Thursday, December 5, 2013

Red Hot and Rollin'

Can you feel it? The Blazers are the best in the West. No doubt about it.
These Trail Blazers are legit. To legit to quit. *I'm doing the hand sign right now*

"Red Hot and Rollin'" is an old Blazer motto. Not anymore. This team is relevant even if the rest of the NBA doesn't see it. Oh the joys of a small market. No one looks at us up here in the rainy Northwest. Who cares? Let them look at the loss we hand them when they come to Portland. That'll teach 'em to forget about us.

No one saw this coming. I for one sure didn't. I posted a couple months ago that the Blazers would miss the playoffs. Granted, only 5 or so games separates us from the 9th seed. But here we are, alone atop the West. Enjoy the moment.

The best thing about the opening to this season is how fun it is. Granted, winning is fun, and we're doing plenty of that, but you can see the energy on the court. You can see the smiles on the court. You can see the smiles of Blazer fans everywhere. This is due to great team work.

I can feel it. The Blazers are the best in the West. No doubt about it.
I can feel the absolute jubilation for Rip City.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What We Know So Far

Finally, after a long offseason of dreary, disappointing news, the Blazers are back on the court! As sad as it is that the Rose Garden is (officially) no more. The newly dubbed Moda Center has been received with,  not much enthusiasm by fans. CJ McCollum, our instant offense, sixth man combo guard draft pick, who showed a lot of promise in summer league, broke his foot sidelining him indefinitely. What's worse is that he broke the same foot that sidelined him for the remainder of his season his senior year. But not all news is bad! There have been some really encouraging things so far this season. Here are a few.

Wesley Matthews Big Jump Forward
Wesley Matthews has gotten significantly better since his mediocre, injury filled campaign last year. After plateauing over the last three seasons, he has shown improvement in almost every part of his game. He is doing something now that I have never seen him do as a pro. He can now create his own shot and has done a fantastic job moving the ball. Between his improvement off the dribble and his improved playmaking, he has gone from role player to legit scoring option, which is huge for the Blazers. 

The Blazers New and Improved Bench
The biggest problem for the Blazers last year (apart from the ever present injury bug) was the Blazers awful bench. They averaged a league worst 18.5 points per game last year. But so far this year, it's actually been a strong point. Mo Williams is a perfect 6th man who brings experience and consistent scoring off the bench. Joel Freeland is the new White Gorilla. He fits a perfect role for the Blazers and creates dozens of second chances. Dorrell Wright hits the corner three and plays great defense. Thomas Robinson is a tenacious rebounder with a lot of potential and CJ McCollum will (hopefully) be coming back soon after the all star break.

Rip City still has a ways to go before it is a top 5 team in the West, but between the player development and the much better free agent signings of late, I am optimistic. I see playoffs in our future this year and hopefully for years to come. Oh and I forgot the most important move this offseason. NO MORE JAY JENSEN!!!!!!


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Moda Madness

The way it was. Perfect pinwheel placement.
My cousin and I went to the home opener at the Rose Garden on Saturday. Thanks to Moda Health and their insane ways of branding, two of the coolest things on the scoreboard above center court are now gone.

Remember the Portland city skyline that sat above the scoreboard? Gone.
Remember the giant Blazers pinwheel on the bottom of the scoreboard? Gone.

Hardly awkward. No skyline at top either.
The thing that peeves me the most is that the Moda logo covered up the Blazers logo on the scoreboard. If it was a Rose Garden logo I could understand, but covering the Blazers logo? It's basically saying Moda is better than the Blazers! Moda covering up the Portland skyline, well, of course, Moda's better than our city too.

Now we're just another bland corporate arena. And I leave with a blasé rah rah rah...

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Playoffs? Not yet.

We won't make the playoffs this year.
Here's why.
Unknown chemistry, new players (seven), with a new-ish coach.
There's too much to juggle. And and AND! The West is too strong.
It's another growing pains season. See below.
Sorta like the Trail Blazers

Lillard's numbers will be down. It's for the better. He needs the rest. We're lucky Stotts didn't RG3 this kid. And the fact the Blazers are mainly guards (nine) will cause Stotts to have odd rotations and experiments to try and give the Rookie of the Year some rest.

