Alright, it’s here! Blazersland Mailbag #2 where I answer your questions regarding the Portland Trail Blazers.
What is Zach Collins potential/ceiling? – Bryan B
Zach Collins is still raw. He is only in his 2nd year in the NBA. There is a lot to be excited about. He has a natural and already near proficient ability on the defensive end of the floor. He is a rare big with the speed to guard between the arc and the basket. His high motor and fearlessness have propelled his development. He is already a regular rotation player and would probably be a starter if Portland’s front court were a bit deeper.
As the NBA has moved away from the rim, Collins is the ideal stretch four. He can play both power forward and center. He can also navigate on help defense to pick up small forwards outside the arc. His offense is still unpolished but he is showing glimpses of what he is capable of. He can attack the rim with intensity, hit clean jumpers from the high post, or shoot 3s with utmost confidence. The perimeter game is strong with this one.
Zach has a career high of 17 pts which he achieved twice this season. He is averaging 10 points per game and 3.7 rebounds. He needs to work the boards more(he has a career high of 10 rebounds) but that will come.
At his floor Collins is a reliable rotation player. In his prime he is likely to be a solid starter. His ceiling at least a fringe if not perennial all star. I expect him to be Portland’s starting power forward by next season.
Small sample (I know) but what early season Blazer trend has you the most excited? – James H
Several trends come to mind when I think about what I have seen so far from the Blazers. The quicksilver chemistry, the bench scoring and presence, not to mention the sustainability on the boards sans Ed Davis(the Blazers are second in the league in both offensive and defensive rebounds).
The most exciting trend for me would have to be the high octane scoring. The Blazers are versatile and fast. They have been living by the three, trying to secure consistency. They have attacked the paint with regularity. They are finding their rhythm, mostly with an ease Portland fans were not accustomed to seeing last season.
The Blazers have averaged 117.3 points per game and are 5th in the league in that category. That is up from 105 points per game last season(16th). The Blazers so far in ten games played, have had six 120+ point games and 2 110+ games. It is still early in the season. Those numbers may not sustain, but this is surely a good sign for things ahead
One trend I want to see more from the Blazers is an uptick in assists. They averaged 19 last season and are at 20 per game this season. In the preseason they averaged 24 per game, allowed by a focus on ball movement, and that extra pass to get high field goal percentage shots.
The Blazers ball movement has stagnated a bit as they get used to running against different teams defenses. They often get caught and isolated, and the flow ceases. A continued effort on keeping the offense in gear along with some fine tuning of the rotation will aid in getting those numbers up, and boosting that trend.
With the question regarding potential new ownership in the near future, will the front office still be looking to improve the roster as needed by the trade deadline, or will the team largely be in idle until new long term ownership is solidified? – Jason O
First off, excellent question. As the season moves on, the continued atmosphere and brand of basketball Portland fans are accustomed to remains. In all the excitement, the familiarity, and the comfortability, one may temporary forget that Paul is no longer here, and then be hit again by the shock of recollection. His death continues to hit deep not only because he personified the greatest dreams of Blazer fanhood, but because his absence leaves a gaping hole of excruciating uncertainty when it comes to the future of the team.
As fans we want to know what is going to happen? Who will buy the Blazers? Can he/she/they be anywhere near as passionate an owner as Paul? Is that possible? Can we go to bed and sleep comfortably knowing that the house that Paul built won’t soon be vacant? Can we be assured that the franchise he adopted and grew to love and call his own will remain in Portland? It is unfathomable that not only an era, but a franchise could be at its end.
Neil Olshey let fans know during his preseason press conference that despite the loss of Paul Allen, his ability to complete trades has not changed, been suspended, or limited.
“There are enough advocates for the Trail Blazers, of wanting to see us do well, that it would get done, and there would be even more fluidity because of wanting to do things on behalf of Paul,”
Where before Neil got permission for moves from Paul, who okayed trades through a shooting of a succession of quick emails and texts back and forth, for a yes or no, Olshey now has to answer to Vulcan. No, not Spock.
Vulcan is a corporation created by Paul and his sister Jody Allen in order to house all of his philanthropic ventures and business projects, aimed at bettering the world. A subsidiary of that corporation is Vulcan Sports (Vulcan Arts +Entertainment) which controls the Blazers and Seahawks. Paul till his death was the chairman.
His sister now takes that role and Blazers President Chris McGowan is the CEO of the company. Paul’s sister has let known she is not interested in running the day to day operations for a sports team, let alone two.
Being that the Blazers are now controlled by an entity, driven by business and not motivated by passion for the game or team as Paul was, such unease and uncertainty are understandable and perhaps reasonable. Neil will no longer be able to just call up Paul and get a yes, inspired by the possibility of contending for an elusive O’Brien trophy. It feels like he will have to call up a boardroom of guys in suits, pitch moves and wait awkwardly on hold for answers. It feels very “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”
Neil will probably not get his way like he did with Paul. There may be more nos than yeses. The wallet is tighter, especially with the Blazers about eight million over the cap. If the Blazers do make moves it may be to save money rather than to improve the team. Businesses are about making money.
That said, there is some comfort in knowing that the Blazers president Chris McGowan and Vice Chairman, Bert Kolde are part of Vulcan’s board. Kolde especially. Allen’s college roommate and a childhood friend is one prospective buyer. He has been around the Blazers since Paul has, and is one of his greatest confidants. He knows Paul’s vision for the team inside and out. He is the continuity the Blazers need.
If he ends up buying the team as part of a group (perhaps with the help of Paul’s other longtime friend and partner Bill Gates) than Portland could let its shoulders untense, in a collective relief. For now, knowing that he is there behind the scenes, as a voice for the Blazers, means perhaps Portland and Neil can breathe easy…for now. Kolde is one of those “advocates” Neil spoke about. Maybe that means the Blazers will be just as likely to make some trades to improve the team come the deadline, as though Paul were still here. We will see.
That is the second 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 email@example.com