Posts Tagged ‘Nicolas Batum’

Nate McMillan should be the front-runner for the NBA’s COTY Award

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

When you take a look at the following extended video clip, it’s important to understand exactly what the Portland Trail Blazers are trying to accomplish this season …

and just how remarkable it would be, if they can actually pull it off, considering that they are playing WITHOUT their:

1. Starting Center, i.e. Greg Oden;

2. Back-up Center, i.e. Joel Przybila; and,

3. Back-up Power Forward, i.e. Travis Outlaw;

completely, and with several other key players like their:

4. Starting Off Guard, i.e. Brandon Roy;

5. Starting Small Forward, i.e. Nicolas Batum; and,

6. Back-up Small Forward, i.e. Rudy Fernandez;

each having spent a fair number of games on the Inactive List this season, due to an assortment of different major and minor injuries.

Yet, somehow, this team is still:

- well above the .500 mark with a W-L Record of 29-21 [i.e. .580]
- in 3rd place in the Pacific Division
in a tie for 5th place in the Western Conference

in spite of also having to cope with the fact that their head coach, Nate McMillan, is still in ”recovery mode”, himself, from a torn achilles tendon injury, sustained when he stepped into practice earlier this season because the Blazers did not otherwise have enough “healthy” players on their roster to be able to conduct a full scale session.

If Portland can sustain their current level of performance … especially their present Points Allowed Ranking and Rebounding Differential Ranking … now that some of their walking wounded are finally beginning to return to good health, and make the Western Conference playoffs, then, there should be NO DOUBT, whatsoever, which coach should eventually receive this year’s Coach Of The Year Award, in the NBA.

Trail Blazers vs. Nets

No … doubt … whatsoever!

The Value Of Learning How To Lose Before Learning How To Win, in Portland

Monday, December 7th, 2009

In response to a most interesting article by David Berri …

The Impact of Losing Greg Oden
The primary purpose of this post was to highlight how good Oden had played this season (to see how good, please read the post).  Certainly it’s possible that the Blazers could overcome this loss.  But it seems fairly likely that Portland’s season is not going to go quite as well as I thought earlier this year


1. The Blazers were NEVER going to be the best team in the West this season.

2. The Blazers’ overall development arc, as “one of the best teams in the West”, will involve a wider sweep than just 2 or 3 seasons.

3. The problems with this year’s Blazers [at least, so far] this season were not rooted in the play of Greg Oden but in the following list of developments from the last 6 months:

i. Unnecessarily soliciting the services of Hedo Turkoglu [SF/Orlando who eventually signed with Toronto as an UFA], which upset/disrupted the flow they had been developing with Travis Outlaw [PF-SF] and Rudy Fernandez [SF-OG-PG];

ii. Unnecessarily signing a superfluous, ball-dominating PG, like Andre Miller [as an UFA/Philadelphia];

iii. The protracted contract extension negotiations with Brandon Roy [OG-PG-SF] and LaMarcus Aldridge [PF-C]; and,

iv. Re-integrating Martell Webster [OG-SF], a top 8 player, returning from an injury-lost season, into their everyday rotation.

v. The injury sufferred by Nicolas Batum [SF-OG], a long and athletic player who can Defend and Rebound at his specific positions;

vi. The injury sufferred by Travis Outlaw [PF-SF], an under-sized but very versatile and effective player who can: A. take/make big [jump] shots [catch & shoots, plus pull-ups] in the 4th quarter; B. Defend, at the #3/SF or #4/PF with good length and athleticism; and, C. Rebound, at the #/SF or #4/PF position with good length and athleticism.

vii. The long term effects of the “health scare” which their owner, Paul Allen, had last season, that artificially “pushed forward” the team’s perceived “development arc” this past summer in a way which their team was unprepared to cope with at this time … i.e. trying to “win now [!]” instead of gradually continuing their “incremental build-up” over an extended number of years [5-7?].

If Kevin Pritchard truly understands what’s been happening with his squad this season, from a team-building standpoint, then, what he’ll do now is:

I. Not try to “replace” Oden from outside his current group of players;

II. Continue to repair their internal relationships with Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Fernandez;

III. Move Andre Miller for another better-fitting asset, asap;

IV. Allow his group of Core Players to continue to grow together organically … while integrating this off-season’s main additions from the 2009 NBA Draft, i.e. Dante Cunningham [PF-SF], Patrick Mills [PG] and Jeff Pendergraph [PF].