"Wait 'til I hit the dance floor".
Also, lack of experienced big men down low. We have Lopez and Leonard. Granted, I am most eager to see these two at the start of the season but c'mon, Leonard was as awkward as a geek at a high school dance last year. Leonard's work ethic is unstoppable, though. This kid has a future and I can't wait to see his improvements.

Rip City has a future, but, it will have to wait one more year.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A weed in the Rose Garden.

It's official, the home of the Blazers is now called the "Moda Center". I am not a fan. The Rose Garden was a perfect name, free of big wig branding. It captured the DIY style of Portland. The Moda weed has sprouted up in the Rose Garden. At least Moda Health is a NW based company. Formerly known as ODS as of May. I guess that's a saving point, of some sort. *Sigh* Whatever.

Hey! 13 is a lucky number, right?
"The Rose Garden put us on the map, the Moda Center's going to take us into the future," Trail Blazers president and CEO Chris McGowan said.

Really? The future?

Will free agents go: "Hey, forget Los Angeles, did you hear that the Blazers now play in the 'Moda Center'? I'm gonna sign there!" Get real.

The future of the team is decided by the play on the court, not by a new name and logo on the court.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Blazer tid bits

Damian Lillard is the Rookie of the Year. No surprise there. He won the award on a unanimous decision. Lillard was the 3rd rookie all time with at least 1,500 points and 500 dimes joining Oscar Robertson and Allen Iverson. Damian joins Brandon Roy, Sidney Wicks, and Geoff Petrie as the other Blazer ROYs.

Hey, guess who's not gonna have the "evil touch" for our Blazers? Trainer Jay Jensen has moved on. I know it's unfair to blame Jay for Greg Oden, Brandon Roy and all the other Blazer injuries. Jay Jensen is to the Blazers as Steve Bartman is to the Cubs. A true scapegoat. And now, that goat is out to pasture.

We got a new assistant coach. Nate Tibbits. Who? Yeah, exactly. Whoop-dee-doo. Probably the easiest job in the NBA is the assistant coach. This is hardly worth mentioning, but, he is a new addition to the Blazers.

Spring time is tough when we don't reach the post season. This upcoming draft is pretty lame. We've been preaching the same thing over and over from the IBB camp: TRADE FOR VETERANS. Peace.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Wal Mart Rose Garden

It's times like these that I like being a small market. I read in the Oregonian yesterday about new moves to try and find a sponsor for the Rose Garden. Their goal is to have the Rose Garden under a major corporation for the 2013-14 season.
That Rose Garden logo won't be like that forever.

Just like the Pepsi Center, Staples Center, or American Airlines Arena. It feels so cold and lame. The "Rose Garden" name will stay but it will be like the TD Garden for Boston. It will become something like the; "Wal Mart Rose Garden", or the "Netflix Rose Garden". It's going to be so cheap sounding but will bring the all mighty dollar for the Rose City.

I hate to see sponsorship come to the Rose Garden, but if it means more money in Paul Allen's pocket, thus, more money for the Blazers, thus a better chance at winning a championship, eh, I guess I wouldn't mind having a championship banner hanging in the "Chase Rose Garden." Heaven forbid it's named that.

Selling a piece of our soul to get closer to the ultimate prize is something we'll have to face. It's business. Don't take it personally. It's just business.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Jared Jeffries Release and Possible Moves This Offseason

As was expected, Jared Jeffries was cut yesterday. It's possible if he doesn't have a job when training camp rolls around, that the Blazers would resign him to sit the bench and fill in in case of injury which, lets be honest, will probably happen. But with JJ's, Babbit's, and Nolan Smith's contracts coming off the books, (we will see if any of those 3 are re-signed) the Blazers cap space could be up to 12 million dollars. There are few superstar talent players in this years free agent class, but that isn't what the Blazers need. They need interior defense, veteran help off the bench, and a bench that can SCORE. There are a few moves that I think could greatly benefit the Blazers, but we will see if it works out.

