Monday, December 31, 2007

The Consistent Stat

With growing interest in removing the soul quantifying basketball, the NBA has done some cool stuff like making plus/minus and "efficiency ratings" available. Pretty cool, but if you've ever had to take an intro stats class, you may have wondered why some basic and potentially insightful statistics are left out of boxscores. Among these, standard deviation sticks out as a good candidate to consider. If you need a refresher, this is a commonly used measure of the dispersion of data around the mean of that data. Or even easier, it tells you how much variation there is in the information you are looking at, a measure of consistency.

Seems useful, right? Would you rather have a player who averages 15 ppg that gives you exactly 15 points every night, or a player who averages 15 ppg but could give you anything between 0 and 30? Averages can miss how consistent a player is, and thats where standard deviation can help. It isn't perfect, but no stat really is.

You could run this on any stat, but I chose scoring since it enjoys such a glamorous life. I went through the game logs of Blazer rotation players and computed the standard deviation ("SD") of their scoring. I've also run a couple non-Blazer superstars for fun. I used the free web based software available here.

For interpretation purposes, I also put the ratio of points per game to SD. This was just to help compare players a little better, because ones with higher ppg are much more likely to have a higher SD due to their greater potential for scoring different point totals. For example, a player that scores 25 a night will have higher SD than a player that scores 6, just from working on a scale with more possibilities. The ratio between ppg and SD can be thought of as the variance relative to ppg.

I also included the median ppg of each player, which I also think is helpful. The median is the middle point if you lined up the player's points total from every game from lowest to highest. This makes it less influenced by outlier scores than averages. For example, a median higher than the average could show a player had a couple really low-scoring games.

Sorry for the long walk, who's the most consistent Blazer when it comes to scoring? Who's the least? I've arranged them in order from highest ppg ("Avg") to SD ratio to lowest:

Brandon Roy:
Avg: 19.23
Med: 21.5
SD: 7.08
Avg/SD: 2.72

LaMarcus Aldridge:
Avg: 17.48
Med: 18
SD: 7.23
Avg/SD: 2.42

Travis Outlaw:
Avg: 11.93
Med: 11.00
SD: 6.15
Avg/SD: 1.94

Martell Webster:
Avg: 11.00
Med: 11.00
SD: 6.23
Avg/SD: 1.77

Channing Frye:
Avg: 7.26
Med: 6
SD: 4.16
Avg/SD: 1.75

Jarrett Jack:
Avg: 9.87
Med: 9.00
SD: 5.95
Avg/SD: 1.66

James Jones:
Avg: 9.78
Med: 11
SD: 5.90
Avg/SD: 1.66

Steve Blake:
Avg: 7.47
Med: 6.50
SD: 4.83
Avg/SD: 1.55

Joel Pryzbilla:
Avg: 4.93
Med: 5.00
SD: 3.52
Avg/SD: 1.40

Sergio Rodriguez:
Avg: 2.86
Med: 2
SD: 2.75
Avg/SD: 1.04

To recap, the higher the Avg/SD ratio, the lower the SD relative to points per game. Higher ratios indicate more consistency.

Any surprises? The biggest might be Blake, but remember he's not really asked to do much scoring beyond what the defense gives him. That could mean a bevvy of open 3's or nothing, depending on the strategy the defense adopts, which in turn leads to lots of variance. Another note is that I rounded to two decimal places, and Jack is indeed a smidge ahead of Jones so gets the higher spot despite the equal rounded scores. These numbers include games completed through 12/31.

And here's some other guys, since I guess its sort of possible you aren't all only interested in only the Trailblazers. You can easily do this for whatever players you want on whatever stat is tracked, just fill out the spreadsheet that pops up on the link to the software used above and have at it. Data entry is where amazing happens.

Kobe Bryant:
Avg: 27.13
Med: 28
SD: 7.08
Avg/SD: 3.83

LeBron James:
Avg: 28.81
Med: 28
SD: 8.76
Avg/SD: 3.29

Yao Ming:
Avg: 21.5
Med: 22
SD: 6.63
Avg/SD: 3.24

Dwyane Wade:
Avg: 24.79
Med: 23.50
SD: 9.80
Avg/SD: 2.53

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Blazers vs Philly: Lucky 13

Blazers 97, Philly 72 (boxscore)

Thirteen in a row. As has become common in the most recent wins of the streak, Portland overcame some ugly play before finally clicking in the fourth quarter. The score would seem to indicate a rare blowout win, but the Sixers were actually leading 63-62 after three uggo quarters of "basketball." Outlaw and Roy again got hot in the fourth, which in turn made everything much easier, and Portland poured in 35 points to Philadelphia's paltry 9. Love the wins, but it is somewhat disturbing to see Portland get massively out-hustled for three-quarters before turning it on. We've all been heaping praise on the expansion of the team's confidence, but if this recent trend becomes habit we may be dealing with something related to overconfidence.

