Portland Trail Blazers: Three Reasons They May Win the West in 2012
Are the Trail Blazers down? Sure. Should we count Portland out? No way!
With a potentially key trade on draft night, the hope of a healthy season next year, and an interim GM who isn't afraid to mix it up, the Blazers may have a legitimate shot to challenge the likes of L.A., Denver, Oklahoma City and Dallas.
Here are the top three reasons why the Trail Blazers should still be considered contenders in the West in light of their recent acquisitions:
Reason No. 1: Changing the Tempo
Ever since Nate McMillan has come to Portland as head coach, the Trail Blazers have switched gears from being one of the quickest, run-n'-gun teams in the league on a perennial basis to the slowest, most deliberate franchise in the NBA.
The Blazers 85 possessions per game in 2010-11 was easily the lowest among the 30 teams. No longer a scoring team, they have turned the sport of basketball into a grind-it-out game of chess. Is there anything wrong with this style of play? Absolutely not! It has worked for numerous teams—the New York Knicks of the 90s. However, since the Trail Blazers have failed to advance past the first round of the playoffs the past three seasons, if change is available, why not give it a whirl and see where we end up.
Enter Raymond Felton. Felton has boldly announced his intentions for his new ball club and Coach Nate has been listening: Run! And with guys such as LaMarcus Aldridge, Gerald Wallace and Wesley Matthews, this change of pace could be exactly what Portland needs to get the ball in the basket, victories in the win column and fans in the stands!
Reason No. 2: Greg Oden
If, (and that is a HUGE if), Greg Oden can fully recover from his last four seasons chalked full of knee injuries and play a full year with solid stats, he could be a huge piece (and I mean HUGE piece) to the Blazers hopes and dreams of winning the west.
Whether Oden starts at center or plays backup to Marcus Camby is not significant. Whether the big man puts up 20 points and 10 rebounds per game or 10 points and five rebounds a night isn't the important thing either.
If Greg Oden can step onto the basketball court and simply play a full game, his presence and big body could help the Blazers get over the proverbial “hump” and challenge the super teams of the west for supremacy.
Reason No. 3: Brandon Roy
Those that count Brandon Roy out had to eat their words during the first-round series against the Dallas Mavericks when Roy torched Dallas in two of the six games. Yes, B-Roy may have been nearly nonexistent in the other four games of the series, but he proved to the doubters and to his opponents that he still has what it takes to be a deadly weapon on any given night, any given moment.
He can single-handedly lead his team back from 23 down in the fourth quarter to win the game. He can make a killer crossover and slice by defenders on his way to the hoop for a quick two. He can hit a pull-up jumper in crunch time to give the Blazers the win.
The fact of the matter is, Roy can still do these things; the sad part is that what Brandon probably can't do is play this way on a night-in, night-out basis. Nonetheless, Brandon Roy is one of the deadliest, most feared reserve guards in the league who still demands respect when he steps onto the court. Perhaps, the NBA should start etching Brandon Roy's name onto the sixth-man trophy for 2012 now...?!
There are a lot of intangibles and variables in the rise to become the league's elite. Is Portland there yet? No. Are they still trying to put the pieces to their puzzle together? Yes sir!
Though there are still plenty of unknowns, Coach Nate being open to allowing the Blazers to re-embrace their signature run-n-gun style of play, a healthy Oden and a refreshed Roy could lead to a dynamic and fulfilling season that will give Portland fans a reason to cheer!