There was a time, about a year and a half ago, that the Portland TrailBlazer franchise’s depth-chart was perfect. Perfect. Typing that feels like I’m self medicating myself with a little bump of hyperbole, but it’s true. While my exclusion from the Comcast umbrella, which locked out my faithful viewership, happened to occur at the same time the lineup began to crumble, the timing is simply coincidental. The year I refer to is the 2008-09 roster. The year we lost to the Houston Rockets in the first round and saw a 54-28 season sail away. No biggie, right? We’ll come back next year with more experience, a better team dynamic, and for the love of God, Greg Oden for a full season. Well, Greg came back for a mere 21 games and while we did make the playoffs again, getting knocked out by the Suns, it was the beginning of the end. Ok, so I won’t go over every player individually, I will say, the following notable players are no longer Blazers, and I am despondent about it:
I grew up with this dude. Not literally, but I followed him at Maryland when he won the championship with Juan Dixon, and loved his clutch performances all year long. Now, after popping around in the NBA and admittedly spending ‘…his best years with the Blazers,’ he’s a Laker! A Laker! He is getting his minutes though. With Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic leaving to NJ, the backup point guard position is wide open behind Fisher. He’s putting up 2 assists and 4.5 points in nearly 20 min per game down in Los Angeles. If I was Cho, or I guess Pritchard at the time, I would have chose Blake over Andre Miller any day of the week. Surprisingly, I wasn’t consulted on the trade.
I should have lead with this guy. He remains my favorite player in the NBA, purely due to his attitude. When he was dropped into various roles with the Blazers, as a 19 year-old rookie mind you, he didn’t play much, but learned a lot. Today, he’s able to drive or pull up and take a jumper with ease. Travis has consistently improved his game each year and when his confidence is high there is no stopping him. The Blazers do this- It’s the Jermaine O’neal effect. We invest time, effort, coaches, and wait for the seed to develop, and then trade ’em away for a handful of magic beans or an experienced big man to replaced the consistent injuries to our own giants. Anyways, I am bitter, but he didn’t get the minutes he deserved here. He’s starting now in NJ and appears to be having a decent, although streaky, season.
Another point guard to leave. I really like his aggressiveness and drive to become a great player. Ever since I watched him in an And 1 video, Bayless has impressed me with his ability to use his skill more effectively and more quickly than everyone else on the court. Now, he’s up in Toronto, resting what looks to be a pretty severe ankle injury. The replacement for Bayless is Armon Johnson. I do understand that Bayless was a bit of a wild card when compared to Johnson, I don’t care, Jerryd was fun and this is my blog so screw the responsible selection.
Ok, this pick is really better off in Phoenix, I just miss him. He brought a lot to Portland. He maintained a blog, made consistent appearances, and always seemed to embrace the community. But wow, this guy belongs with the Suns. All his stats are up, along with, most importantly, his minutes. Even with Oden’s constant injuries, Channing rarely saw the minutes he deserved. His style of play also mimicked Aldridge pretty closely and the Blazers need a presence inside that is, well, stronger. I guess I just liked the person, or at least the persona, rather than the ball player. I constantly found myself yelling at the screen, telling Channing to box out, play better D, or just stay in the paint. But that’s not his game. He’s a guard in a forwards body. He loves to float the perimeter and that flows right into the Suns style.
While he didn’t play much due to injuries he was an integral part of the core group of small forwards who wanted more minutes. Now, in Minnesota, he’s putting up more points in less minutes, so, there’s that. The problem was too many small forwards. If we want to keep Rudy and Batum we had to make some sacrifices, I guess. I just don’t like it.
Looking back at those five players I do realize the best decisions were made. There is a reason my fantasy basketball teams always failed due to my favoritism and not going with the ‘smart choice’. I also am aware, as mentioned earlier, the fact that I watched every game between the ’06-’09 season, then moving across the state forced me away from Comcast heaven and into a life of ESPNews, radio broadcasts, and those stupid gamecasts things. It just sucks. Overall, my point is: the team comradery these past years has slipped without these players. Oh, and the injuries haven’t helped much either. Thats all. Thanks for letting me rant.