But lets ignore that for now and think happy. Look here and see the Blazers tied for first in the division. Actually standings change, so here's a screen grab to immortalize this moment:

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Appreciating Aldridge

Now that Brandon Roy is getting his proper national recognition, it seems like a good time to send some love to the other unbelievable second year player on the Blazers, LaMarcus Aldridge. The most impressive thing is how good this guy is at so many things, and the scary thing is his youth. If his health issues are behind him, it seems he'll at least become a perennial All-Star. He's noted for physical gifts like length and speed, and for a near automated jumper from 15-18 feet. He's an excellent finisher around the rim. His defense is improving, and he certainly has the tools to leap from occasional highlight blocker to consistent shot changer. Another nit-pick is he isn't hugely effective in the low-post with his back to the basket. Of course, he's on year number two in this league and with his attitude and work ethic its hard to argue these weaknesses will be around for long. This highlight reel shows a lot of what I'm referring to if you need a refresher. I recommend keeping the sound down unless you enjoy old-school homophobic DMX lyrics:

But none of these are my favorite Aldridge quality. He is a superb passing big man, and I think this goes a little underappreciated. I'm a little biased, I love good passers. One of my dogmatic beliefs is that this ability is related to a high basketball IQ and unselfishness. This also has me even more excited for Oden. The thought of a high-low offense with those two is absolutely sublime. Aldridge at the top of the key, with his jumper, and Oden to feed down-low. With Oden, I see Aldridge as a four assists a game power forward. It really doesn't seem fair. I beg you to watch this video and see for yourself. I mean seriously, a second year big who can throw a perfect one-handed bounce pass off the dribble?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Portland vs Minnesota: 12 in a row and vanity issues

Portland 109, Minnesota 98 (boxscore)

Twelve in a row.

There's a cliche about how winning ugly is better than losing pretty. In fact, the ability of a team to win games while playing terrible is often cited as undeniable proof of a team's legitimate competence. During the early parts of the streak, Portland was winning pretty. The recent games have been a little ugly, and as expected, we smiled and reaffirmed to each other that this was another sign of our team reaching new heights.

The Blazers adopted both styles tonight, and the outcome was yet another win. After picking up two quick fouls in the first quarter, McMillan sat Roy the rest of the half. In just nine first half minutes, Roy had 7 points, 2 assists, and one steal. Once Roy and his perpetual control of the game was sidelined, things got very ugly in a hurry. I actually fell asleep at some point. Much of the crowd was apparently engaged in a similar activity, as the only real cheering came when 2007 Playmate of the Year and Oregon native Sara Underwood was shown on the jumbotron. Mercifully, with 3 minutes left in the half Rashad McCants attempted to dunk on LaMarcus Aldridge, resulting in an emphatic block and McCants on the floor. The loud thud most have woke the crowd, who subsequently slapped their hands together repeatedly in a clapping motion. Portland then drained three after three and ended up with a halftime lead. McMillan decided to let Roy play in the second half, and cheerable basketball was restored.

It was an odd move for McMillan to bench Roy all half with two fouls. Roy has well known savvy, he can play in foul trouble. There was no blow-out occuring, in fact Portland trailed at times. I like to think that the decision came from Nate recognizing an opportunity to let the team practice operating without their Everything. With opposing defenses focusing more and more on Roy, it seems like a good thing to have figured out. And while they did trail at times, it was never scary. If things got bad enough, I think we would have seen an earlier Roy appearance. Or maybe Nate was punishing Roy for picking up foolish fouls early. Or maybe he truly didn't want to risk Roy picking up an early third foul. Interpretation is fun.

Update: Just caught that in post-game Nate said something about pulling Roy so that the Blazers would definitely have him when they needed him. But my theory is more fun, so I'll go with that.

Now if only the Nuggets would lose a game to someone other than the Blazers, Portland could actually be sitting on the top of the Northwest Division. Oh, and former Blazer pointguard of the future Bassy was in the building. If you are one of the few who is still intrigued by the guy, read what I wrote here and let me know what you think.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

China still loves Houston

I'm over the "fans don't vote for the right people as All-Stars" rant. If the All-Star game is for the fans, its never going to be a meritocracy. I've even let go of the belief that the coaches have some moral obligation to pick those most deserving and thus bring at least some justice to the situation. Of course, if we're submitting to the tyranny of the majority, maybe they should just have the game in China from now on. It's possible.

I was interested to see how China would support Yi in the voting this season. Would we see the same dedication that has made Yao a lock since his rookie season? He came in with a lot less hype than Yao, but the analysts told me Yao's support is mainly due to his nationality. This in mind, there is probably a baseline of fame and ability one has to achieve to earn this home-country love. Sorry, Big Dodger.

Yi was a high draft pick, is starting as a rookie, and has been a meaningful contributor. Yet he comes in at just #5 in the Eastern Conference Forward voting. Note that being a highly drafted Chinese player does not guarantee you a spot. You'd have better luck as a Houston Rocket.

