Alright, it’s here! The first edition of Blazersland Mailbag where I answer your questions regarding the Portland Trail Blazers.
Do you think the Trail Blazers will be better this season, be that 50+ wins and/or a better showing in the playoffs? And why? – Eric Millegan
That depends on your idea of better. Will they be a better 3pt shooting team? Yes. Will they be better on defense? No. Does Curry + Stauskas + Simons + Trent Jr – Davis – Napier – Connaughton = better? Yes and no. The Blazers ejected two parts of their core in order to gamble on 3pt shooting. They are worse in the front court. They will miss Davis sorely on the defensive end. They are depending on Zach Collins to pick up the slack around the basket. No Davis also means more Meyers Leonard who will mainly shoot threes in short bursts off the bench. But, that is where the Blazers are headed this season, shooters, shooters, and more shooters.
The Blazers are also working on passing the ball better. This was evident in the first quarter of the Blazers opening preseason game vs the Raptors. The Blazers moved the ball well and had something like an assist on nine straight possessions. This is going to do the Blazers wonders in alleviating suffocating defenses on Lillard and McCollum, not to mention Curry and Stauskas will be far more consistent than Napier and Connaughton. So, the Blazers will do far better keeping opponents defenses honest.
Where were we, oh yes threes, threes, and more threes. The Blazers offense is going to be focused heavily around the arc. Last season the Blazers shot 2308 three pointers, and made 845 of them. Expect both numbers to go up. Expect the Blazers to make more. That in itself will equal more wins for the Blazers.
The Blazers had 49 wins last season. This season the western conference is even harder. Lillard gets better every year. McCollum gets better every year. The Blazers have the tools and the talent to make fifty wins. I believe they can eek out a few more w’s than last year to get past the mark. Do they do it? We will see. The Playoffs? You talking about the playoffs? The Blazers have made the playoffs the last 5 years in a row, I don’t expect them to stop now. Will they have a better showing? If they can reformat the offense to take defensive pressures off the front court, and have consistent offensive output from players not named Lillard or McCollum, they stand a good chance of competing in a series.
Are you satisfied with the pieces that have been put around Dame? – James H
Short answer: No. Longer answer: While I am not satisfied with all the pieces put around Dame, there are some pieces I think are good. Still, most still feel like stop gaps. The Blazers have had a lot of trouble getting elite players to Portland to play with Dame. We can’t expect that to suddenly change. What we can expect to happen is the continuing revolving door of role players, gambling with the draft, and those low risk high reward diamonds in the rough, like Harkless.
I think Nurkic is a fantastic piece. He is really the ideal type of center to play along side Lillard. He does a little bit of everything. He is mobile, passes well, runs the pick and roll like nobodies business, and is a force to be reckoned with around the basket. That and he is still young. McCollum is of course a great piece, as he and Damian make one of the best back courts in the NBA. CJ’s star may not have risen as high as Damian’s yet (it may not as long as he plays next to Lillard) but he can take over games similarly when he gets hot. Aminu and Harkless are valuable pieces, in that they are swiss army knives for the Blazers. Zach Collins is an exciting prospect. He is young, coming off his rookie season, and has a lot of untapped potential. He could very well be the Blazers future starting power forward if he pans out. Anfernee Simons is money in the bank. He is going to be a cold blooded combo guard. There is no doubt about that.
The issue is there is a lot of youth in Portland. Too much. Damian Lillard’s window isn’t going to last forever. Simply experimenting on new role players and draftees isn’t going to get it done. Portland needs to break the curse and get some elite and veteran talent to Portland stat.
It has come to my attention that the granny shot is quite a hot topic. Give us your thoughts on the subject. Something more than “It worked for Rick Barry” – Kjironman1
It worked for Rick Barry. Sorry, couldn’t help myself. The granny shot free throw is a bit novel in the NBA to say the least. It started with big man George Mikan who had success with it, shooting 78% for his career from the charity stripe. Wilt Chamberlain tried it out, and shouldn’t have quit. His free throw percentage went up ten percent from one season to the next. Though it was only 68% (He was a terrible free throw shooter) his percentage was in the fifties before that, and dropped into the forties and thirties after abandoning it. Of course Rick Barry used it, and his son Canyon who plays over seas is also an underhander.
The granny shot has worked for more NBA players than it has not. It seems to work for Chinanu, so I am not going to knock it. Shaq was far too embarrased to go underhand. God knows he could have used it. His one hander was just as silly looking. Maybe guys like Deandre Jordan, Dwight Howard, and Andre Drummond should try it out. What is it going to hurt, ego I guess.
That is the first edition of Blazersland Mailbag. If you want to see your questions answered in the next edition, submit them via the mailbag form at Blazersland.com/submit-questions/ -OR- by emailing them directly to firstname.lastname@example.org