Blazers All Access
The silver lining for Portland fans is that twenty-six days from now, the misery that has been the Portland Trail Blazers 2011-12 season will officially come to an end. The sad thing is, that means there are still fourteen games left to sit through before the rebuilding of the once proud franchise can take its first step.
Unfortunately for fans, we have had to sit through two weeks of a team masquerading around as a professional NBA team.
Charles Barkley recently stated that the 2011-12 Kentucky Wildcats would have a chance of beating the Toronto Raptors and former Maryland bench boss Gary Williams thinks that the ‘Cats could take the Washington Wizards.
Anyone willing to throw the current Blazers roster into the mix?
Since the trade deadline, the Blazers have posted a 4-5 record with only two significant victories to speak for. The first came the day after the implosion as the Kaleb Canales coaching era was welcomed with a 100-89 victory over the Chicago Bulls sans Derrick Rose.
The second W worth writing home about came at the expense of the Memphis Grizzlies 97-93, a team currently holding down the sixth spot in the Western Conference, a spot that many expected the Blazers to occupy at the start of the season.
While it goes without saying that LaMarcus Aldridge and Nic Batum are performing up to standard, it seems as though unfortunately the roster changes have not improved the end of season run for Jamal Crawford.
In only his first year with the team, one that held great promise, the homecoming has proven to be a failure for Crawford and all signs show that both parties will travel different paths next season.
Since the trade deadline, Crawford has been stuck in a Kobe Bryant like shooting slump, shooting 26% from the field and topping the twenty point mark only once (March 18, 23pts vs. OKC).
On the flip side, knowing that his stock had hit possibly an all time low and that he was rumored to be losing his starting spot to Steve Blake, Ray Felton has finally started to put up some impressive numbers.
Hitting over double digits in six of the eight games since March 15th, Felton has also tallied at least five assists a game during that stretch.
It could be possible that Felton, who was all but shown the door out of town at the end of the season, could possibly find himself returning next year with the knowledge that after three previous stops (Charlotte, NYC and Denver) that this may be his last opportunity to show he is a starting point guard in the NBA.
Once a promising young forward with the Cleveland Cavaliers, J.J. Hickson soon found himself pulling splinters out of his rear in Sacramento, before the Kings put him on waivers and the Blazers soon found their spark plug off the bench.
While his rebounding numbers could use some work, the energy that Hickson has brought to the second unit may find a place on next years roster.
If Friday night’s crowning of DeAndre Jordan is any indication of the energy that Hickson can give to the team, the fans may have found a new favorite (Jonny Flynn‘s reaction almost exceeds that of Stephon Marbury’s face when Amare Stoudemire practically sent Michael Olowokandi into retirement).
While playoffs are all but forgotten, the theme for the Blazers this week should be one of redemption and salvaging some pride, as in the five games that they play, they are 0-5 against their opponents.
Two of the teams are playoff bound, one is on the fence, one should have been fighting to get into the postseason, but due to a Ricky Rubio injury they are now sitting slightly above the Blazers and the fifth team is counting the days until they relocate to Brooklyn.
Of those five squads, the Blazers have yet to face the New Jersey Nets this year and will welcome Gerald Wallace back to the Rose Garden on April 4th.
Unfortunately for the Blazers and their fans, becoming worse as the season carries on is one of the keys to becoming better next season. The depressing thing is, with so much promise for this year, next year feels so far away.
LaMarcus Aldridge: 49 games, 1048 points, 21.4 ppg
Nic Batum: 50 games, 693 games, 13.9 ppg
* J.J. Hickson has a higher average, but has only appeared in 5 games*
LaMarcus Aldridge: 49 games, 397 rebounds, 8.1 rpg
Nic Batum: 50 games, 216 rebounds, 4.3 rpg
* J.J. Hickson and Joel Pryzbilla both have higher averages, but have appeared in 5 and 17 games respectively
|Joel Przybilla||C||Ques Mon - Knee – 4/1/12||Przybilla missed Sunday’s game against the Timberwolves with a knee injury. He is considered questionable Monday when they host the Jazz.|
|Nolan Smith||G||Ques Mon - Ear – 4/2/12||Smith is dealing with a left ear infection and did not play in Sunday’s game against the Timberwolves. He is considered questionable to play Monday against the Jazz.|
|Shawne Williams||F||out for season - Foot – 3/15/12||Williams has undergone surgery, which required three screws to be inserted in his foot, and will miss the remainder of the season.|
|Elliot Williams||G||Out indefinitely - Shoulder – 3/11/12||Williams suffered a dislocated shoulder during a post-practice workout session on March 8th. There is no set timetable for his return.|
IN THE COMMUNITY:
Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews is the recipient of the Kia Community Assist Award for February in recognition of his outstanding efforts in the community and his ongoing philanthropic and charitable work.