NBA Lockout: How This Affects a New Look Portland Trail Blazers Squad
The NBA lockout looks to be extending a few more weeks, but I doubt it will end there. The sides are still very far apart and the mediator hasn't done much to bring them together.
This may affect some teams more than others, such as the ones with a new coach, a new point guard running the offense and teams with consistent injury problems.
With the Blazers meeting most of that criteria (Nate McMillan still runs the team), I focus this article on the Blazers and how this lockout could affect them in both negative and positive ways.
I will weigh some of the pros and cons of the NBA lockout from the Trail Blazers perspective and analyze how the team might respond when the season finally rolls around.
Pro: Nursing Injuries
Brandon Roy and Greg Oden, both fighting knee problems, get the benefit of more rest and healing. The longer these two can rest up, the longer their knees can take a break from an extensive workload that comes from playing heavy minutes in an NBA game.
I doubt that either of these players will get heavy minutes this year, giving how that raises the risk of more injury. This extra time may be more beneficial to Oden because he could potentially have a full recovery while Roy may only get back to 80 percent himself.
But you never know, with more time off, these could be two huge players on the team this year and every extra day helps. Even if Roy never completely heals, we know he can still win playoff games with the knees of a veteran major league catcher.
Pro: Forgiving Marcus Camby
Marcus Camby has been a fan favorite since he arrived in Portland, pulling down rebound after rebound for a smaller Blazers squad.
This offseason, Camby was pulled over and found with marijuana (the charges have since been dropped). Normally just a little weed isn't a big deal to most fans, but if you were a fan during the "Jailblazers Era," a little bit can be a lot.
Personally, as a fan, I don't care all that much, but most Portland fans don't want to go backwards again. With the larger offseason and lack of NBA coverage, the lovable big man might be able to slip under most fans' radar and this might not have much effect on the Blazers.
At least I am hoping so.
Pro: The Fan Buildup
The Blazers are known for their faithful fans and sellout crowds. Maybe because the town just loves basketball, or maybe because they have only one other major sports team if you consider soccer.
The longer these fans have to wait, the more tickets are going to be worth. The fans in Portland want basketball and with a team built to contend, it's hard to wait.
Home-court advantage this year will be unlike any other in the last 10 years. It's gonna be loud and it's gonna be a little rowdy. Look for the Blazers to feed off of that energy all season long.
Pro: General Manager
With the lockout, it's hard for the Blazers to hire a general manager. With Rich Cho not doing much last year, he was let go and it looks as though they will be replacing interim GM Chad Buchanan.
I don't necessarily consider this a bad thing right now. With the extra time, the team can continue to search for a GM that will fit with the Blazers' scheme. They need a guy who can stick around for years to come and keep this Blazers build a contender.
Con: Holding LaMarcus Aldridge Back
The longer this lockout continues, the longer LaMarcus Aldridge is kept off the floor. This is bad news for the team because the sky is the limit for Aldridge right now. He seems to add a new weapon to his skill set every year and the only way he can polish his skills is to be on the court.
I think Aldridge is a legit top-five power forward in the NBA and he is going to get better. The longer he has to play pick-up ball with lesser men, the less time he has to improve.
Yeah he's playing organized basketball in the offseason, but he's not backing up on Wilson Chandler and Blake Griffin. If Aldridge wants to be in the All-Star game this year, then he needs this season to start as soon as possible.
Con: Free Agency
When the NBA lockout ends, if it does, we will be jumping straight into games. This means the Blazers will have to work fast if they want to pick up another key piece to the championship puzzle.
On top of that, the Blazers still need to extend Greg Oden an offer. They will need a few big men if they want to go deep in the playoffs. If they would have had this offseason to do that, I am sure they would have another power forward or center practicing with the team right now.
Finishing this puzzle while the season is in full swing will be a tough task for a new GM, hopefully he can come in and make quick, effective decisions for the future of this team.
Con: Raymond Felton's Loss of Practices
With a new point guard running the offense, every practice counts.
Raymond Felton will be thrown into the mix without background of the Blazers' offense and for the first couple games, the offense might look a little stagnant. The sooner Felton can practice with his new squad, the better the team can be this year.
For the first few games, I wouldn't be surprised to see Brandon Roy run the offense and have Felton come off the bench. That might not be such a bad thing considering Roy can run a slow, methodical offense like Andre Miller.
The downside to that is when Felton inevitably takes over the Blazers' offense, it will have to make the transition to a more upbeat tempo.
Con: Young Talent and Contention
The team is built to contend for the next few years with a ton of young talent. Losing games or possibly the whole season hurts this team and they could potentially lose a year where making a deep playoff run isn't just a hopeful thought.
The fans just want to watch them play already because they know they have a team built to contend in the Western Conference and you hate to miss out on a year with high expectations.
Con: Marcus Camby Again?
Marcus Camby brings energy off the bench and much-needed rebounding for the squad. Sure, we can forget about his offseason run-in with the law, but he is not getting any younger and this is probably his last season.
He already said something about retiring if he was traded last year, so if the Blazers want one more helpful year out of Camby then they need this season because his usefulness will decline as his age increases.
When the season finally starts, I think the Blazers will pick up a decent backup big man and start the season a little slow. Expect them to start around .500 with the trouble continuing to be closing out games.
But after a few weeks with the new unit getting more practice and starts, I think the explosive offense that is sure to come with the addition of Raymond Felton will start to build leads that even the Blazers can't squander in the fourth quarter.
By the end of the year I expect the Blazers to be a three or four seed playing a team they can handle in the first round. If it wasn't for the lockout I would expect the Blazers to be a year-round force in the Western Conference, fighting for a top-three seed.
The slow start I'm expecting from replacing the starting point guard wouldn't happen and Brandon Roy or Greg Oden would miss a few more games than what is already expected.