Blazers to Acquire Robinson in Trade

thomasrobinson

According to multiple reports that surfaced earlier today, the Blazers acquired Rockets power forward Thomas Robinson. In return,  the Blazers will send the rights to Marko Todorovic (45th pick in 2013 draft), the rights to Kostas Papanikolaou  (48th pick in 2012 draft), and two future second-round picks to Houston.

Robinson went 5th in the 2012 draft, right before Blazers guard Damian Lillard, to the Sacramento Kings. His time with the Kings came to an abrupt stop when he was traded less than halfway through the season to the Houston Rockets. In Houston, he wasn’t given much playing time to prove himself. With the Rockets pursuing Dwight Howard through free-agency, they needed to clear cap room, removing Robinson.

When rumors of the trade surfaced, people were unhappy with the Blazers because in his rookie year, he wasn’t producing as he was expected to do. He came into the league with high expectations and hasn’t lived up to them. To the people who have that mentality, I say “it was just his ROOKIE year!!!”

I’m sure Robinson will play at the level of play everyone expects of him, but I think he started at a position further away from where he needs to be than where everybody thought. I’m sure that sentence sounds confusing, so let me explain. Imagine his progression as a player as one timeline, with the right-most point being his ceiling. He started at the left-most point, but people thought he would be a further to the right.

In his first year in the league, Robinson averaged 4.8 points and 4.5 rebounds. Currently, Robinson isn’t the greatest offensive player, but can rebound, which will more than likely be the backbone of his game throughout his career. Playing behind Blazers All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge will DEFINITELY help. Also, playing under Coach Stotts will help. Before coaching the Blazers, Stotts was an offensive coordinator for the Dallas Mavericks. He s responsible for Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki’s crazy one-legged post moves. It’ll be interesting to see how Robinson will look after the season, assuming he isn’t traded AGAIN.

I think this is a great move by Blazers GM Neil Olshey. I view this as a low risk, high reward situation, and I think that both the Blazers and Robinson will benefit from the trade. It brings depth to the Blazers down low, but is still a situation in which Robinson will get meaningful minutes.

How do you guys feel about the trade? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

~BlazersBySagar

Draft Day Recap

2013 NBA Draft

Draft day has come and gone, but boy was it eventful. I think Blazers GM Neil Olshey has proven himself to be an elite “drafter,” if you can use that name. He drafted very well in both the first and second rounds, and also made a very nice trade.

In the first round, the Blazers drafted LeHigh guard CJ McCollum with the 10th pick. Olshey said he would take the best available player for the draft, which is exactly what he did, and I’m not mad. Blazers point guard Damian Lillard has endorsed McCollum numerous times, saying he loved the pick Olshey made. McCollum is a very good 3-point shooter, is a prolific scorer, and also has a quick first step off the dribble, giving him the edge over the defender. He has an effective cross-over dribble, and can also be a crafty defender, creeping into the opponents passing lanes for steals. To add to that, he is a good rebounder for his position. He has been knocked for his lack of strength, but that can be developed with weight training over his first season or two. In my eyes, this was a great pick. He fits well with the team, fills a void by being able to control the ball, and has a good chemistry with at least one current Blazer player.

In the the second round, Neil Olshey was outstanding. At the very start, he made a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers, acquiring the 31st pick in the draft for just two future second-round draft pick. Using the pick, he drafted California shooting guard Allen Crabbe. The first thing you should think of when you hear the name “Crabbe” is “elite shooter.” The guy can shoot the lights out from 3-point range. He can  score in transition, has a developed mid-range game, and is a good free-throw shooter. He has been knocked for his ball handling, his lack of strength, and the fact that he is not an explosive leaper. I, like many Blazer fans on Twitter, like the pick, especially because it didn’t cost us that much. He stretches the floor and gives more room for power forward LaMarcus Aldridge to work on the block.

Crabbe was shortly followed by Kansas center Jeff Withey, who Olshey stole with the 39th pick. Yes, I said “stole.” Withey is an excellent interior defender, who averaged 4 blocks per game in college. If that isn’t a good enough reason to draft somebody, I don’t know what is. As most big men need to be, Withey can also rebound well. He can even knock down a face-up jump-shot. His biggest knock is that he is not as strong as he needs to be. He also needs to polish off his offensive skills in the low post. I love this pick, especially because he fills a huge, gaping void the Blazers had: a defensive center.

Portland also held the pick consecutively after Withey: 40. With that, they drafted Arizona power forward Grant Jerrett. I would give a lot of details on Jerrett, but I don’t need to. He will be traded tonight. He will be a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Portland will receive “cash considerations.” I’m not sure how I feel about this trade, but I have faith in Olshey, and I assume that this was a good deal. We’ll wait to see how Jerrett pans out.

Lastly, Portland drafted center Marko Todorovic out of Montenegro. He most recently played for Regal Barcelona, Spain. He is an agile big man who runs the floor well, is a good passer, rebounds well, and is a solid post-up player. He is also considered to have a “high ceiling,” meaning “lots of potential.” He, like other players the Blazers drafted today, lacks strength, especially upper body strength. He is not consistent enough in the 15 to 18 foot range, and also hasn’t played against competition good enough. He will remain in Europe for a few years to develop his game before coming to play as a Blazer.