If Kevin Pritchard does things things and then simply waits on the eventual return of Greg Oden … what he’ll have on his hands, 2 seasons from now, is a fully grown team that is ready, willing and able to challenge the Lakers, as the No. 1 outfit in the West, just as Kobe Bryant’s “development arc” is finally beginning to flow downwards its end-point.

On the other hand …

If Kevin Pritchard does not understand these things about the state of his own team, then, what he’ll do instead is “continue to try and rush” the Blazers through this key stage of their “upward arc” … which involves “learning how to lose before learning how to win”, just like Jordan’ Bulls and Zeke’s Pistons and Hakeem’s Rockets and Robinson’s [and Duncan’s] Spurs and Shaq/Kobe’s Lakers each went through before emerging as multiple-time league champions … then what he’ll do is make the WRONG MOVE at the WRONG TIME and end up blowing this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity which has come his way in Portland, i.e. to construct one of the NBA’s all-time great franchises with the likes of [youngsters] Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Travis Outlaw, Martell Webster, Rudy Fernandez, Nicolas Batum, Jerryd Bayless, Dante Cunningham, Patrick Mills, Jeff Prendergraph and [a healthy] GREG ODEN, plus [oldsters] Joel Przybilla [C], Steve Blake [PG] and Juwan Howard [PF].

The ball is in Kevin Pritchard’s court.

For the Blazers’ sake, it’s important that he doesn’t drop it.

PS. FWIW … Please know that ”curses” do not exist in pro sports. Poor decision-making skills – e.g. bringing injured players back too soon, acquiring ill-fitting players, trying to speed up the development process, etc. - on the other hand, can be found in abundance. :-(


Latest injury will derail Oden for good

Where to now for Portland?

Blazers confirm Oden’s season is over

Blazers take another small step forward

Blazers take another small step forward

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

“A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.”
- Lao Tzu


Portland 122, Chicago 98: Everything falls into place for Blazers
For a night, at least, order was restored within the Trail Blazers. Brandon Roy was back at shooting guard and controlling the pace and precision of the offense. Andre Miller, steadfastly saying he is accepting the reins of the second unit, played perhaps as hard and determined as he has all season. And the inside combination of Greg Oden and LaMarcus Aldridge was dominant like never before.  

The Blazers didn’t just beat Chicago on Monday, they overpowered them — dunking over, cutting through and stepping all over the Bulls during a 122-98 victory in front of 20,383 at the Rose Garden, its 79th consecutive sellout.

“A number of things are just starting to come together,” said Roy, who had 18 points and seven assists despite sitting the final eight minutes. “I think guys are back in their natural positions and we sensed that we have to get this going, too.”

Oden tied his career high with 24 points to go along with 12 rebounds, and Aldridge recorded his fifth double double of the season, finishing with 24 points and 13 rebounds. While the Blazers’ big men helped create a 50-32 advantage in points in the paint, the perimeter duo of Roy and Miller (16 points, five assists) not only flourished in separate units, they also thrived when they played together.



Building a championship calibre organization in the NBA is about making small steps forward each and every day … not swinging for the fences.

In Portland … it’s only a matter of time.


Diamond in the rough finally begins to glisten

ROI … Surprises comes in different forms, in the NBA

Monday, July 6th, 2009

* Tyler Hansbrough makes his summer league debut. Those who think that Larry Bird made a mistake with the No. 13 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft are going to be in for a surprise this season.

* Colangelo works fast and hard to get Turkoglu. Hedo is many things but a player who “creates” shots working off the dribble he is not. Expect THAT from him, without the benefit of a pick and you’ll be in for disappointment Raptors fans.

* What’s next? As the old adage goes: “Some of the best deals a team ever makes are the ones it doesn’t make, in the first place.” Solace for Blazers fans in the aftermath of winning losing the Hedo Turkoglu Sweepstakes.

* Buyer Beware! Things are not always as they first appear to be, when it comes to advantageous signings during the NBA’s free agency period.  

* Nick Collison says Thunder is ready for the next step. Sleep on Oklahoma City this coming season at your own peril.

NBA Double Jeopardy, for $2000: Three small ominous words Blazers fans should NOT want to hear right now

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

ANSWER IS: What are …

#1. Go

#2. For

#3. It

Or, exactly what Portland’s owner recently told Kevin Pritchard [GM] …

Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen tells his GM: Go for it
Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen has told general manager Kevin Pritchard to upgrade the team’s roster for next season, adding suspense, intrigue and pressure to what already figures to be a critical juncture in the team’s pursuit of a championship.

