Pretty Much Screwed: The Portland Trail Blazers
Welcome to “Pretty Much Screwed,” our 2012-13 guide to the upcoming NBA season, in which we identify the reasons why your favorite team might have to start looking forward to 2013-2014 — and highlight at least one reason for you to be hopeful. Today: the Portland Trail Blazers, home to such rotting body parts as Greg Oden’s and Brandon Roy’s knees.
I just read The Breaks Of The Game by David Halberstam, and it’s quite the literary masterpiece. For those who don’t know, it follows the plight of the 1979-1980 Portland Trail Blazers. Though the team made the playoffs in that season, the overall tone of the book was rather depressing. The team was broken down, missing Bill Walton and full of personalities too disparate to connect fully on the court.
So, why is this pertinent in any way? Bill Walton started the long line of injured Portland centers, continuing with Sam Bowie and Greg Oden. The basketball gods have overtly tried to explain to Portland that drafting a center is not a good idea, yet they continue to follow that trend. So while Meyers Leonard may project to be a good player, you can’t discount curses. It’s like the Madden curse. Remember when Peyton Hillis, of all people, won his way onto the cover of Madden? He paraded around the various networks thanking his fans for voting him on, when secretly he was crapping his pants because the Madden Curse never fails. Ever. Calvin Johnson will have an unfortunate run-in with Bernard Pollard this season, I CAN FEEL IT.
HOWEVAH, the bigger issue, QUITE FRANKLY, is Portland’s lack of depth. LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Wes Matthews, Damian Lillard, J.J. Hickson and Meyers Leonard are solid players, but Joel Freeland and Luke Babbitt could play significant minutes. This is distrubing on many levels, most notably because Joel Freeland played for Great Britain in the Olympics. Remembers those gangly terds running alongside Luol Deng? Joel Freeland was one of them.
Somehow Nic Batum got a huge contract, and Portland will regret this.
On the bright side, the Trail Blazers have solid cap flexibility and their biggest asset (LaMarcus Aldridge) locked up long-term. Too bad they blew a ton of money on Nic Batum, a player who does nothing particularly well except OMG ATHLETICISM MAKES ME HOT AND BOTHERED, but on the right team he can be effective. But again, too bad this isn’t the right team. At all. It’s frustrating when NBA teams secure role players before a role can be fashioned. You need superstars and a pecking order for their to be true roles, but the Trail Blazers are currently LaMarcus Aldridge and everyone else. If Wes Matthews is their two-guard of the future and Damian Lillard becomes a top NBA point guard, Batum will be the 4th or 5th offensive option. You don’t pay $11+ million a year for four years for a younger Shane Battier. He also wears No. 88, and that’s annoying as shit. It’s waving a giant “fuck you” in the face of referees. (Basketball jerseys, out of courtesy, should never have more than 5 in one of the digits so refs can signal the number with their hands easily. Batum is shitting on this tradition. I blame LeBron James for switching to 6.)
Actual Season Prediction: 8th seed in the West. I know I know, how could I give them the benefit of the doubt after acid-tounging them for a few paragraphs? Well, let me explain. I attended the NBA rookie photo shoot by some haphazard bit of good fortune, and had the opportunity to shoot some hoops with the rookies as they waited for their photos to be taken. My friend had a shot of his rejected by Tyler Zeller, who proceeded to laugh because blocking short people is a pastime for seven footers. But most rookies, like Zeller were launching threes and generally lollygagging around. Not Damian Lillard. He was practicing his dribbling. I love his WORK ETHIC TEAM PLAYER CARES ABOUT BASKETBALL TIM LEGLER ORGASM.