NBA draft baby!

June 28, 2007

I’ll have NBA draft coverage of some sort on Dutch Courage – not sure if it’ll be a live draft blog like we used to do on the old site, or followup coverage. It is one of my favorite events, after all.

Early word from Portland has the Blazers taking Greg Oden,and I think it’s the wise move. As good as Kevin Durant is (and he’s phenomenal) you can’t pass up a fantastic defensive center like Oden. I mean, he’s game-changingly good on the defensive end. If he ever learns how to utilize his soft touch on the offensive end, he’ll be one of the top two centers (with Yao Ming) for the next decade. Let’s look at the Blazers with Oden:

Starting Five

Center: Greg Oden

Power Forward: Zach Randolph

Small Forward: Ime Udoka

Shooting Guard: Brandon Roy

Point Guard: Jarrett Jack

Bench

Darius Miles, Joel Prizbilla, LaMarcus Aldridge, Raef LaFrentz, Fred Jones, Martell Webster, Dan Dickau, Travis Outlaw, Sergio Rodriguez

It’s not a bad nucleus, but it does have a few holes. The biggest hole can be addressed by moving Zach Randolph. But let’s say you can get Washington to bite on Zach Randolph (fulfilling Washington’s need for inside scoring) for Antawn Jamison (giving the Blazers cap relief in 2008 and adding some veteran leadership). Then you have a starting five of Oden, Aldridge, Jamison, Roy, and Jack. Much better, right?

However much better the Jamison trade makes the Blazers next year, the real key is the summer of 2008, when Jamison’s contract would come off the Blazer’s books. That summer, heading into what could possibly be the best free agent draft class of all time, the Blazers would be approximately $16 million under the cap (assuming a cap of $58 million), leaving them a max contract they can use to get one of the NBA’s superstars, and probably have a very good chance at winning an NBA title or 3. For example, let’s look at the following possible lineup in 2008-09:

C: Greg Oden

PF: LaMarcus Aldridge

SF: Brandon Roy

SG: Travis Outlaw

PG: Gilbert Arenas

Bench: LaFrentz, Miles, Pryzbilla, Webster, Jack, Rodriguez

That’s not too fuckin’ bad. Plus, over the next two years after that, another max contract equivalent comes off their books as the ridiculous contracts of Raef Lafrentz and Darius Miles expire. Just in time for guys like Joe Johnson to come into free agency.

But it all comes down to moving Zach Randolph. Without Zach Randolph, the Blazers are a better-behaved team with infinitely more cap flexibility. With him, they’re basically maxed out for the foreseeable future. For Greg Oden’s sake, move Zach Randolph.

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