The increasingly China-savvy NBA has been making sure to keep the Rockets on as many Chinese televisions as possible since Yao came along. Not surprisingly, team loyalty has grown. Despite the Rockets sucking, Shane Battier is 7th among Western Conference Forwards, with rookie teammate Luis Scola coming in 8th. Take that, Durant.

Tracy McGrady is second amongst Western Conference guards, trailing only Mamba. This puts him ahead of guys like Steve Nash, AI, Baron Davis, and Tony Parker. Of course Yao deservedly leads all Western Conference centers.

Battier and Scola both have more votes than Yi. Sure, this could be attributed to votes outside of China. As far as market size goes, Houston dwarfs Chinese-hating Milwaukie. But China was supposed to wield an enormous axe in this vote. Either the Yao belief that you get on the team if you come from China with any hype has always been wrong, or has recently changed.

Many Chinese fans, like non-Chinese fans, like the players and teams they see the most of. Perhaps this is reason enough to let them watch the good teams, too. 2008 NBA All-Star Balloting Presented by T-Mobile Second Returns Announced

Travis Outlaw, 6th Man

Around the time the win streak climbed into double digits, Travis Outlaw leapt from one category of my brain to another. I was already appreciating his growth on the court, ecstatic at the sight of this consistent contributor that had replaced the talented enigma we had come to know and love/hate. He is having his best season statistically so far, but his intangibles have been the hardest to believe. He has become a player that can have a bad shooting night, but start hitting down the stretch. I’ve become enamored with those frequent awkward skyscraper jumpers. They seemingly always go in when they have to, much to the befuddlement of the defense. We’ve seen him block shots, now we see him block shots that ensure victory. He gets clutch rebounds. When the other team gets physical (always a go-to strategy against the skinny guy), Outlaw couples an awkward enthusiasm with his awkward game. Somehow this equals beautiful basketball and Blazer victories.

In my raging homerism, I started postulating that maybe these emerging attributes qualify him for the Sixth Man of the Year Award. I welcome that this is against logic. Ginobili is probably considered a mortal lock at this point. Even if he manages to fall off for the rest of the season, players such as Jason Terry, last year’s winner Barbosa, or some other guys I’ve overlooked are of course ahead of Outlaw.

Because this award is given to the best player that does not start. Right?

Something is lacking. Each and every year we sit and listen to guys on TV emphatically debate what “MVP” means, and who deserves the award. Then we talk to our friends about what “MVP” means, and who deserves the award. Then we take our significant other out to eat and tell them what “MVP” means, and who deserves the award. And they don’t care, so you have the conversation with the server. And your server is totally up on it because you always take your significant other “out” to that wings place with a million jumbotron TVs that show sports all day, so all employees there have heard every debate on the topic a thousand times. The sports and TV orgy is really why you keep dragging this person to this place anyways, although you continue to hold strong to the tired “the wings are amazing” line. Admirable.

Anyways, there is always a debate on exactly what it means to be MVP. Common perspectives include “Best player on the best team,” “Single player most critical to team success,” or the old standby “Best player, period.” Despite this gooeyness, nobody complains that the award is given based on a myriad of differing perspectives. The definition of what this award means remains in flux, and keeps debate wide open. Sounds healthy.

Why not take a similar philosophical argument to the SixthMOY? Do we dare look beyond that uninteresting “best guy that doesn’t start” thing? Circling back to Travis Outlaw, I think he could fit the award more than many of the automatic selections. He is a bench player, in letter and spirit. Ginobili and Terry fit the letter, that is they don’t start. Of course, they get starter minutes, starter money, starter fame, and starter respect. Barbosa doesn’t get the money, but gets those other nice startery things to a respectable degree.

If you defined this award as a means to credit the guy that doesn’t get those nice starter things, and helps his team win in the most ways, you’d have a totally different list of top candidates. There’s a lot of reasonable alternative explanations out there, but this post is already too long and I am far too lazy to think of them.

Admittedly, this started as an attempt to justify why a Blazer deserves an award he otherwise has no chance of getting. But the question that comes out of this could be more valuable. Of course, the MVP is the biggest deal as far as regular season awards go. It follows then that it would dominate debates both on TV and at fine wings serving establishments throughout the universe. But this gets old, real old. We have blogs and twenty four hour TV to talk about these things. Lets not be afraid to open it up and talk crazy talk about what the seemingly self-defined Sixth Man of the Year Award really means. And we won’t stop there, just wait until you see guys screaming at each other over the Citizenship Award.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Taurean Green back where he should be

After just four games (and only one DeceptivelyQuick check-in), the Blazers called Taurean Green back to Portland. A defeated and humiliated D-League responded with a fruit basket and genuine "Thank You." From here:

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Portland Trail Blazers recalled guard Taurean Green from the NBA Development League’s Idaho Stampede, it was announced today by Trail Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard.