Nate Robinson

The guy is literally instant offense. He can score in many, many different ways and can play off the ball as well. He is undersized, but I feel like size at the guard positions is overrated if you can do your job. Nate's job would be come off the bench, put up around 15 points a game, and bring boundless amounts of energy to a lack luster second unit. 

Kyle Korver

The guy makes shots. Plain and simple. You can run him off screens, spot him up in the corner (remember James Jones in the corner after B-Roy drew the double?) He can bring shooting and offense off the bench, and you can create easy offense for him because he is so efficient at running off screens and reading his defenders. 

Tiago Splitter

Splitter brings solid defense to a really poor interior defensive team. Anyone who has played for Greg Poppovich knows how to play defense and play it efficiently. He's limited offensively, but can rebound well, finish around the rim, and plays very solid defense. Which is everything that the Blazers need in a big man off the bench. Chris Kaman brings a little more offense, but he's not as strong defensively as Splitter.

The Blazers have options which is what is important. But the big thing for this offseason is acquire VETERANS. Not more young players. We need experience not youth, we already have plenty of that. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

3 Positive Things and 3 Negative Things About The Season and the Future

A season like this is hard. Seeing your team fold towards the end of the season and knowing it's probably for the best is hard. But the future is far from bleak. That being said, all is not well. There are plenty of places to improve, and to BRING IN VETERAN HELP. PLEASE. Here are my top 3 reasons to be optimistic and top 3 reasons to be worried.

The Good

1. Damian Lillard 

The obvious brightest star in the Blazers universe is Damian Lillard. He is the run away, no questions asked ROY. He set the single season record for 3 point shots made for the Blazers and showed his best against the best teams including the Kobe Bryant lead Lakers, who called Lillard "The real deal." He is the most promising prospect since Brandon Roy and his healthy knees (May they rest in peace.) I had doubts about him a few weeks before draft day and thought that they could be making a huge mistake taking another guard especially with Aldridge's spotty health. After I mentioned that to my co-worker he told me to watch some of his YouTube highlight reel. I was sold from then on. The only question seemingly was his playmaking ability but I had no question about it. He had to score for his team they didn't really have the greatest talent at Weber State, so Lillard had to shine. Next for him is to cut down on turnovers next season, and increase the assist numbers just a tad. Make no mistake, he is the future and will take the NBA by storm in the next few years. 

2. Batum's Emergence as a Stat Sheet Stuffer

Wants and expectations for Batum were always too high in my opinion. He finally reached what I think will be his niché. He has improved tremendously as a passer, and has become much more aggressive on the boards. He has the potential next year to really become a lock down defender. He has all the physical attributes and he has come a long way with the mental part of playing in the NBA. The biggest thing to look for next season is if he takes on the responsibility of guarding the best player every game next season. If he continues to increase his numbers like he has the last 3 seasons and cuts down on the turnovers next season, he could put up Andre Iguodala like numbers. 

3.  The Number of Young Players They Have

The Blazers have 9 players on their roster under the age of 25. 5 of which were playing in their first NBA seasons. The only way for them to go is up. With a full offseason, full professional weight training regiment, and a full season of experience behind them, I'm looking for a huge improvement next year from Meyers Leonard, Will Barton, and Victor Claver. I was really high on Will Barton coming out of college and thought with the right weight training program and improving his jump shot, he has a chance to be a great 6th man infusion of energy. 

And it gives the Blazers the option to acquire some veteran players in exchange for some of these young players. Accumulating young players does you nothing but good. It gives you options to get some of the veterans that the Blazers desperately need. And the young only get younger with another lottery pick this year. I'm looking at you Anthony Bennett!

The Bad

1. No Veterans

While being young has its advantages, it also has its downsides. With the lack of general NBA knowledge, and under developed players (because they are young) it is tough to compete against the teams that have veterans that know their roles and are typically bigger and stronger. Veterans bring a special toughness to your team. I'd like to see the front office possibly make a move for someone like maybe a Nate Robinson or another high energy bench player to compliment Lillard.

2. Injuries, Injuries, Injuries

It's the story every year. Front page of the Oregonian is LA going down hurt, Batum going down, Matthews going down and on and on. Every year someone gets hurt and de-rails the season. You'd think they would change their trainer by now...

