BLAZER WIN STREAK GOES TO 6
The Blazers are doing something the last few games that I was not sure that I would EVER see this team do. Beating the teams they are supposed to beat, convincingly. A blowout Win over Vancouver, Charlotte and Weds game vs Indiana showed one thing, that at lest for now, they have developed some sort of a killer instinct. I cant help but feel it has to do with a few things, one of which is Bonzi Wells. Bonzi is not the regular starter, and no he still needs to learn how to pass the ball better. But he does something few other players, let alone starters do: Move without the ball. What used to be a skill that almost everyone had to do, Bonzi is one of a handful?
Its only partly Bonzi getting significant minutes that Has helped. Dunleavy has FINALLY learned a little something I could see forever and a day ago. Dunleavy has lostened his iron grip on the offense, allowing the Blazers to get more in the Open court, which allows Wallace, Wells, Stoudamire and Pippen to be at their best. These are guys that can score in a Half court or set offense, but they are far better in a "Flow" offense, that includes Fast breaks, going to the player that feels hot, as well as not being so predictable helps this team greatly. Now they really do have a chance to get as good as possible, and Win the West. I truly had my doubts before. But if Mike allows the freedom to run the offense to the team, at least to a point, the Blazers have not only a better chance to win the west but go the entire season without a major trade.
Now, I like Arvydas, pretty good player even at his age, nice passer and a piece of the Blazers offense that is missed whenever he is out. Much as I liek him, he is 35 and he is well, slower than mollasses in January. I would have no objection to bringing him back for a couple of more years as center, but I think the time is NOW for the Blazers to start looking to get a good young center they can develop. Look, Right now nobody is going to trade a big time center, even one over the hill. the Reason Patrick Ewing was delt, was that he wanted to play 3 more years. If Dikembe is delt, its because Atlanta fears losing him for nothing. nobody is going to trade a top guy or a prospect unless they get alot back in return. Guys like Erick Diampier,Olowakandi,Doleac and the like may be avalible, but 2 of them have badly underachived, and not sure if doleac is really a center or a PF. That leaves the draft route. In the next 2 years or so, there will be some..at least good prospects entering the draft. Tyson Chandler, Loren Woods, Diop,Eddy Curry possibly.
Yes, I know Blazer fans, that 2 or 3 of the top big guys are high shoolers. No ffense to J O'neal but the year he was picked, by some accounts, he want even the best player on his team. these guys are already close to 7 feet tall and 260 to 290 lbs in some cases. Jermaine was closer to 6'9 than 6;11 when he came in, and he would have had to be soaking wet and carrying weights to be the 215 to 225 that some listed him at. Curry,Diop, and Chandler are all raw in some aspects, but they look ok, Diop may be the least know but the best of the 3 from the reports that are coming out nationally.
Loren Woods and some of the otehr centers coming out the next 2 years are not great, but will be good mid level guys. guys that can get you about 12 and 8, which is exactally what portland needs. Woods is a good shot blocker, which I think portland can use,but others are better ball handlers, and shooters than he.
Yao Ming is the question mark that is making everybody alernitly drool and clutch their stomachs. Drool, because the guy is 7'6 NOT a stiff, that can shoot to 20 feet, hit hook shots all day, and is not so fragile as to look or seem like a Manute bol, Gheorge Muresan or Bradley. The problem with him, is as he is chinese, there will be a number of steps to jump thru. An interesting note is thogh, his favorite player in the NBA is Arvydas Sabonis he has been in the area and reportedly likes it. The Blazers also have some marketing angles that other teams do not have. I imagine to get the next superstar, that Paul allen would let the team play in china and pay totally the cost of rembursment to the Shanghi Sharks ( mings team) for more info on him, read the Espn the Mag article on him.
If worse comes to worse, the Blazers can play Saw wallace or Davis full time at the center position. Or, take a chance, or a player such as a Bryant Reeves, Olowakandi, or Bradley who I imagine could be gotten for not a huge amount. If we see a trade, and a High draft pick comes to portland, unless there is the NEXT, KG,Kobe,Vince or Odom there, look for portland to take a Center