Portland Trailblazers

Ross Geiger’s 2010-2011 Rookies That Find Depth Troubles

Bradley's jersey number may represent the number of minutes he'll earn most nights

PG: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics

The undersized combo guard out of Texas may very well be on his way to “Jerryd Bayless-type start” to his career. Much like Bayless, Bradley is not really a point guard, undersized at the off-guard position, and elevates very well on his pull-up jumper. While he became a high value pick at the position the Celtics’ selected him at, he’ll struggle finding time next season. Suffering a summer-long injury won’t help much either. Now Bradley finds himself not only rehabbing, but he’ll have to do so multi-tasking as he’ll also be getting his adjustments to the league. Bradley will have to remain patient next season and will always have to be ready for when his name is called.

Hopefully Babbitt's work on the practice floor can earn him some minutes as rookie

SG: Luke Babbitt, Portland Trailblazers

Rudy Fernandez’s status will play a big part in whether or not Babbitt finds depth trouble this upcoming season. But the addition of Babbitt and his successful summer league makes the decision upon moving Fernandez a little easier for the Blazers front office. On top of using their top draft pick for Babbitt the Trailblazers went out and signed rookie sensation Wesley Matthews to a lengthy 5 year, $34 million dollar deal. The Frenchman Nicholas Batum is also back from injury and of course Brandon Roy occupies most of the shooting guard minutes. Babbitt should find most of his opportunity coming from the shooting guard position but he’ll have to battle for spot minutes with Fernandez, Jerryd Bayless, and fellow first round pick Elliot Williams.

Offseason acquisitions hurt Hayward's chances of finding potential minutes

SF: Lazar Hayward, Minnesota Timberwolves

The offseason moves of the Minnesota Timberwolves really hurt Lazar Hayward’s chances of even having the slightest bit of impact during his rookie year. The Marquette standout who became the school’s first round draft pick since Dwyane Wade will be stuck behind a couple offseason additions. Both Martell Webster and Michael Beasley were added to the Timberwolves roster through trades this summer. Hayward’s only hope is that the Wolves decide upon moving Kevin Love and try their luck with Beasley playing the power forward position, much like Lamar Odom does, in the triangle offense.

If Patterson proves he's as NBA-ready as many believe then kiss this selection goodbye

PF: Patrick Patterson, Houston Rockets

If he’s as NBA-ready as many project then maybe he’ll crack the rotation but it definitely won’t come easy with Yao Ming back into the mix. The Rockets have a variety of different options down low and it’ll be interesting to see who gets appointed the primary backup slots at both the power forward and center position. At the power forward position Patterson will fight to play behind Luis Scola along with young big man Jordan Hill and veteran workhorse Chuck Hayes. Initially Hayes will have the upper hand but it’s only a matter of time before Patterson takes over.

Whiteside will be playing behind players on the Kings roster (pun intended)

C: Hassan Whiteside, Sacramento Kings

Hassan Whiteside arrived on scene a year or two late in Sacramento. The Kings are quickly on the rise in the Pacific Division and will continue to build upon last season’s bright spots. Being so inexperienced and raw, there won’t be much patience for Whiteside’s development in NBA arenas next season. Whiteside has also been referred to as “immature” and if that ends up being the case, I can unfortunately see him having immediate problems in Sacramento. The key question is if Whiteside will be able to handle and have the patience to grow/develop slowly under close supervision. All while not being rewarded with many minutes (if any) next season.

This is Part 6 of Ross Geiger’s 7-part Blog Series covering the NBA’s most prominent young players. Be sure to be on the lookout for the last and final Part 7 that’s coming soon! In the mean time, follow Ross Geiger on Twitter: @RossGeiger.