“Overall, our timeline has moved up,” Pritchard said last week after one of several offseason meetings with Allen. “We need to take it to the next level.”

Although Allen wants improvement every season, this summer’s edict comes at a crucial time. The Blazers are one of the league’s brightest teams on the rise, coming off a 54-win season and the franchise’s first playoff appearance since 2003. A bad trade, or free agent flop now could be the difference between a dynasty or a dud.

The big question, of course, is how Pritchard goes about improving the league’s second-youngest roster?

Does he listen to coach Nate McMillan’s desire for experience? Does he flex the team’s enviable muscle in the free agency market? Does Pritchard relent to his daring, go-for-it nature and make a blockbuster trade? Or does he sit on his hands as he did at last season’s trading deadline, when he made no moves in order to let his young team progress “organically”?

“Those propositions haven’t come to the forefront yet,” Pritchard said in the waning days before Thursday’s draft.

It’s a jumbled picture right now, with many possibilities and options open to the Blazers. But this much appears to be certain: The Blazers will be a major player when the free agent market opens July 1, and they are open to trading out of Thursday’s draft.


Upgrade the team’s talent for next season?

Please ….

As is, the Blazers’ player roster for 2009-2010 is already slated to be amongst the very best in the NBA:

PG – Steve Blake, Sergio Rodriguez, Jerryd Bayless [Brandon Roy?]

OG – Brandon Roy, Martell Webster [Rudy Fernandez?]

SF – Nicolas Batum, Rudy Fernandez [Travis Outlaw?]

PF – LaMarcus Aldridge, Travis Outlaw, Channing Frye

C – Joel Przybilla, Greg Oden

despite being the second-youngest average aged in the league.

Upgrade the team’s talent?

Is Paul Allen joking????????


The view from here says that now is NOT the right time for the Blazers to attempt their first dive from the High Tower.

Portland [Kevin Pritchard, GM/#1 and Nate McMillan, Head Coach/#2, below] has done a terrific job rebuilding their house, from the ashes which were left following the 2005-2006 season, when they won just 21 games, by:

#1. Drafting and trading in a masterful way, i.e. 2006 NBA Draft; 2. 2007 NBA Draft; and, 3. 2008 NBA Draft …


#2. Posting increasing Win Totals for 3 successive years, i.e. 2006-2007, 2007-2008, and this past season.

Now is the Lakers’ time to shine in the spotlight of the Western Conference, as the Blazers’ young guns gradually acclimatize themselves to life in the Playoffs … by going deeper and deeper each season, for the next 2-3 years, i.e. dabbing their toes in the water this year, swimming for the deep end next season, treading water thereabouts for a while [i.e. bobbing up and down] and ONLY THEN being in an actual position to dive-in, headfirst, for the treasure that lies at the bottom of the sea, where only the very best Jacques Cousteau’s can go … without incurring the bends

Yes, the Blazers have 5 picks in Thursday’s NBA Draft [i.e. No. 24, No. 33, No. 38, No. 55 & No. 56] but by swinging for the fences TOO SOON, in their development as a TEAM … instead of simply allowing more of their own players to evolve naturally and then adding key free agents at a later date, as need be, to get over the “proverbial” hump … they run the very real risk of seeing their hard work go up in a puff of smoke, right now, by adding the wrong player [e.g. Hedo Turkoglu] at the wrong time to an already potent mix.

Patience is a virtue … especially in the NBA … for those seeking to become The VERY BEST in their chosen field.

The current situation in Portland fits into THIS category.

Minor tweaks are okay. Seismic ones are not.

Time is on your side. Be Patient. JUST LET IT HAPPEN.

Day 4: Game by game prognostications for the NBA Playoffs

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

Yesterday’s action finished with the following results:

W-L: 0-2
Units: -3.16

which is a long way from par.

Overall, after Day 3:

W-L: 3-6
Units: -6.53

The good news is that with each game that passes, more is learned about the current state of these 16 playoff teams and where exactly the better investment  opportunities can be found, as the Playoffs progress.