Green, who was assigned to the Stampede on Dec. 10, averaged 19.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 9.8 assists, 2.0 steals and 37.8 minutes in four games (all starts) with the Trail Blazers’ D-League affiliate.

Prior to joining the Stampede, Green posted averages of 2.3 points, 1.3 assists and 6.0 minutes in four games with the Trail Blazers this season after being selected by Portland with the 52nd overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft.

The 6-0, 177-pounder spent three seasons at the University of Florida, where he guided the Gators to back-to-back NCAA National Championships as the team’s starting point guard.

Hopefully this means they intend to play him. Thanks to anonymous insider Agent Brrrrrrrrrrr! for the tip.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Portland vs Denver: 10

Portland 99, Denver 96 (boxscore)

10th straight win

And the Blazers keep winning. Maybe the most significant thing about the streak is that this team is starting to pull out victories even when they don't play their most beautiful basketball, and tonight things went far from perfectly. Carmelo and AI both had it going (34 points a piece). Denver's defense was keyed in on Roy to the point where it was getting ridiculous. There were extended periods of drought. On nights like tonight, they gut it out with toughness and show a knack for stepping up at the most critical moments. Watching this group become consistently timely is absolutely wonderful.

Roy and Aldridge contributed at a fairly steady pace. Roy had about three defenders on him at all times, so used Denver's enthusiasm against them in going 10-12 from the line. When points seemed to come few and far between, Martell always seemed to hit from outside (19 points, 4-8 from 3) to keep the Nuggets from running away.

Travis Outlaw used the end of this game to display exhibit #21378931296B of his growth this season. With Roy absolutely smothered, he became the go to offensive threat. And yes, he accompanied this with his usual collection of clutch rebounds and blocks, including the potential game-tying three.

By the way, I think its time we start recognizing Travis as a 6th Man of the Year candidate. Not that I think he deserves the award over the likes of Ginobili or Terry at this point, but I think he deserves mentioning. In the spirit of what I think the award represents, that is, the bench player that is of greatest asset to his team, he may be the leading candidate. Guys like Ginobili and Terry are more starters that happen to come off the bench, if that makes sense. They play starter minutes, they get starter fame, starter respect, starter money, Ginobili even plays in All-Star games. Do they fit the letter of 6th man? Definitely. The spirit? Not so sure.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Checking in with Taurean Green

When news broke that Taurean Green was reporting to Boise, Idaho for D-League action, I humbly offered my recommendations for site seeing. The Blazers have a jam at pointguard, so it was either continue to ride the pine or take a trip to Idaho. Green has been impressing the team (and this blog) since summer league, so it was sad to see him go. I won't rant about how much I like his game, mostly because I'm lazy. Just know this: he can play.

Through his first three NBDL games, Green is averaging: 17.7 points, 8.7 assists, and 4.7 rebounds while shooting 42% from the field and 60% from 3. And this is a guy who is often praised for his intangibles.

Another thing, check out his NBDL player profile, then toggle over to his NBA player profile. Apparently playing in the NBA adds an inch and four pounds to a person. They get better shoes, I guess.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Portland vs Toronto: No jinxes here

That was cute when I thought this obscure blog mentioning that the Blazers were the hottest team in the league would jinx the game. By my tally the Blazers TV crew referenced this joyous little distiction about 3,897 times, and I took a break to get some cereal. I would think they have considerably more jinx juice than I. In any event, none of this matters tonight:

Portland 101, Toronto 96 (boxscore)

Nine in a row.

A flu-symptoms fighting Brandon Roy had it going all night, contributing his usual all around excellence to the degree of 25 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists. This city knows how much this guy means to the team, as evident from the "MVP" chants as he was shooting free-throws in the fourth quarter. How long has it been since Portland fans did such a chant? Clyde Drexler?

With the schedule Portland has played, the record they have, and the way Roy has played, he deserves to be an All-Star. It has nearly zero chance of happening this season, but thats fine. We know, and the rest of the league is still learning.

LaMarcus was back after a five game break, and didn't look all that rusty. He didn't have the impact we've grown accustomed to this season, but contributed a quiet 15 and 7.

Much of the game the Raptors had the Blazers infamous zone defense downgraded from The Octopus to The Seamonkey. Only after a fourth quarter surge did Portland finally take the lead. That international collection of shooters Toronto has must have been excited to hear they'd have a zone defense to shoot over and spread out all night. That Calderon, he's a cold man.

The game was made more difficult largely because Portland's usual gangbusting second unit wasn't shooting quite as hot. Toronto has their own nice zone defense, but Portland's two big bench guns-Outlaw and Jones- didn't resemble their offensive selves we've seen during much of the streak. Despite Outlaw's cold night (4-12 from the field), he got some critical buckets in the closing minutes, which speaks volumes to his growth as a player. James stepped up and iced the game from the line. Both played good defense and made big intangible plays throughout the game, especially Outlaw down the stretch.