Today, we got plenty of scorers to add to the bench, which is always welcomed. We also got some defense on the inside. However, I still feel we need a back-up small forward and a back-up power forward. Where do we go for that, I don’t know.

In my opinion, Neil Olshey has proven himself by drafting. Now, it’s time for him to prove that he can go into free agency and come out with a starting-caliber center. I’m not sure if the Blazers would be fine starting Meyers Leonard.

What do you guys think about the new prospects? What do you think should be the Blazers #1 priority this summer? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

~BlazersBySagar

Reports: Aldridge Wants Out?

Aldridge

The time has come. We all knew it would happen someday or another. According to Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald, Aldridge wants to “escape” the Blazers re-building process and play for the Chicago Bulls. In fact, local reporters found out that Aldridge asked for a trade during his exit interview, but was asked by Blazers GM Neil Olshey not to share it to the public.

Now that the information has escaped, we have to move forward. But where? Olshey does not want to trade Aldridge, which makes sense. The Bulls were offering  small forward Luol Deng, but Portland isn’t interested. Olshey wants Bulls power forward Joakim Noah.

Earlier today, rumors surfaced regarding the Blazers and the Los Angeles Clippers. Portland seemed to be targeting Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, who in my eyes, isn’t very appealing. Jordan can play solid defense, can rebound, and can provide the occasional highlight-reel dunk, but is an offensive handicap. Last season, he shot a measly 40% from the free-throw line. During the season, he averaged 8.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game. However, during the playoffs, those numbers took hits. In one six-game playoff series, he averaged 3.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game. Nothing too special, in my opinion.

If Olshey wants to keep Aldridge, he has to make some bold moves, showing Aldridge that he is serious about a playoff push in the very near future. Last season, Olshey signed Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert to a contract, but the Pacers matched it. Last summer, Olshey didn’t have a back-up plan. This summer, he has to make a big move, and if he fails, perform a series of minor transactions to beef up the bench and make the team better.

Where do the Blazers go from here? Aldridge has two more years on his contract, putting Olshey in no rush to make a move.

If I were Olshey and my goal was to keep Aldridge happy (which should be on Olshey’s priority list), I would trade up in this draft. Slide up to maybe the 5th or 6th pick in the draft, making a trade with either the Phoenix Suns or New Orleans Pelicans. Use that new pick to draft Indiana shooting guard Victor Oladipo, who can shoot well and play outstanding defense.

What do you guys think Olshey should do? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

~BlazersBySagar

The Blazers are on the Clock

NBA Draft 13

In previous years, the #10 pick has generally been a solid producer. I 1987, Chicago got Horace Grant, a key part for their first three championships. In 1995, Miami selected Kurt Thomas, who has been a “serviceable journeyman.” In 1998, Boston got Paul Pierce at #10. In 2008, New Jersey nailed Brook Lopez. In 2009, Milwaukee snatched Brandon Jennings. In 2010, Indiana picked Paul George, an up and coming star. However, the jury is still out on the last two #10 picks (2011 – Jimmer Fredette – Sacramento, 2012 – Austin Rivers – New Orleans).

The 2013 NBA Draft is in three days, and the Blazers have the #10 pick. What do they do?

While most sites don’t have the Blazers trading the pick, it is a possibility, that I personally find unlikely. Using the pick would not be using it based on team needs, but on the best available player. Neil Olshey has been adamant about that. That being said, who could realistically be available for Portland at #10? I’m here to take a look at the prospects (note – all the mock drafts and player overviews I used can be found at the bottom of the article).

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Georgia, SG, 6 ft 5 in, 205 lbs) – Caldwell-Pope is an offensive-minded guard who can score in bunches when put in the right system. Many teams believe Portland will pick him to add depth for a playoff push.

Steven Adams (Pittsburgh, C, 7 ft, 255 lbs) – While Adams may not put up numbers many fans want when making mock drafts, he can provide defense and rebounding, both of which Portland is looking for. At the 2013 NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, he shot well and showed some skills that were not displayed while he was playing for Pittsburgh. Some people may say that he resembles Meyers Leonard, which he somewhat does. He still needs to develop his game a bit, but apparently is ready to make an impact in his rookie year.

C.J. McCollum (LeHigh, PG-SG, 6 ft 3 in, 190 lbs) – McCollum can pass, score, and he doesn’t turn the ball over. He’s a potential Damian Lillard 2.0 in my eyes. Having a three guard lineup with Lillard, McCollum, and Matthews can be lethal in terms of offensive fire-power. Add that up with Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge, and whoever Olshey can get at center, and Portland could be back in business. More often then not, McCollum would be used as a sixth man, which is definitely needed, seeing that Meyers Leonard led the bench in scoring last season (5.5 points per game).

Cody Zeller (Indiana, PF-C, 7 ft, 230 lbs) – While he is athletic and can score in a variety of ways on the post, Zeller has been knocked for his seemingly one-dimensional game, notably following Indiana’s NCAA March Madness Tournament exit to Syracuse. He does have an impressive standing vertical height of 35.5 inches, which definitely goes in his favor.

Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse, PG, 6 ft 6 in, 184 lbs) – Carter-Williams can shoot very well, and has added the NBA 3-point range to his offensive arsenal. He is also good in transition on the offensive end. He is also a very good defender, using his speed, quickness, and length to defend the opponent. However, he is knocked for his strength and lack of consistent shooting. One mock draft had him being as good as Penny Hardaway, but as bad as Shaun Livingston.

My sources and consulted mock drafts are down below:

If there are any updates to any of these sources, be sure to check back here. If you need to be notified, like my Facebook page Blazers World or follow me on Twitter @BlazersBySagar.

I personally feel as if taking a guard would be the best idea for Portland. I feel as if the guard could be used as a back-up to Wesley Matthews at shooting guard. As for who we could possible take? Any one of the guards listed above would be great. From what I’ve seen and heard, all three guards are great, and I personally would be happy with any one of them. I don’t want a center just because it would seem like giving up way too early on Meyers Leonard. In fact, Steven Adams has been called Meyers Leonard 2.0. I don’t see the point in drafting nearly the exact same players two years in a row.

That being said, I’ll repeat what I wrote earlier: Olshey plans to draft the best available player. While it’s highly unlikely, all of these players could be gone by #10. Maybe none of them are off the board.

Who do you guys think Portland will take? Who do you WANT Portland to take? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

~BlazersBySagar

Reports: Blazers Targeting Pekovic and Splitter

Tiago Splitter, Nikola Pekovic

The Blazers are rumored to be targeting Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic and Spurs forward Tiago Splitter.

Pekovic, in his second season as a pro (both with Minnesota), played outstanding. While his team didn’t make the playoffs, he recorded 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. In the three meetings against the Blazers last season, he was a killer on the boards, recording an average of 12 rebounds a game.

Splitter, also in his second season as a pro (both with San Antonio), was average to say the least. During the playoffs, he recorded averages of 6.1 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. In his three games against the Blazers last season, he recorded averages of 9 points and 4 rebounds. While he may seem to be producing average stats, he seemed detrimental to the Spurs’ cause against the Miami Heat in the 2013 NBA Finals, constantly committing stupid fouls.

If I as a GM were to pick between these two, Pekovic would be the obvious choice. However, he is a restricted free agent, meaning Minnesota can match any contract he is offered, keeping him for the length of the contract. Executives from Minnesota have been adamant, saying they will match any contract Pekovic is offered. Should they keep their word, it would be a bad idea for Portland to offer a contract. We’ll just have to see if Blazers GM Neil Olshey is willing to take the risk.

Until next time,

~BlazersBySagar

The Influence of Referees

joe crawford

Today, I have a topic that is not specific to the Blazers, or even the NBA, but all sports. While it may seem like a very small thing, it can be very important. As the title indicates, it is referees. Numerous times throughout a sports season, referees can make crucial calls that decide the outcome of the game.

This past season, there were a few games in which the Blazers did not get the call for. The most notable one was against the Los Angeles Lakers on February 22, 2013. Numerous calls against Portland caused the Blazers to lose their lead and fall with a score of 111-107 in LA. While I would love to rant more about this game, I’ll just link a video with this game, as well as a few others, in which the Lakers were bailed out to get to the playoffs:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MhmGyZ7KF0

Not only is the impact of referees important in regular season NBA games, but also in the playoffs, where it NEVER should be. Last night, during Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat, there were multiple officiating problems. While the officiating was atrocious all game, there were two key calls, or lack thereof, the cost San Antonio the game and the chance to clinch the Larry O’Brien trophy.

Late in overtime, the Spurs’ Manu Ginobili was driving down the lane on a fastbreak surrounded by Heat players. He was clearly fouled on the play, probably multiple times. The argument can be made that Ginobili traveled, but in my opinion, the fouls caused him to travel. If I were the ref, I would have called the foul.

On the last play of overtime, the Spurs’ Danny Green leaked to the corner. When he caught the in-bound pass from Tim Duncan, he was instantly “blocked” by Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat. In my opinion, the block looked like a tackle that the refs didn’t call a foul. In this specific scenario in which the Spurs were down by three, Danny Green should have been given free-throws. Because he was shooting from behind the three-point line, he would have been given three free-throws. That would have potentially tied the game to go into a second overtime. The foul was not called and the Heat won to force Game 7 on tomorrow evening. The video recap for last night’s game is below, so that you can get a look at the no-calls and form your own opinion. While the Ginobili situation is not in the video, the end of overtime situation begins at the 5:54 mark of the video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWIUzECU6cU

I personally feel as if the refs should not be able to have such a big impact on a game, especially for one on a stage as big as this. I feel as if all calls within the last three minutes of regulation (of a close game) and overtime should be re-viewed. Refs need to get the right call in big games.

Let me know what you think. Do you think the Danny Green play was a no-call for what should have been a foul? Do you think refs should be able to have big impacts on games? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time,

~BlazersBySagar