Tue Apr 21 2009

Game 1 – 1/CAVALIERS vs 8/Pistons

Do not like the way the Pistons caved in during the latter half of the 4th quarter in Game 1. LBJ & Co. have their pedal to the metal right now and may open up even earlier this game vs what looks like a dispirited crew of from the Motor City. Can’t help but be leary, however, when asked to lay that many points against a tested outfit like the Pistons. Will sit back & watch, instead, with an eye focused on the upcoming Game 3.

Detroit +11/+104
CLEVELAND -11/-112
Call: Pass

Game 2 – 4/BLAZERS vs 5/Rockets

As much as Portland seemed like an attractive move on the weekend, there was much to like about the vim & vigar which Houston brought to the table on the road in Game 1. Aaron Brooks is going to be a tough cover for the Blazers all series long … unless Nate McMillan is brave enough to see the solid match-up possibility he has on his bench with the under-utilized Jerryd Bayless, who is thought to be a poorous defender overall but who is also quick enough, in this instance, to at least cause some worry for the diminutive floor general of the Rockets. As was mentioned in this space earlier this season … a major weakness for the Blazers heading into this post-season is the defensive deficiency of Steve Blake [PG]. A second viable which McMillan has at his disposal is to finally go with the Blazers best option at the PG-spot, i.e. Brandon Roy, right from the start, instead of waiting to “close” with him. Closing is not an option when you’re down by 30 in the 3rd Q. This would accomplish several things for Portland, not the least of which is get their best offensive player away from the “Deadly Duo” of Ron Artest and Shane Battier at the Wing positions for the Rockets. Who would Portland then go with on the Wings, in place of Roy? It would be terrific if they had a healthy Martel Webster ot insert right about now. In lieu of that, however, Rudy Fernandez would begin the game at the Off Guard position as the running mate to Nicolas Batum, with Travis Outlaw then sliding down to the SF position, where he is a much more physical presence for the Blazers … necessary to combat the size and strength of Ron Ron & Shane … and opening up a big man slot for Channing Frye [who can stretch Houston's D with his J] to get additional minutes as the 4th player in their front-court rotation, i.e. Przybilla & Oden at Center; Aldridge & Frye at Powr Forward. Moves like these are what separate the Top Notch coaches in the NBA from the also rans. For their part, the Rockets need to realize the opportunity which they now have in this series … against a rattled, inexperienced outfit like the Blazers, who were really shook in Game 1. Play with similar intensity and unselfishness again this evening … centered around the stellar work of Yao Ming, Aaron Brooks, Luis Scola [who just really knows HOW TO PLAY THIS GAME, like his Argentian brethren, Manu & Fabricio], Battier, and Artest – but also very ably supported by the likes of strong, physical role players like Carl Landry, Chuck Hayes, Kyle Lowry and Von Wafer, at their respective positions - and the Rockets will be sitting in the catbird’s heading home to the Toyota Center.

Houston +6/-103
PORTLAND -6/-105
Call: Houston [2 units]

Game 3 – 1/Lakers vs 8/Jazz

The Lakers are going to win this game; take that to the bank. What is far less certain, however, is whether their relative lack of depth [in comparison with the Jazz's lengthy list of capable subs] and all out focus on the prize at the end of the rainbow will in fact allow them to pull away and THEN sustain their energy to get the cover. With 10 seconds left on the clock in the 4th quarter of Game 1, Utah was down by 13 points, intercepted a Lakers’ pass and had a wide open 3 from the TOTK to make the final margin 10 points, when the closing numbers were LA -11.5/-110. There’ll be far better games ahead on the schedule for the Lakers during this post-season. Trying to stay healthy and get to Utah with a 2-0 series lead might just be all the Lakeshow cares about this evening, and the cover be d*mned.

Utah +11.5/-105
LOS ANGELES -11.5/-105
Call: Pass

What the Blazers NEED most heading towards the playoffs

Friday, March 20th, 2009

The Portland Trail Blazers are 2nd in the Northwest Division with a 43-26/.623 W-L Record, 1 game behind the Denver Nuggets, and hold 6th place team in the Western Conference … after failing to qualify for the playoffs last year. 

This is the Box Score from their game last night, a tough loss at Cleveland, in OT [92-97].

This is the Full Play-By-Play.

These are some of the observations made by Henry Abbott, a die-hard Blazermania Fan, based on what he saw in this game and hoped for Out-of-the-Box-thinking which he felt might have made a positive impact on the eventual outcome for Nate McMillan’s team coming down the stretch.