This is getting scary. What a team.

Hottest team in the League: Your Portland Trailblazers

Moments ago I watched an extra crafty Chauncey Billups ice some freethrows to beat the Celtics in Boston juuuuuust barely (boxscore). Portland has yet to take the floor for their game against the Raptors, but as of this moment they own the longest current winning streak in the NBA.

Am I jinxing things? Yikes. Toronto has a dynamic team, one of the few non-Blazer squads I always make sure to watch. Could they take this joy from us? On the birthday of the great stArvydas Sabonis? Should be fun, enjoy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Boom-Dizzle Christmas

Did you need another reason to love Baron Davis? Me either, but here's one anyways:

I've transcribed my favorite part for the hearing impaired:

...thats what I want on my list. Uh, some Reebok Pumps, old school. I want a bike, too (huge smile)....

And hey look, an excuse to post this!

Blazers vs Hornets: Dear God

Blazers 88, Hornets 76 (boxscore)

Eight in a row.

The Blazers are putting me in a bind, its getting harder and harder to come up with new ways to describe the complete awesomeness of this squad.

Full disclosure: I didn't exactly give the game last night the full attention it deserved. It was the I Love New York II finale, and yeah, I'm a loser that got sucked in. Shout out to Tailor Made for pulling off what should be considered one of the biggest upsets of all time.

All signs point to the Blazers finishing the season 70-12. Enjoy.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

ESPN: We know who Travis Outlaw is!

I just noticed this tonight, apologies if the news has been broken elsewhere. As has been well documented by every Blazers blog, Travis Outlaw's player page on ESPN featured a picture of the slightly older and more mustachioed Bo Outlaw. Well, our Outlaw and the Blazers have been on a tear of late, and Travis is now pictured on his player profile.

As much as I've complained about it, I admit a part of me will miss seeing Bo's beaming smile when I check to see how many minutes per game Travis is logging. Sigh.

Blazers vs Denver: Nick Cannon did this to you!

Blazers 116, Nuggets 105 (boxscore)

The seventh consecutive win was a mature and convincing one. Suddenly Portland is at .500 and continues to perform ahead of schedule. At this rate, the media will have to stop describing how other teams are losing to the Blazers and acknowledge that this team is straight-up beating people (Note: not tonight, ESPN is reporting "Blazers knock off Nuggets despite A.I.'s 38 points").

As has been true during this win streak, the Portland bench was an absolute force spearheaded by Outlaw (17 points, 5 rebs, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 block) and James Jones (14 points, 7 rebs). If you want to see some eye-popping stats, check out James Jones by the way. I'm not sure how he keeps the ball from incinerating when he touches it.

Roy was his usual self. Despite taking a while to find his range (he started 2-10 from the field), Brandon finished his forty minutes of work with 26 points, 11 assists, and 6 rebs. When the Blazers start attracting national attention (I realize it will likely take Oden's return for this to happen), I will be excited for everyone to see how many ways this guy helps his team win. I can't say it enough, a very special player and a joy to watch.

LaMarcus sat out again tonight, but is scheduled to return next game. Starting in his place, Channing Frye took it upon himself to do his best LaMarcus impression by draining jumper after jumper from the perimeter. He had 14 points in the first 10 minutes of this game, and him stepping up helped the Blazers separate early. Frye ended up with 20 points (10-13 from the field) and 9 rebounds. It appears yet another Blazer has rounded into shape. Nate will have some interesting playing time decisions to make.

I can't talk about a Blazer win without praising that zone defense again. It wasn't featured as much tonight (Denver was pretty apt at lobbing oops over the top- Kenyon Martin threw three down on consecutive plays), but it you can tell the team believes in it and enjoys playing it. Mike Rice described it as "The Octopus Zone," which I enjoy and will use in all future references.

Oh, and as for the title of this entry...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Redefining Bassy

Remember these days? About to take over the world, it was only a matter of time:
It was Coney Island, '02, a great year for basketball, but an even better year for Sebastian Telfair. And he wanted in.

Two years later Sebastian Telfair would grace the cover of Sports Illustrated before declaring for the draft straight out of high school. There's not much doubting that hype went too far with Bassy. Now his fourth season in the league, he's already on team number three. His wikipedia entry contains entries under such headings as "2006 handgun incident," "October 2006 robbery incident," and "2007 handgun incident." His career numbers thus far? 7.6 points, 3.4 assists, 39% from the field in 22 minutes per game.

These distinctions tend to stigmatize a person. But exactly why we hold it against an individual when they don't "justify the hype," I will never fully comprehend. Telfair has always been a basketball player. He happened to be a legendary one while at his New York high school, and some observers decided he was going to be a force of nature some day.

They were wrong. And we scorn him for this.