3. Bloated Contracts

Aldridge has a giant contract and Batum's is pretty pricey too. Batum definitely stepped up after his big contract and Aldridge has earned it, no doubt about that.  But it doesn't take away from how big these contracts are. And Lillard is going to want a new contract once his rookie deal is up and it won't be cheap. It may not be an immediate threat, but eventually they may have to make a choice on who they want to lead them into the future.  

The future is bright for the Blazers, but I feel like I have been here before. I've seen the potential with all our recent draft picks, our future stars, and our decent young players. It scares me to see all this potential because the only thing I can think of is we are one knee injury away from being right back where we started from. But I'm looking to the future. I'm looking to what we will be. And I'm optimistic for the first time since I saw Brandon Roy come off the court, never to return. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The obvious feelings I have as a Trailblazers fan during this near record setting losing streak are very negative. How in the world can this be happening to a team that "beat the Heat"? The answer is heart. You can't ask young rookies to be able to give their all during a stretch run of a losing season. They've never played this many games in their life, and to throw them out there to play more minutes than they have in their careers is an obvious wave of the white flag by the upper management of the team. The team has been in some of these games in the 4th quarter, but they've dug themselves into large holes in the process as well. Depth has been an issue throughout the season and now "injuries" to some of the vets has forced a greater role on such players as Meyers Leonard, Will Barton, Victor Claver, and Joel Freeland. During this stretch the Blazers have started 4 rookies in some of the games. Damien Lillard has performed admirably during this stretch, but where have the other players been? Lamarcus? My opinion of this guy has gone down with each and every game. It's one thing to want to be the quiet leader, but there are young guys looking up to you. Batum is not without blame either. He has been nowhere to be seen. Some might say that these guys have been injured. Sure, that's one way to put it. But I didn't hear of any career threatening injury to either of these guys. Shoulder strains and bruised elbows don't take weeks of non-contact to get better. You guys have all of the off season to heal. Show some heart, even if that means just a few plays. Show the youth of this team what it means to push through adversity. Wesley Mathews did it earlier in the year by putting up a three on a bum wheel and riding the pine the rest of the game. Win one. Get off the schneid. Next year I want results, not another rebuilding effort!!!!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Veterans, we need vets!

Seven points in the third quarter against OKC? Seven? Really? Why am I not surprised? Ugh.
Olshey at a press conference. Twiddling his thumbs.
Another season nearing a much needed end. The one shining spot is Lillard. He's the odds on favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award and that's key for bringing talent to Rip City. We've got some cap space and we need to bring in some veterans. Remember when we had Andre Miller running the point? Or when Juwan Howard and Kurt Thomas would  help out the younger guys? Knowledge, not youth this off season. If we can get some mentors for Meyers Leonard (boy, does he need it) we can get something vital to basketball, a basketball i.q. I don't care how high you can jump, how much you can bench, I and the fans of basketball care how smart you play the game. Sure, Will Barton, you can jump, but why do I cringe every time you bring the ball up the court? Oh, because you have a room temperature i.q. at your position.

Get some veterans this off season, get some b-ball smarts for our young guys, get to the playoffs.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Beat L.A.

Well, what's left to say? Going into tonight's game against the Mavs the Blazers have lost 7 straight. Our 2 time All Star's been injured, as well as Batum, and the Blazers have fallen into that deep chasm yet again.

There is still one task to take care of: Beat L.A. What I would give for the Lakers to miss the playoffs. I would love to drag the Lakers into the off season abyss with us. We're eliminated from playoff contention, lets eliminate the Lakers too. 

After all, misery loves company.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Meet "Blazers Fan"

Meet "Blazers Fan." A big 'ol afghan my Auntie Pie made me for X-mas when I was eleven. She passed a couple years ago and I have this awesome piece of bedding to remember her by.

I envision her sitting on the couch with a storm howling outside, Bill Schonley's voice on the radio; "Bingo, Bango, Bongo", "Lickety brindle up the middle," "Rip City, yes sir." And My Aunt crocheting this. My favorite part of the blanket is the "Rip City" stitch work. I love how it's on there twice. It's where I call home and my team calls home.

On another seemingly cold Blazers season, Blazers Fan keeps warm.