Blazers lose Williams, Pick-up Hickson, Drop Okur

Posted: March 22, 2012 in Blazers, Hoops
Tags: , , ,

On the road to the bottom the Blazers move their L-W record to (2-1), a sign that their post all-star tank job is off to a pretty first week, despite the rocky start of trouncing the best team in the league.  The bad news of the week is that

It’s a little hard to judge Hickson, who looked so solid in his second season (Lebron’s last in CLE), that the Cavs almost managed to flip him into Amare Stoudemire.  How does one go from there to being waived by the lowly Sacramento Kings?  Part of Hickson’s break out 09-10 campaign had to be the Lebron factor, but keep in mind that although his FG% dipped sharply from 55% to 45% in the next season, his PER actually rose from 15.2 to 15.9.  A quick examination of his stats, shows that this had more to do with a nice bump in his rebound rate, from 14.1% of available rebounds to 15.3% of available boards in 10-11.  Some of both of these statistics can be attributed tot he lack of Lebron, as JJ was clearly a bit of what Kenny Smith has dubbed, “a looter in a riot,” often being a primary option on the floor for a really horrible Cavs team.  It’s worth noting that JJ never really had the support of Byron Scott, playing only 28 minutes per game last year, despite the fact that he was one of few “up and coming” talents on a horribly bad Cavs team.

While the move to Sacramento may have seemed like a decent fit when he signed, the Kings go relatively deep with serviceable forwards and centers, with Boogie Cousins, Jason Thompson, Chuck Hayes, Travis Outlaw, and Donte Green all capable of playing either the 4 position, the 5 position, or both.  Their lack of a true point guard, consistent offensive identity, or sound defensive schemes probably all hurt Hickson who averaged an appalling 37% from the floor this season.

If the Blazers are willing to audition JJ for his 3.4 million qualifying offer they could give him all the minutes he can handle at C, since neither Przybilla, nor Kurt Thomas are likely to be able to handle a starting center gig for the rest of the year, let alone going into next season.  There’s no compelling reason for them not to take this risk, and Coach Canales will get to find out why Byron Scott, Paul Westphal, and Keith Smart all seem to find Hickson to be more of a headache on the floor than they could handle.  And when these coaches have dealt with the likes of Boogie Cousins, Tyreke Evans, and Baron Davis.  The biggest issue I see for Hickson, is that he seems to be the type of player who benefits from playing off the ball with strong passers around him.  He does not have a plethora of successful post moves, or a particularly strong mid-range game, and he needs a solid point guard or point forward to get him good looks.  But, if Felton has one strength it’s a pretty effective pick-and-roll game, and this gives him another option, especially when LA is out of the game.

While losing Okur is formality, losing Williams is disheartening.  Elliot, who has shown a great deal of athleticism and promise in his limited Portland career, ends up finishing his second full NBA season with a solid 18.9 PER and 50% FG%, despite playing in only 24 NBA games over two seasons, missing his entire first season and half of his second due to injury.  I think the only question worth asking is who is really responsible for all these missed games over the last several years in the Blazers organization?  Pritchard?  Tom Penn?  Rich Cho?  The Blazers training and medical staff?  Nate McMillan? Paul Allen? the Vulcans?  Rose Garden mop boys? Microsoft? Lex Luthor?

All I can say is get well soon Elliot.  And can I get an 8 man rotation of LaMarcus, Hickson, Batum, Mattews, Flynn, Thabeet, Crawford, Smith?  Helps us most in terms of draft position and asset assessment.  Buyout Fatty McPointguard already.

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