Sunday, December 6, 2009

Time to Revisit Expectations

By now, every single Blazer fan knows about the unfortunate event that took place last night at the Rose Garden. Portland has lost their most promising player, Greg Oden, to a broken patella which will most likely keep him out the entire season. Greg now joins former starting small forward Nicolas Batum on the season ending injury list as it appears Batum's shoulder will indeed take the entire season to heal. Along with being without two starters for the season, the Trail Blazers will have to do without the services of Travis Outlaw until March at the earliest, Jeff Pendergraph for another month or two, and the same time frame for rookie point guard Patty Mills. If all of these injuries were hard enough to stomach, it looks like Rudy's early season back spasms have resurfaced, forcing him to miss last night's game against Houston and will not travel with the team to face the Knicks; there is an outside chance he joins the team mid-week. With only 9 healthy bodies, and no chance to sign a fill-in player due to having 15 players under contract, Portland embarks on a 4 game in 6 night road trip against the likes of New York, Indiana, Cleveland, and Milwaukee.
After we have recouped from being punched in the gut, it is time to re-look at the 2009-2010 NBA season as a whole and revisit expectations. Prior to any of the injury news, I thought we would be LA's toughest competitor in the West, eventually falling to them in 7 games in the Western Conference Finals, now, not so much. Also, every year of increasing the win total since Nate McMillan took over the helm also looks very much out of the picture. Now the question becomes, what defines a successful season after all that we have seen and gone through just 21 games in?
Personally, it is not about wins or losses at this point. There is only so much you can do with only 9-10 healthy bodies on a nightly basis. But there is one thing the team can do. They can play with heart. Lay everything out of the floor and play their guts out, because that's all that's left to do at this point. It becomes about Trail Blazer pride and not shutting it down. Take the Houston Rockets for example. They are without their 2 best players in McGrady and Yao, but are still fighting night in and night out and to the shock of everyone, are a legit playoff contender.
Although I want the team to make a playoff push, I still think, in the grand scheme of the organization, all decisions should be geared toward the 2010-2011 season. Do not jeopardize the future for a few extra wins this year. Realistically, we are not winning the NBA Championship this season, so why not give the keys to the offense to Jerryd Bayless? We really need to see what we have in this kid before its too late. If he shines, then we found ourselves that elusive young, starting point guard who is capable of playing alongside Brandon Roy. If he doesn't look like he is starting material, then at least we know and can make other personnel decisions based on this knowledge.

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