Alright, it’s here! Blazersland Mailbag #3 where I answer your questions regarding the Portland Trail Blazers.
So give Blazer fans some hope! Is the hope just Dame is that good? -James H
Well James, Blazers fan could certainly use some hope. If your referring to championship aspirations, even Dame won’t be enough. We already know he is that good. But, he can’t do it alone. He needs help. More help than the Blazers currently have on the payroll.
And, what a big payroll. The Blazers have the third highest payroll in the NBA. One would think with that kind of moola being spread around, Portland would have a contender on its hand. Yet, the Blazers aren’t one of the big dogs, but rather secondhand lions.
You might blame it on the GM, the coach, or player effort. And, they are all owed some chunk of the responsibility. The biggest perpetrator maybe Portland’s small market. You can’t get big stars here in free agency, so you pay big to keep young players here in hopes that that they become stars and more than decent role players. You gamble. More than not you lose.
The Blazers are on the losing side of that game with most of their current investment. So, yeah the hope is that Lillard is that good. But, it is also that some of these other guys step up and make something of themselves. The hope is that CJ takes the next step and stops playing isoball. That Collins has what it takes to develop into our PF of the future. That Simons gets a little age on him, a little experience and blossoms into a freak of nature.
But, these hopes lay in the distance. They aren’t realistically there for today. If your hope is in Turner, Harkless, or Meyers. If it is in Stauskas or Curry. Then it is probably a futile daydream. This is a place card season. Next season probably too. But, after Turner, Hark, and Meyers are gone. After Collins and Simons get a few more years and the Blazers are able to make moves. There will be lot more room for hope in Ripcity.
Should Blazer fans wear a paper or reusable canvas bag over their heads? -Bryan B
Paper bags are easier to decorate and write messages on. While reusable canvas bags are harder to cut holes in for the eyes and mouth. Fans can alternatively not cut any and just sit in the stands (or at home) taking in the game without sight.. If you are paying to see the game, it may be a waste, but then as of late, the way the Blazers are playing is perhaps, better not seen.
Also, this is Portland, a highly environmentally conscious city. Both options are reusable and one at least is recyclable. They both are functionally applicable. Though, the canvas bag will doubt be better at carrying your tears home after the game if you are in attendance.
Explain the sudden collapse of the team in the last couple weeks? -Josh B
Defense. Poor and sometimes no movement on offense. Lack of assists (See above sentence). The inability of the Blazers to adjust to opponents systems of play. Player slumps. Players coming back from injury, still adapting.
It is hard even excruciating at times to watch. The passionate fan base is beside themselves about it. They want to blame Olshey, Stotts, the Players. They want to shake their fists at the basketball gods. Voice their ire with the most overly emotional dramatics. I know. I’ve done it.
But, then I call it for what it really is. It’s a slide. They come and go. Feel often, more like a seesaw. This particular slide stings a bit more because of the strong start to the season. It’s just static electricity. Soon, the Blazers will start winning again and it will fall by the waist side. No worries.
The Blazer forward situation seems to leave fans frustrated. Who should they give minutes too at the 3 and 4? -James H
Yes, frustrated is a good word. The forward positions are the Blazers weakest positions and biggest headache. When the Blazers next make moves, whether its at the deadline or next summer, (probably the latter with the Blazers ownership in limbo) look for these positions to be the focus.
The Blazers could really use a 2 way player at the starting three. Jake Layman started at the 3 till Harkless got back. Neither are starting caliber forwards. Layman has taken a good leap since his rookie year, and wasn’t a terrible place holder, but he got the Vonleh treatment, starting but only getting 10-15 minutes. His numbers weren’t great, but he did open up the floor a bit.
Harkless is a talented and flexible player and can play both the 3 and 4. He has yet to find consistency and is now working back from an injury. Some question whether Layman should be reinserted into the starting line up till Harkless is 100%. It would probably give the bench more depth. But, it may be moving backwards.
Evan Turner gets most of the left over minutes there. The Blazers have tried to surround him with shooters and allow him to be a distributor. It has had limited success and Turners presence on the court has often hurt the Blazers.
I would like to see a bit more of Stauskas. It is a shame is defense gets in the way of him earning more minutes. He can really open up the floor when he is on.
Aminu does good things at the 4, he can shoot the 3, defend adeptly, and rebound. He can at times inject energy into the game. But, he is also a liability with his inconsistency. He is more of a bench player and in a year or two Collins will replace him as the starter.
For now Harkless should start at the 3 and Aminu at the 4 as is. It would be justifiable if Stotts reinserted Layman, but it won’t happen. We are going to have to continue to deal with Turner in the 2nd unit. The Blazers aren’t about sit a player making $17+ million. I’d give more of those minutes to Stauskas as he isn’t going to get a lot behind CJ.
Collins seems to play better at center where he can spend more time in the paint, though he is often played at the 4 and Meyers Leonard given more time at the 5. Collins should definitely play at the 4 when he is in with Nurk. When he is in with Meyers he should play the 5 while Meyers plays the 4.
That is the third 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