Jeff Rabjohns of the Indianapolis Star (known as the "IndyStar" on the internet), checks in with our friend Greg Oden. It's a nice summer read, but there's one passage that I take severe exception with ...
Oden forever will be compared to Kevin Durant, taken immediately after Oden in the 2007 draft. While Oden has dealt with injuries, Durant has become a star with Oklahoma City. Oden also has the unfortunate circumstance of playing in Portland, where fans vividly recall injury-prone centers Bill Walton and Sam Bowie.The first two statements are true. Oden will probably always be compared to Durant, and GO has battled injuries while Durant has put up two successful seasons, at least from a statistical standpoint. But the third statement about the "unfortunate circumstance of playing in Portland" is bunk, for a couple of reasons.
First, not many in Portland remember Walton for his injuries; they remember he was the main cog in the 1977 Championship. There's probably plenty of people who beleive the Trail Blazers could have added at least one more trophy to the case if Walton could have stayed healthy, but that one championship is what people remember, not Walton's foot.
Second, are there a lot of people in Portland comparing Oden to Bowie, or even recalling the memories in regards to Greg? There's plenty of people outside of the area, haters if you will, who like to bring that up, but as far as Portland fans are concerned, the careers of Bowie and Oden have nothing to do with each other.
John Schuhman at NBA.com looks at the Lakers signing Ron Artest, floating the idea that one of L.A.'s reasons for bringing in the "TruWarrior" has to do with ... Brandon Roy.
One guy who was better than Artest in on-off court differential was the Blazers' Brandon Roy. Portland was a +9.4 per 48 minutes against the Lakers with Roy on the floor last season, and a -18.8 with Roy on the bench (which includes one game he missed due to injury). That's a +/- differential of 28.2, highest among anyone who played 100 minutes against the Lakers in 2008-09.Makes some sense. Roy is the best shooting guard in the Western Conference after Kobe, so I wouldn't be surprised if other teams consider that fact when making personnel decisions. Then again, getting Artest keeps Kobe from having to guard the opponents best wing player. That probably played a bigger role in the acquisition.
Consequently, no Western Conference team played better against the Lakers than Portland. The Blazers were the only West team that didn't have a losing record against L.A. in '08-09 (they were 2-2) and were outscored by only nine points in four games.
It's reasonable for the Lakers to see Portland as their biggest threat in the West, and Artest's signing plays into that, too. Artest wasn't exactly a Roy-stopper last season. In nine games against the Rockets, Roy shot 43.0 percent with Artest in the game and 48.0 percent with him on the bench. Overall, the Blazers had a better +/- per 48 minutes against the Rockets with Artest on the floor (-4.7) than with him on the bench (-7.3).
But when you compare Artest to Trevor Ariza, the Blazers probably aren't too happy about the small-forward swap the Lakers made with the Rockets this summer. With Ariza playing for the Lakers against Portland last season, the Blazers were a +11.3 per 48 minutes (dramatically better on both ends of the floor) and Roy shot 55.6 percent. With Ariza on the bench, the Blazers were a -14.1, with Roy shooting 33.3 percent. It's a small sample size (Ariza played just 90 minutes against the Blazers last season), but those numbers are pretty startling.
Kerry Eggers at The Portland Tribune checks in with a very interesting article about Bill Schonely and the end of his full-time broadcasting career.
My man Wendell Maxey at Beyond The Beat questions whether the Trail Blazers got tougher in the offseason.
When I think of toughness – particularly physically - on the Blazers, one guy comes to mind: Joel Przybilla.Over at Blazers Edge, Dave asks his readers what the best and worst of Trail Blazers fans, and Ben relays some interesting information about Brandon Roy's contract.
Who else? Brandon Roy, Steve Blake and Greg Oden could join that discussion. But is that it?
And where would you rank Portland in a toughness category across the league? Top ten? That may even be a stretch with the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston, Orlando, San Antonio, Cleveland, Denver, Utah, New Orleans, Houston and even Atlanta holding it down.
Bust A Bucket has links to some funky Trail Blazers items you can buy on EBay. I think I might make a run for that coffee mug.
Rip City Project relays information from KP regarding Nic Batum, and Larry Miller's thoughts on Brandon Roy, with corresponding commentary.
Finally, the 365 Days Of Greg Oden photo project continues. In today's edition GO gets his picture taken in front of a carton of egg beaters.