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Bobcats vs TrailBlazers Preview

I traded questions leading up to the game with Matt from BustABucket. My answers to his questions are here and now for my questions and his answers:

Q. I noticed the poll on BustABucket asking who the Blazers should be targeting in a trade, with Gerald Wallace among the nominees. While Crash was running 4th (of the 4 options), it was with a respectable 21% of the vote. Do you see Gerald as a piece that could help a contender or as someone who gets his stats because of being on a bad team?

A. From a Blazer fan standpoint I see Gerald Wallace as a more polished and more experienced Travis Outlaw. I think the draw of Wallace for Portland is that he would seemingly fit right in and become a near perfect piece at the small forward position. For years we've been waiting for Travis Outlaw and Martell Webster to develop into that piece, but Outlaw remains inconsistent and lacking on defense, while Webster has been out all year with an injury. There is a faction of Blazer fans who are ready to trade now and win now. Another group is willing to wait it out. the funny thing is sometimes those two thought processes will battle it out in my own head. But, when I sit back and think about it, I will wait it out.

Q. I also saw Jerryd Bayless' ridiculous dunk against the Nets on Sportscenters' top 10 plays…and remembered that he was one of the players the Bobcats passed up to draft D.J. Augustin. While Augustin has been good for the Bobcats, plays like that dunk demonstrate some of the qualities that make Bayless appealing – good size for his position and ridiculous athleticism. From what you have seen of the two rookies, did the Bobcats make the right choice or did the Blazers get rich at the Bobcats expense? (I know it is early to be judging draft picks, but for the fun of it)

A. There was a story floating around the blogs back in June which more or less hinted that our GM Kevin Pritchard had “tricked” the Bobcats into taking Augustin. I have no idea if this is true, and in the pro sports world there is no sympathy for being tricked. You can't fall into the hype that goes on during pre-draft and if Charlotte did, then they have to live with it. Regarding the comparison of the two rookies thus far, I think D.J. has had some really impressive moments but also seems to be experiencing inconsistency. Augustin was viewed as very similar to Damon Stoudamire who was undersized at the position and not a good fit. Bayless hasn't had a ton of real NBA game experience but he is starting to get more run. His performance in New Jersey was just a glimpse at what he can do. Jerryd is capable of doing so many things for Portland, he can defend just about any point guard in the league, he can shoot, penetrate and draw fouls, his athletic ability and strength is truly incredible. The sky is the limit for him, and I am completely onboard.

Q. The Blazers seem to have a wealth of talent at every position, and young talent at that. This year, only one looks like an All-Star (Brandon Roy), and that generally is not enough to be a true title contender. Would you like to see the Blazers move a couple of their young players for an established star to help them compete sooner or do you want to see what this core can develop into over the next few seasons?

A. I eluded to this a little in the first question, but I'll expand on it here. I think it's human nature, at least in current society to want something now. In professional sports the need to win now has gotten out of control. As much as I would like to go to the playoffs and contend this year, I think this team needs to wait. If you consider that four rookies are making an impact this year, and two third year guys are the super star and a top offensive option, we are incredibly young. We can't break this up now and I doubt we will. My hope is that we keep pushing this year and make the playoffs. I believe that a playoff series will do wonders for our young players. So, anyway, standing pat is the right decision unless of course Kevin Pritchard decides we need to deal, then I will stand by the decision.

Q. I read somewhere that the Blazers are lacking for perimeter defenders (aside from Batum); if I could I remember where I saw that, I would reference it, but I am not scouring the net for it now. Do you agree? If so, do you see the Bobcats being able to exploit it?

A. Yes, you are correct about the Blazers lacking perimeter defense. Nicolas Batum has been a bright spot in that regard since Martell Webster went down. Since we struggle so much with the one on one perimeter game, many times we end up in a zone which, if the opposing team gets hot, can be very destructive. Our coach is very defensive oriented and he wants nothing more then the team to get after it on D. It's difficult to get the two Spaniards and Outlaw to play lockdown D when they are also relied on to provide offense or run the offense. Eventually something will have to change because defense will be the key to Portland becoming an elite team someday.

Q. For the final question, we go free response, and you can choose which route to take: A) Play the what-if game where the Blazers selected Durant instead of Oden; or B) Key Matchup for the Bobcats and Blazers.

A. Durant instead of Oden, this question surprisingly continues to get plenty of talk amongst Blazer fans. Theoretically, had we drafted Durant, our starting line-up would include Blake/Bayless, Roy, Durant, Aldridge, & Prybilla. That would be a very formidable starting five but it just doesn't sound right to me. I'm not sure Durant fits in as well even though he is quite obviously an elite level player. I like having Oden as a starter with plenty of potential and Przybilla as a scrappy back-up. Much more versatility in the line-up and a more balanced attack. Oden's defense will also be very important to the success of this team. I personally wanted Oden and I am still very happy we have him. Patience will be a virtue, as he still needs to time to get acclimated to the NBA game. Having been hurt all of last year and injured at Ohio State, the potential may not be realized until next year.