Friday, October 26, 2007

RIP City is Back, Even Without Greg Oden [Snave]

I have been a fan of the Portland Trailblazers since the inception of the franchise, and it still looks like “Rip City” is on the way back from the dreary "Jail Blazer" days of Isaiah Rider, Shawn Kemp, Qyntell Woods, Bonzi Wells, etc. despite the loss of #1 NBA draft pick Greg Oden for the season to knee surgery. Why am I optimistic?

Last season, SG Brandon Roy was the NBA’s top rookie. Big man LaMarcus Aldridge (pictured above) was developing into a good ballplayer, and SF Martell Webster and SF/PF Travis Outlaw continued to make strides. In his second season at PG, Jarrett Jack did a good job for coach Nate McMillan. Add in the fact that 7-foot defensive specialist Joel Przybilla seems to be healthy and Channing Frye has been added in the offseason trade of Zach Randolph (dubbed “Z-Fat” by many Blazer fans) to the Knicks, and it seems like Portland is definitely a team on the way up. PG Steve Blake was added to the roster, and he may actually start at his position. F James Jones was also added to the team. At any rate, between Roy, Jack and Blake, the plays will be made. The front line will get its share of rebounds. During the exhibition season, Aldridge, Webster and Outlaw have all shown tremendous improvement, to the point that Aldridge will start at center and Webster will be the starter at SF… watch out, Martell can drain threes!

Utah, Denver, Seattle and Minnesota are the other teams in the NBA’s Northwest Division. I don’t know how Portland will stack up against teams like Phoenix and San Antonio, but I like their chances in their division this year, and I would be willing to bet they will finish in the top three.

Even with Oden rehabilitating his knee, this season will still be fun for all of us who are Blazer fans, although next season can’t be too far back in our minds. For now, we will take what success we can get, and take pride in the solid young players the franchise has acquired and has continued to develop.

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