Monday, April 14, 2008

Today in links: April 14

Just two games left in the season, so you'd better enjoy these Blazers-related stories while they last. Then again, once the draft buzz gets going there's enough content out there to waste weeks of productive work hours reading about potential new Blazers.

• Joel Przybilla gets some much-deserved props by way of a "Letter to the Editor" from Louis Pain, which would be a great name for a professional wrestler.
As a Blazer fan, I wanted to thank Joel Przybilla for saving this season.

Brandon Roy is the team leader and LaMarcus Aldridge his right-hand man, but Joel is the heart and soul of the Blazers.

Joel's 2006-07 season was a nightmare, but instead of licking his wounds during the offseason, he re-dedicated himself and reported to camp in the best shape of his career and with a revamped free throw shooting technique.

Had Joel not put in that offseason work and then sacrificed his body each and every night this season, can you imagine what this year would have looked like? The word "fiasco" comes to mind.

Instead, despite most predictions the Blazers improved upon last season's record -- even in the absence of Greg Oden and last season's top scorer and rebounder, Zach Randolph.

Next season, Oden will presumably start at center, but that won't really represent a demotion for Joel.

Likely his minutes won't diminish at all, and now both the first and second units will feature a dominant presence in the paint.

The Blazers and their fans are very fortunate to have Joel Przybilla; he's a gem.

• Brian Hendrickson answers some of the questions he posed at the beginning of the season.
4. Who is this team’s best fit as the starting point guard — Jarrett Jack or Steve Blake?

This question has evolved into a different quandary: Is there a point guard on this team that can lead it to the next level? Blake has been solid, but he has not convinced anyone in the organization that he can get a team over the hump to championship contention as the starter. Jack’s play, however, has reduced the organization’s confidence in him because of his soft defense and propensity for momentum-swinging turnovers. The Blazers will need to decide soon how much time they can afford to continue giving Jack time to develop. If they could keep only one point guard right now, you can bet Blake would be their hands-down selection.

I chose to highlight that question because it's the one I hear the most often.

• Hendrickson also conducted an informal poll of other beat writers regarding who they're picking for most improved player. According to Hendrickson, LaMarcus Aldridge comes in at a distant second to Hedo Turkoglu. Too bad. Maybe they can hand out another award to the most valuable player who hasn't been in the league for EIGHT YEARS and who isn't playing alongside the best center in the NBA. LaMarcus might have a shot at that one.

• Some people seemed to get a little bent out of shape after reading Brandon Roy's comments in Jason Quick's game story after the loss to the Kings. I guess I can understand that, but try to put yourself in Brandon's shoes. He just played one of this worst games of his career. He's sitting in the visitors locker room. He's in Sacramento, tired, probably a bit humiliated and definitely sore as hell. He just got done playing his 2,683 minute of the season, 667 more than last season. And now people are asking him about what there is to play for. Try to keep that in mind.

Part 2 of the Blazer's Edge interview with Chris Bowles, Director of Player Programs for the Trail Blazers. gives some love to Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge for their super sophomore seasons.

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