Originally Posted by Scrap Irony
Aldridge is among the best power forwards in the game-- as his 22.73 PER and 11.71 EWA attest. Hibbert's at a 19.35 PER, with the ninth-best EWA for centers in the league. Nicolas Batum has a PER of 17.32 and a EWA of 6.1, both of which rank 8th in the league. That would make the Portland frontcourt starters the cream of the NBA crop, statistically.
Wes Matthews' 2012 PER of 14.12 is below league average, true, and ranks 29th. But his 2011 numbers suggest he can play much, much better. (The addition of Barton and Elliot Williams' excellent PER numbers in limited time should also mitigate possible poor play as well.)
It all hinges on Lillard. If he's a 17/7 guy in 30-35 minutes with good shooting percentages, the Blazers are a top four team in the West. If he struggles to catch up to the speed of the NBA game, they'll struggle as a team. I'm of the opinion, in looking at other top-rated PGs coming out of college over the past decade, he can be at least league average, quite possibly much, much more. (Kyrie Irving was worth 8 wins last season, for example. Stephen Curry was worth about seven three years ago.)
The bench is weak admittedly. But it has some pretty massive upside. Leonard is going to play quite a bit and, with his size and athleticism, should be able to provide better than league average backup minutes. Barton's a wildcard, but, even if he struggles, there are always tons of veterans willing to settle for bench minutes and a couple million dollars. Same thing with Babbit, who, two years ago, was considered among the draft sleepers and is still very, very young.
I'm not saying that team couldn't be good, eventually. But, there is a team to the south of Portland that has a better C than Hibbert (and just as young) better or equal PF to Aldridge, and one of the best SGs in basketball history and couldn't get past the second round, so it is hard to get too excited about that lineup.
Now, Lillard can't possibly be worse than Felton, which is a plus. But, Portland might be the worst run franchise in hoops not located in Charlotte, and that is saying something. They were very shortsighted and petty with both Oden and Roy (I get the feeling Roy retired to get away from Portland), they ran off a successful coach in Nate McMillan, and have filtered through GMs like crazy. So, my confidence in them is very low.
I get the feeling that things wont quite work out, Aldridge will want out, Batum might get a "Blazer like" offer from someone else, and they will be left in a bad spot.
I hate to see them hurting like this. I absolutely loved the Pippen, Rasheed, Arvydas team. It might be my favorite hoops team of all time. How can a team with Rasheed and Arvydas be anything but my favorite.