head coach, Nate McMillan. Do not get me wrong McMillan is a good coach. He has been able to keep the team together from crashing this past season as they were constantly being berated by injuries. However, as soon as his team reaches the playoffs things begin to unravel. McMillan is not able to prepare the Blazers mentally for the playoffs. This becomes very clear once his team falls behind in a playoff series. The Blazers struggled to come back and win a second game in Portland; this came after they won the first game of the series in Phoenix.
However, not all of the Blazers woes can be blamed solely on the coaching position itself. Others might blame the GM as Kevin Pritchard was recently fired. However, in this case it would be wrong to blame Pritchard. The team he assembled was very successful and plays extremely well together. As the team experiences the same results next season Paul Allen will be looking for anther fall guy. This time he will have no where else to look except at Nate McMillan.
The Blazers will be successful without Nate McMillan but they will never win a championship let alone a conference championship because of one person. This person is Brandon Roy, who is the leader and star of the team. The reason as to why they will not win with Roy is because Roy is not a superstar. He can never do the types of things that Wade, James, or Bryant can do. He lacks the ability to attack the basket the same way that Wade or James can. There is a probability of one in a thousand that he will ever be able to take over a game when the time calls for it: the same way that Bryant can. He is best to be compared to a player such as Joe Johnson or Ray Allen. Roy like Allen and Johnson is a superior shooter but unlike Allen, Roy lacks the confidence to lead his team. Roy, just last season, stated that he would be happy if his team made the playoffs. That's it, there were no expectations to go all they way. Where is the hunger? This is also why Roy has begun to experience trouble scoring the ball as his numbers have decreased from last season to this season. This means that the Blazers offered a max contract to a player who is only going to average 20 points a game and then expect him to lead their team to the playoffs when even Roy himself sometimes doubts not only his potential but the potential of his team. I am going to wait to call Roy the most overrated and overpaid player in the league because it will take a couple of years for his new contract to really kick in. However, this is something that will be on the minds of the Blazer front office for years to come.
There is a silver lining in the Blazers organization and his name is Jerryd Bayless. Bayless is truley the future of this organization and we just caught a glimpse of what he is capable of during the playoff series against the Suns. It would be wise for the Blazers to start Bayless in order to further his development and to either trade Miller or move him to the bench.