My take on losing GO and the 2007 season
The Team can still have a great season when you consider that Brandon Roy and Lamarcus Aldridge missed more than 20 games each & the Blazers still won a total of 32 games. They also missed playing without their best defensive player Joel Pryzbilla for most of the season. The Blazers will also learn from mistakes they made last year when they were not prepared for teams like Memphis and the other lower echelon teams. Winning the close games that they threw away last season will push the Blazers win total to 40+.
I expect the Blazers to be competitive in almost every single game with the two best players on the team healthy, along with the improved shooting from Webster and the addition of James Jones.
Oden missing the season is like he stayed in college another year while Lamarcus Aldridge continues to develop showing everyone why he was the #2 pick in the draft.
Next season the Blazers will add Oden, Rudy Fernandez and a top pick which could turn out to be a player like Kevin Love from UCLA.
The thought of adding Oden, Love & Fernandez makes the Blazers a very attractive team for the next 10+ seasons. I haven't been this excited about the Blazers since 1989.
Blazers Don't Pass GO!
Keving Pritchard played it smart and made Greg Oden the #1 pick in the NBA draft giving the young team the center it needs to go along with Rookie of the Year Brandon Roy & All Rookie First Team member Lamarcus Aldridge.
Pritchard was a busy man on draft day - after choosing GO, Pritchard sent Zach Randolph, Freddy Jones and Dan Dickau to the Knicks for Channing Frye, Steve Francis and a 2nd round draft pick in 08'. Throwing Jones into the deal gave the team a 3million salary bonus which they used in the next trade with the Suns.
The Blazers sent the Suns 3million cash for the rights to the 24th pick Rudy Fernandez and 6'8 SF James Jones. This was one of those rare deals in which the Blazers did not take back a bad contract to make this trade work for them. Fernandez is expected to play in Europe for at least another year unless the Blazers buyout the contract for $500,000. Fernandez could turn out to be a one of the steals of the draft. He reminds me of Manu Ginobli with better hops. Video of Rudy Fernandez is available on the front page of the blog.
The Blazers grabbed Up & Coming Point Guard Petteri Koponen from Finland with the 30th pick. PK is a 6'4 guard who has a nice "feel" for the game, a classic pass 1st point guard which I liken to Steve Blake. Tough kid who coaches love to coach - Great Potential. Koponen will most likely play another 2 years abroad and fans should expect him to be in training camp for the 2009 season. Josh McRoberts fell into the Blazers lap at #37 - McRoberts is an underrated passer for a big and should be a good role player for the Blazers.
The Blazers got value with the 52nd and final pick grabbing Taurean Green who was the Florida Gators starting point guard on their Back to Back National Championship teams. I like Green but unless the Blazers plan on having 4 guards on the roster - you should expect to see Green playing for the Blazers NBDL team in Idaho.
The start of training camp is a little over a month away, check back later for updates on the most exciting Blazer season since 1989.