Ross Geiger’s 2010-2011 A Trade-Away From Being A Good Player Team

Find him consistent minutes & he too will become consistent

PG: Jerryd Bayless, Portland Trail Blazers

If there’s one player in the league that I know best regarding game play and ablities (outside of the Milwaukee Bucks players) it’s Jerryd Bayless. He’s one of the hardest working players in the NBA and staying committed to improving upon his game has been a habit since childhood. Having grown up in Arizona playing against Bayless and seeing his progression into an NBA lottery pick, it’s very hard to watch him getting limited minutes in Portland. Not only has Bayless never really fit into Portland’s plans but with the recent draft selections in Elliot Williams and Armon Johnson, it looks as though there’s no hope in seeing Bayless get significant floor time. A good NBA comparison to Bayless would be Golden State’s Monta Ellis, Bayless is great off the dribble, has tremendous lift of his pull-up, and can get to the basket. Reasons he doesn’t see the floor include not finishing when he gets to the basket, not a true point guard and he’s an undersized combo-guard. Systems that’d Bayless could really be beneficiary in include teams such as the New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors, and Phoenix Suns. Any team that has any interest in going up-tempo should consider trying to deal for Bayless, let him for once show you what he can do. That opportunity in finding consistent minutes night in and night out has never been awarded to him.

Gilbert Arenas + John Wall = Not a Good Fit nor Opportunity for Hinrich

SG: Kirk Hinrich, Washington Wizards

So you may be thinking, didn’t Hinrich just get traded? Well yes, but no. Hinrich once again is in a situation where he’ll be forced to play tandem guard off the bench with John Wall and Gilbert Arenas. While Hinrich has no problems defending most shooting guards in the league, it kills his potential playing a swingman position on the offensive end of the floor. Hinrich must find a situation where he can once again become a starting point guard. A few teams that stand out as good fits for both Hinrich and the team would be the Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, New York Knicks, and if they weren’t so caught up in bad point guard contracts, I’d also include the Toronto Raptors.

Potentially "The Next Rashard Lewis"

SF: Earl Clark, Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns organizations have struggled in the player development department ever since the signing of Mike D’Antoni. When the Suns hired Alvin Gentry to takeover as head coach, player development improved slightly but they still struggle to find their young talent some minutes in the rotation. While I understand with the emergence of Jared Dudley’s play off the bench backing aging veteran Grant Hill made it difficult to find the rookie forward out of Louisville some time, he wasn’t given enough time to even be fully evaluated in NBA game situations. For the sake of the Suns future, I’d encourage them to give a better effort in finding time for Clark as they did with Goran Dragic. Slowly it looks as though the Dragic experiment is about to pay huge dividends as a young guard they can lean on moving forward into the coming years and truthfully Clark, if given the right opportunity, could give them the same type of feeling. Not only is Clark a perfect small forward in the Suns system, but he’s got the perfect size, strength, and abilities to become the next Rashard Lewis. Both Clark and Lewis stand at an even 6-10 with Clark just 5 pound lighter than the proven, veteran sharp shooter. Due to lack of minutes and a small window of opportunity, Clark happened to be of quietest lottery pick rookies last season.

"Play Me or Trade Me"

PF: Brandon Bass, Orlando Magic

One of the more shocking developments of the 2009-2010 NBA regular season was the lack of playing time Brandon Bass received as a first-year member of the Orlando Magic. After signing a 4 year, $18 million dollar contract with Orlando, it was assumed he be a prime time factor off their bench, but Bass never seemed to be even close to part of Stan Van Gundy’s game plans. I can’t help but think of Bass’s few years with Dallas leading up to his signing with the Magic and how big of a role he played in games off the Mavericks bench. I can only scratch my head and wonder why on earth he wasn’t given a chance. Bass’s game is one that team’s interested must proceed with caution due to his playing ability and it looks as though Orlando doesn’t see him being a piece to the puzzle. Despite his considerably large contract for his type of talent, Bass potentially is a diamond-in-the-rough trading piece for other team’s should consider dealing for.

DeAndre Jordan Can Do Move of This

C: DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers

Jordan is the only player that’s included in both Part 1 and Part 2 of my 7-Part Blog Series and that’s something worth noting. Considering the idea of him being traded to another franchise scares me because he has the size and the raw talent to be on the absolute verge of breaking out. Best fits for Jordan must be teams that already have an established big man or superstar type talent that he can compliment nicely. Teams he could become a border-line All-Star with include the San Antonio Spurs, Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Utah Jazz, and probably the scariest destination would be the Oklahoma City Thunder.

