- NBA Rank: 27
Conference Rank: 14
- Portland Trail Blazers
The past always seems better when you look back on it than it did at the time.Peter Benchley
It wasn't that long ago that the Blazers were winning around 50 games a season and regularly making the playoffs. Then, owner Paul Allen decided that it was rebuilding time! Since then, the Blazers have been shuffling deckchairs in all parts of the organization. We will evaluate whether this has amounted to anything (spoiler alert: not so much), and whether the Blazers can expect more of the same this season.
The meme of the "Treadmill to Mediocrity" was popularized by Kevin Pritchard, who was the Blazers general manager from 2007-2010. The idea is that if a team regularly is "mediocre" and loses in the first round, it's a worse place to be than if the team is bad. The logic is that a bad team can grab top draft picks and rebuild. But this logic completely falls apart when we examine empirical evidence. However, for Pritchard himself, it's probably true. The worst place for a general manager to be is on the treadmill of mediocrity. Pritchard got fired despite the fact that he helped construct a very good team.
|J.J. Hickson ||2323||25||.203||9.8|
|Eric Maynor ||572||26||-.026||-.5|
|Ronnie Price ||510||30||-.026||-.3|
Indicates that the player is no longer with the team.
It's very interesting that the Blazers chose to listen to Pritchard then. Their rebuilding has brought them Damien Lillard, who won rookie of the year last season. And unfortunately, we see the Blazers have decided to go for a "Knick it up" strategy. You see, the Blazers have pinned their hopes on "star" forward LaMarcus Aldridge. While Aldridge scores a lot, he does so at a below average rate. And he doesn't do much else well. Lillard is a little better, he's an above average scorer, but not by much. Really, he just shoots a lot, and doesn't do much else well either. Thus the Blazers had an "All-Star" in Aldridge and the "Rookie of the Year" in Lillard to go with a losing season last year.
|Robin Lopez ||5.0||1796||25||.068||2.5|
|Dorell Wright ||2.9||1443||28||.134||4.0|
|Mo Williams ||1.2||1265||31||.004||.1|
|Thomas Robinson ||4.3||731||22||.033||.5|
|C.J. McCollum ||1.0||617||22||.103||1.3|
|Earl Watson ||1.1||481||34||.071||.7|
|Allen Crabbe ||2.0||363||21||.048||.4|
Indicates that the player is new to the team.
The offseason didn't get much better. They stuck with the scoring mentality and let J.J. Hickson go and picked up Robin Lopez. They also picked up Mo Williams, another overrated scorer who also happens to be ancient. It wasn't all bad (they did pick up Dorrell Wright and draft C.J. McCollum), but their good pickups will play behind Lillard, Batum and Matthews. In short, the few steps forward the Blazers may have made were undone by their poor team construction strategy.
They say things go in cycles. The Blazers have gone from being a strong team to a scrub team before. It's possible they'll return to being a contender. It won't be any time in the near future though. The Blazers are following the classic "Yay Points!" strategy. Unless there's a major shift, Portland fans can expect to see the Blazers at the bottom of the Northwest for the foreseeable future.
The Second Opinion Patrick shows optimism
Dre is being overly bearish on Damien Lillard. It's true that Damien was not the deserving rookie of the year (that honor belongs to Anthony Davis or Andre Drummond). It's also true that he didn't do much other than score. But Dre glosses over the fact that .075 is actually quite good for a rookie, and that 23 year-olds tend to improve every year. There's no reason to believe that he'll remain a one-dimensional player, and I think Arturo's projection at .093, while not wrong, is conservative.
Having said that, I agree with Dre that I have no idea where the optimism on this team is coming from. They've swapped Hickson for Lopez, and they are essentially hoping that the team is going to improve dramatically simply through Lillard making a big 2nd-year leap. That's a lot to hope for.