Being a Blazer fan, I still hear the occasional talk about Portland wasting such a high pick on the generously 6' high schooler. I've probably even been an eager participant in some. Truth is, he wasn't even the biggest bust of his draft class. Rafael Araujo at #8 can now be found in a Russian league. Luke Jackson at number 10 has had a turnstile career in and out of the Association. On the all-time busts list, you won't find Telfair near the tippy.

As Bassy is in the last year of his contract, some make allusions that he will be out of the NBA soon. I doubt it. Keeping in mind that he is playing for the worst team in the league, he is pumping out career highs in minutes, field-goal percentage, rebounds, assists, steals, and points. Again, I'm aware there is some horrible-team stat inflation here, but I think his improvement is still significant. Also considering that he is still just twenty-two years old, he will have an NBA home next season.

To reiterate why all is not lost: he is still young and still improving. Force of nature may be out of the question, but solid rotation player is a definite possibility. I hope so, with the amount of turmoil already experienced in his young life it would be something of an inspiration, if we care to notice. His single most important contribution to basketball so far is Through The Fire, and that isn't likely to change. But our attitudes, like his game, can still improve.

Blazers vs. Utah: Six wins in a row

Portland 99, Utah 91

This is getting ridiculous. The youngest team in the league just keeps winning, and oh yeah, leading scorer LaMarcus sat out again. I'm trying to ground my euphoria by remembering how early it is in the season and how young this team really is. That said, they are playing beautfiul basketball. Love that zone, Nate.

Any Blazer fan should be ecstatic over Outlaw, who is averaging 19 points, 6 boards, a steal and a block off the bench during this streak. His confidence and enthusiasm is bursting at the seams, and this consistent production is a thing of beauty.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Finland Can Groove

Is there a blog out there with more Finnish-related basketball oddness? Why would there be? We bother Tim Kisner for insider updates, and get official reports from embedded agent H.T.

Today is a good day, because H.T. has more documentation of the awesomeness that is pro basketball in Finland:

I can't say that the webpage for Finnish Korisliiga team Porvoon Tarmo is
built really well, but I must say that I love the banner. Three players in
the middle of the banner (Ville-Pertti Lind, Chris Hester, Nick DeWitz)
played in Tarmo last season, but the other three guys... well, let's
say that 1970s rocked. Take a look yourself:

And since we only have ten days left before Xmas, here's an early present
for you in form of another Finnish music video. If you don't like heavy
music, just get your earplugs or turn off the speakers; the video itself is


I think I may have finally found the motivation to make a real banner for this site.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Blazers vs Warriors: still hot

Blazers 105 Warriors 95 (boxscore)

Another game against a favored opponent, another victory. Now is a good time to point out that Portland is the second hottest team in the league, only Boston has a longer streak going. DeceptivelyQuick was well in attendance for the latest improbable sans-LaMarcus victory. Because I'm lazy, I'll just throw my thoughts into bullets:

  • No coincidence all this winning has coincided with James Jones finding his groove. He continues to shoot at a ridiculous clip, and that threat has allowed other guys (most notably Brandon Roy) to operate much more effectively. Veteran savvy, deep stroke, better than you think defense, James Jones is absolutely huge for this team. By the way, in an oddly recent pop-culture reference, the Rose Garden people play a sample from rapper Mike Jones "Mr. Jones" whenever James scores. I was pleased indeed.
  • Outlaw continued his amazing play off the bench. I'm not sure I know a single basketball person that approves of all those awkward fadeaway jumpers he takes, but when they fall you just shut-up and cheer. Any team that has a guy scoring 19 a game off the bench (Outlaw has averaged about this over the winning streak) is trouble.
  • I love when Pryzbilla gets his minutes, and he got 30 tonight. In a throw-back to the Damon Stoudamire days, the Blazers actually used him on offense. Joel's no Tim Duncan with the ball, but he has proven many times that he is a capable finisher around the hoop, especially coming off a pick n roll. I hope this will be a continued option, and not something happening only because LaMarcus is out. Love that they play Thriller whenever Joel scores, by the way.
  • Roy. Roy. Roy.
  • I've been as big a Jarrett Jack supporter as there is out there, so when his shortcomings became painfully obvious, well, that sucked for me. I was relieved to see him eventually find a role. That role is not pointguard. For stretches of this game, Jack ran the point. During these stretches, the arena would hold its collective breath and grit its teeth hoping for the best.
  • I've noted the most important void left by Z-Bo's departure. In other chalupa-related news, when the team gets close to 100 the mascot is on the jumbotron starting a chalupa chant (seriously). I can't support this. Not only did it confuse the Japanese people sitting by me, its like talking about a no-hitter while its in progress. Yet another reason Blaze the Trailcat sucks, he/she/it is conducting himself/herself/itself in a manner that is conducive to chalupa-jinxing. We can't have that dammit. Stop this at once.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Baby, I'm Boom-Dizzl-ING

Portland vs. Oakland tonight at the Rose Garden, I, as well as agent Brrrrrrrrrrrr! will be in the building. I have a long history of showering Baron Davis with my man love (you're gross). From the pre-2007 playoffs declaration of "with Baron Davis on your team, you can beat anybody in the playoffs" that landed DeceptivelyQuick on TrueHoop for the first time, to my always effective NBA Live Baron-centric strategy. Surprising then, that this will be the first time my eyes get treated to Dizzle in real life. I'm giddy.