This is Part 2 of Ross Geiger’s 7-part Blog Series covering the NBA’s most prominent young players. Be sure to be on the lookout for Part 2 that’s coming soon! In the mean timefollow Ross Geiger on Twitter: @RossGeiger.

5/3/10 NBA Round 2 Game 1 Predictions

Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers -8 ET TNT

Maybe Jamison should go back to the one sleeve approach to warm his jumper up

If the Celtics proved anything in Game 1 it was that this series isn’t going to be a laughing matter. The Cavaliers needed every little bit of the contributions they received surrounding LeBron James in order to earn the home victory. A primary concern for the Cavaliers is that they received quality games from their main guys with the exception of Antawn Jamison who went 2-6 for only 7 points. Outside of that, the Cavaliers played pretty normal if not a bit better than usual.

For the Celtics, they got a nice boost from Rajon Rondo with his 27 points, 6 rebounds, 12 assist performance. While Rondo’s play won’t get much better than that, the Celtics can HOPE for better play from Ray Allen who had 14 points on 6-14 shooting and EXPECT a Game 2 bounce back from team leader Paul Pierce who only had 13 points on a horrendous 5-17 shooting.

Behind Paul Pierce, I’m taking the Celtics to take Game 2 on the road, swinging the series back to Boston in their favor. Nothing like a little more early in-series concerns for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Celtics- 95 Cavaliers- 91

San Antonio Spurs at Phoenix Suns- 10:30 ET TNT

Should I start off by asking Phoenix Suns fans whether or not Jason Richardson can finish breakaway dunks? If I were too, it wouldn’t be completely be irrelevant to the series as Suns fans know. But instead the better question is will Richardson’s strong first round play against the Blazers carry over into Round 2?

George Hill could very well be the difference maker yet again in Round 2

It’s clear the Suns success relies heavily upon Richardson’s play and if he can continue to have the hot hand from outside the Spurs are going to have problem from jump. But it’s a two way street from the guard position, the Spurs will have tough time winning games if they cannot contain Richardson’s hot shooting and the Suns will have a much harder time winning if they can’t slow down George Hill. That’s right I said it, George Hill. He’s the ultimate difference maker in the Spurs advancing over the Mavericks in the first round. The Mavericks couldn’t find a solution to stop him, as Hill went onto average nearly 20 ppg in the last 4 games of the series. The same way the Blazers approached using young guard Jerryd Bayless on Steve Nash is something we should see the Spurs doing with George Hill. With the Suns inside the “Purple Palace” for Game 1, I see the Suns taking Game 1.

Suns- 107 Spurs- 99

4/24/10 NBA Playoff Predictions

Orlando Magic at Charlotte Bobcats- 2 ET

Coach Larry Brown & Raymond Felton will look to try & stop the Magic yet again in Game 3

Both the Milwaukee Bucks and the Charlotte Bobcats are in similar positions heading into their Game 3 matchups on their home floor. For the Bobcats, it looks as though the Magic are too much handle despite being equipped with some height down low to defend against Dwight Howard. At home in Charlotte, Game 3 will be their last and final hope to steal a game in the series. Scan up and down the Bobcats roster and keep in mind personalities of that team and then ask yourself “Down 3-0, will the Bobcats even give their best effort in Game 4?” My answer is no win tonight, directly translating to no win in the series.