What you might not realize, however, about this current edition of the playoff-bound Blazers is that they are doing this work this season without the services of their Starting Off Guard-Small Forward, Martell Webster, who put up these numbers for their squad last year:

05-06 POR 61 18 17.5 0.399 0.357 0.859 0.5 1.7 2.1 0.6 0.3 0.2 0.70 1.50 6.6
06-07 POR 82 27 21.5 0.396 0.364 0.705 0.5 2.4 2.9 0.6 0.4 0.2 0.93 1.50 7.0
07-08 POR 75 70 28.4 0.422 0.388 0.735 0.7 3.2 3.9 1.2 0.6 0.4 1.11 2.10 10.7

and has missed 68 of their 69 games played, so far, this season.

Instead of going with the crunch-time line-up suggested by TrueHoop’s author, what yours truly is really looking forward to seeing from the Blazers down the road … whether later this spring or next season … is this specific 5-Man Unit on the floor together with the game on the line:

PG - Brandon Roy [6-6, 211]
OG – Martell Webster 
SF – Travis Outlaw [6-9, 207]
PF - LaMarcus Aldridge [6-11, 240]
C - Greg Oden [7-0, 285]

When the Blazers’ overall team health is such that they can field that specific group, in a playoffs series, with the likes of:

PG – Sergio Rodriguez
PG – Steve Blake
PG – Jerryd Bayless
OG – Rudy Fernandez
SF – Nicolas Batum
PF – Channig Frye
C – Joel Przybilla

in reserve, they will be a legitimate contender to reach the Western Conference Finals.

Need for QUALITY DEPTH on a NBA roster

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

Each season in the NBA, some organizations make an effort to slide by with something less than a full comportment of capable, high calibre players on their roster … e.g. see the Toronto Raptors this season, as Exhibit A … while still seemingly trying to make some noise in the post-season tournament.

In sharp contrast to this strategy, other top notch outfits, in the NBA, either (i) at The Apex of the League already, or (ii) in The Up-and-Coming category … e.g. see the Celtics, Lakers, Pistons, Hornets, Rockets, Jazz, Suns, Spurs, Mavericks, Magic, 76ers, Cavaliers, etc., as Exhibits B thru some-other-letter-in-the-alphabet … seem to understand implicitly the basic folly involved with this method of operation, in a League where injuries, both minor & major, are a constant hazard over the course of an 82-game regular season schedule pock-marked with back-to-backs, mini-stretches of 4 games in 5 nights, and extended road trips. 

How important is it to have outstanding QUALITY DEPTH on your roster, if you hope to ever compete legitimately for a Final Four spot in the NBA?


Webster out at least eight weeks with foot injury
The euphoric aftermath of the Trail Blazers’ electric start to the exhibition season was dealt a somber dose of news Wednesday when Martell Webster, the front-runner to start at small forward, was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his left foot.


Pretty darn important, according to this corner.

When one of a team’s key players goes down with an injury … the only squads that can survive & eventually conquer are the ones with a plethora of 1st-class NBA players on their roster, ready, willing, and capable of stepping-up to meet the challenge when the opportunity presents itself.

It says here that the Portland Trial Blazers will still be able to give a good account of themselves this season, primarily, because they now fit firmly into The Up-and-Coming category of Top Notch teams in the NBA with outstanding QUALITY DEPTH on their roster … which should allow them to replace a solid young player, like Martell Webster [No. 6 (overall) Draft Pick, 2005], with yet another solid youngster, like Jerryd Bayless [No. 11 (overall) Draft Pick, 2008], and insert him into the mix with the other burgeoning talents they have right now in the form of Greg Oden, Brandon Roy, Travis Outlaw. Rudy Fernandez, LaMarcus Aldridge, Channing Frye, Sergio Rodriguez, Ike Diogu, Nicolas Batum, etc.

It is pure nonsense for anyone … e.g. a casual fan, a so-called NBA Expert, or a real life GM … to think or suggest that an NBA team could conceivably have too many talented [and, therefore, highly serviceable] players on its roster … at any point in time, given the nature of the competition in this League, on a game-to-game basis.

Anyone who trys to tell YOU that Less is somehow equal to More, in this League … in regards to the overall QUALITY DEPTH on a specific team’s player roster … is quite simply doling out the KOOL-AID, big-time, to you.

Fore-warned is fore-armed; and, shame on you, if you choose to drink it.