As a Blazer fan, of course, I'm still hoping for a dominant victory. As a basketball fan though, I just want to see Mr. Davis be Mr. Davis. I'm also hoping we taste some Spanish Chocolate tonight, Sergio was just made to showcase his magic against teams like the Warriors.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Blazers vs Utah: Mandatory Recap

Nice stats and some victories will get you Player of the Week. Tonight Roy's 16, 3, and 3 won't register a blip on the national radar, but illustrate exactly why his value far exceeds that of any weekly award. For better or worse these Blazers play like a family, and Roy is the backbone, the provider.

LaMarcus out of with plantar fasciitis, the Utah defense was intent on suffocating Roy all night. Brandon was perfectly content, allowing his teammates to feast on an unusual bounty of wide open jumpers. In 2005, Martell Webster got drafted after a mesmerizing pre-draft workout with the team. The Jazz might as well have been those chairs and cones he took to school on that fateful day as he dropped a career high 25. Travis Outlaw again contributed at a rate that ESPN will soon have to stop calling him "Tracy" in his highlights and take down the infamous picture of Bo that graces his player profile. Thanks to an accompanying flurried perimeter zone defense backed by Pryzbilla at his most gangster, Portland utterly dominated the first 2 and a half quarters of this game. Jazz fans booed their team, and had the salt rubbed in when an overweight second grader in a Brandon Roy jersey would not stop doing the robot all over his courtside seat.

When Utah got energized and mounted the inevitable NBA comeback, Roy shook off the beatings and got the most difficult and critical points of the game. We've seen this so many times before. Last season, before most of us knew LaMarcus could shine like he is doing, before Portland landed the number one pick, Roy sparked hope of a brighter future for this franchise.

Whatever embarassment of riches this team comes to be, Roy will always be at the head. He's the one most likely to end up in bronze outside the arena. The best part of a game like tonight? Knowing that we will be given many more like it.

Box Score

Taurean Green will love Boise

Yep, found via Blazer's Edge, The Columbian reported that Taurean Green is indeed headed to the D-League's Idaho Stampede in Boise. As a Green fan I guess D-League burn is better than nothing at all. He sounds professional about the deal, like a guy who is going to make the most of it. I'd like to help. He's no doubt prepared to handle things on the court, but I would like to offer the following suggestions for really getting the most out of your Boise experience. Most people know very little of the area, thats why they call it the Dark Continent. So why am I qualified? Well, for starters, I was born just 3 and a half hours away from Boise. Plus I went there once. I may be the only person who has been to Idaho that has internet access. Hi-oh!
  • For starters Taurean, you gotta hit up the zoo. Yes, there's far better enclosed animal habitats out there. But do they charge just $5 for all-day access? Welcome to Boise.
  • Go check out Boise State. Look at the football field, its blue! Thats about it for this stop.
  • Go to the mall. People in Boise will try to sell you on outdoorsy things like white-water rafting or rock climbing. Don't do it. Firstly, you could get hurt and jeopordize your career. Secondly, the mall has a JC Penny's and a Sears. What else do you need?
  • Watch the below video and get a feel for the bright lights and bustle. Being prepared should keep the shock to a minimum. They got escalators man. Escalators.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Paul Allen's gonna go broke! Oh wait, nevermind

Forbes (found via Sactown Royalty), released a list of NBA Team Valuations.

A cliche statement the experts keep saying is that "Portland is on the right path," which feels true. We all see the potential, we know we're watching something being built that can be special. It looks like the business side of things will take longer to turnaround. I forget, because most the talent on the team is still on their rookie-contracts, that the Blazers still have the sixth highest payroll in the league. Technically, the most expensive Blazer is currently putting up 6 points a game for the Rockets. The most expensive three are being paid a combined $ 36,503,750 (over 60% of what the Bobcats pay for 16 players), and have contributed 2.8 ppg and 1.3 rpg (Whaddup to all the LaFans out there!).

I know looking at the payroll like this is pretty ridiculous. Sometimes, you gotta take the terrible contract to make the trade work and your future brighter. But still, seeing that the Blazers operate at a $25 million loss (second only to the Knicks) is startling. The double wammy is achieved in that Forbes also ranks the Blazers as the least valuable NBA franchise. That tiny little graph shows that the Blazers haven't actually made money since 1998. Woo!

Then you remember Paul Allen owns your team. You know what? One of Paul Allen's yachts costs 20 milion a year, to maintain. By the way, that photo is said boat, not a cruiseliner. This is how I imagine the conversation went when somebody told Paul Allen the Blazers lost $25 million:

Vulcan: Mr. Allen, you lost $25 million this year on the Blazers.