Magic- 96 Bobcats- 88

Phoenix Suns at Portland Trailblazers- 4:30 ET

Game 3 quickly turned into the Jason Richardson Show

Game 3 turned out to be an absolute nightmare for the Blazers opening home game in the playoffs. What should’ve been a highly anticipated back and forth game became the Jason Richardson show. Richardson went off for 42 points setting a personal career high while also shattering Phoenix Suns playoff records with made threes in playoffs with 8 3PT made and in attempts with 12 3PT taken. The Blazers coverage on Richardson was absolutely terrible. Very rarely did they ever keep a close eye on J-Rich floating around the perimeter allowing him to hoist up 4 or 5 more attempts than he should have. When a Suns player has the hot hand, the opposing team must make the other Suns counterparts beat you. While that may seem obvious and hold true to any team in the league, I feel it’s especially important against Phoenix. Having just one real post threat leaves 4 guys on the perimeter just salivating, waiting to get their attempt to shoot the basketball. When a guy like Richardson gets it going, force Channing Frye to knock down big shots, who went 1-7 from the field and didn’t connect on ANY of his 6 three point shot attempts. So when the ball is swung, don’t leave Richardson even if that means closing out on Frye with the ball, force him to earn that respect and force him to make a decision.

Does he have a solution for the Suns zone defense?

For the Suns, credit is due on the defensive end of the floor. Coach Alvin Gentry clearly made the right call going into a zone defense as the Blazers offense had no energy and no solution in breaking open their offense. Maybe I’m exaggerating but I’ve never seen the Suns force a team into as many shot clock violations as I did in Game 3. The Blazers were out of sync all game and played right into Suns defensive strategies. The zone kept the Blazers standing around the perimeter, no cutters, no flashers, just a single driver penetrating while the other four Blazers stood around to watch. After Head Coach Nate McMillan reviews the game tape, I see him finding a way to break the zone open. That’ll be the key to Game 4, if the Blazers find a solution to break open the Suns zone defense and if they can limit Richardson & Stoudemire’s point production, I see the Blazers taking Game 4.

Blazers- 101 Suns- 100

Atlanta Hawks at Milwaukee Bucks- 7 ET

Can the Bucks change their luck at home?

“Fear the Deer” has suddenly changed to “Cheer the Deer” back at home in Milwaukee, it clear the Bucks aren’t a feared by the Atlanta Hawks. The Bucks have no athleticism what so ever and don’t even have one player on the team that can catch an alley oop, that’s a huge problem going up against one of the more athletic teams in the league. Obviously Josh Smith being the biggest problem, the Bucks have yet to find an answer for him and I’m not sure there even is one.

Squad 6 will be ready to go tonight! Bring the Noise!

For a Game 3 Bucks home victory, they’ll need to come out and get an early jump on the Hawks at home. If the Bucks can get Squad 6 and the home crowd behind them early, Brandon Jennings and the Bucks should follow. Tonight has officially been declared “A Red Out” for Milwaukee’s first MAJOR nationally televised home game of the entire year (NBATV covered a game), being broadcasted on ESPN. But shouldn’t we have some fun with the name and declare tonight’s game “A Redd Out?”, I don’t know I just think we could add even a little more flavor to Deer country. I see the Bucks winning in the same fashion as the Thunder did at home against the Lakers the other night, hanging around, hanging around and stepping up at just the right time. Bucks win at home in Game 3.

Bucks- 94 Hawks- 90

Los Angeles Lakers at Oklahoma City Thunder- 9:30 ET

Black Mamba vs. Durantula

Winning the franchise’s first playoff game at home in Game 3 the Thunder look to do it again at home in Game 4. Much to Kobe’s surprise (or so he says) Durant locked down Bryant in the closing minutes of Game 3. Do the Thunder have any more surprises left? The answer lies in hands of two the league’s best scorers Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant. Game 4 ultimately comes down to how these two cornerstone pieces of their franchise carry the team on their backs. Tonight’s Lakers-Thunder matchup in Game 4 can be defined by challenges. Of those challenges that wait, I see Kobe completing more of the challenges than Durant even when on the road. To help Kobe complete the mission, I see Lamar Odom stepping up his play after a very disappointing Game 3, only producing 4 points off a Lakers bench that put in just 15 points as a unit. Odom’s the big producer off that bench and with his veteran leadership, I see him making up for that in Game 4.

Lakers- 93 Thunder- 86