Paul Allen: Word? Damn. I guess I'll wait til next month to get my submarine painted.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Finnagler concussed, but fine

I was a little freaked out yesterday when our manifest destiny friends at Blazers Edge reported that He, The Finnagler, Petteri Koponen, had suffered a concussion. I was also a little freaked out that Blazers Edge has a source in Finland. The Invisible Finnish Hand: No longer content with only controlling the most obscure of blogs. Ambitious and deadly as ever.

Tim Kisner, an American teammate of Koponen's, has been nice enough to give us some insider insight on the situation:

"He did suffer a concussion. From the sounds of it, kind of like a football player concussion. Remember, Doctors in Europe are much more cautious than ours I have come to find out. He is doing fine now, no problems, so I think he will miss about a week and he missed one game so that will be it. Because he is in the army though, and cannot play, he has to stay in the army full time now until he can play. So not really nice for him. He feels fine they just want him to avoid contact for a few days."

Good to hear he's ok. Interesting that he can get a break from his military service only when he's actually playing in games. Looks like its back to the barracks and ski-warfare until he can resume jump shots.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Tim Kisner in Finland

The basketball career of Tim Kisner is one of those stories that shows just how interesting a path such an occupation can take one on. He was a four year starter at Central Michigan University, where left with his name all over school record books: first player in school history with over 1000 points and 400 assists, third in made three-pointers, fourth in assists and steals, Captain of the squad that won the 2001 MAC Championship. Later in 2001 he was drafted by the NBDL, and a professional journey began. He played in the CBA (alongside the legendary Olden "Golden" Poly-NICE!) before taking his game across the Atlantic to Poland, and then off again to a new country and team you probably know if you read this blog, The Honka Espoo Playboys of Finland.

He's been a teammate of Petteri Koponen for three years, and has watched him mature from a substitute with minimum PT to an NBA first round draft pick. I'm still waiting to hear back on any insights into this scary concussion business, but Tim has been nice enough to fill us in on some perspective for exactly what things are like over there.

Oh, and he has a Scottie Pippen in Finland update too. Apparently its happening. Word is, Tim and Petteri's team will face off against Scottie and the Helsinki team that paid him on January 5th. There's some buzz, but not as much as when Dennis Rodman showed up for that same team a couple years ago, Tim was there, "Two years ago Rodman came and played for the same team against us and it was huge, but Rodman is more famous over here due to his off the court stuff." I vote for Pippen to wear a wedding dress in promotion of the event.

I asked Tim some basic stuff about what Finland is like, culturally and basketball wise:

"Finland is really a small country, Helsinki being the Capital only has basically a million people, so everyone knows everyone. People are very smart here, almost everybody speaks English and Swedish along with their own language. Technology here with Nokia being from Finland is unbelievable, how far they are ahead of us. This time of the year it sucks here, it is dark by 3 in the afternoon and does not get light until about 9 or later. Summer time here is great though because it is light all day.
Basketball is about the 3rd most popular sport here, Hockey is huge. They have one of the best leagues in the world. There are 3 teams in the Helsinki area and they pack out the arenas on game nights. Basketball does not have much of a following because there has not been a whole lot of succes by teams in Finland (national teams) or by players in the NBA. They show one game a week here from the NBA so there is not that great of an influence as other places like China, or spain where games are on all the time."

Oh Finland, to know you is to love you. Expect more updates soon.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Sweet Road Victory!

Outlaw gets the ball off a broken in-bounds play, drives, and kisses a running jumper off the glass at the buzzer.

Portland 106, Memphis 105

Old road record: 0-9. New road record: 1-9. It feels better than it sounds. Get your drink and your two-step!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Aldridge, darling.

Roy, both on merit and because Oden is currently busy with Guitar Hero, has been the face that the media attached to the new look "up-and-coming Blazers." (5-12 makes one put such things in quotes). Now, whether he is simply in a slump or we are just seeing how badly he needs more help on the perimeter to be effective, folks are starting to notice his recent struggles. I grabbed this screen shot off of a few minutes ago:

Its cold out there.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Zach in NY: Like a Glove!

Remember when Zach Randolph became the model for high character on the Knicks? Crazy how things turn out. Remember all those concerns about him actually helping this team win? Oddly, those are gone too. An article on details how Zach is the "right fit" in New York. Interesting. After listing Zach's great stats, this is my favorite nugget:

While the team as a whole could improve on defense, Randolph has given New York a boost in the front court.

When New York made the trade for Zach and ESPN talked to all those happy Knicks fans, I would have put money on them regretting it all by now. I was convinced these poor deprived basketball fans had no idea what they were getting themselves into. As it turns out, fate had much worse things in store for them. With things as bad as they are, a statistic producing machine like Z-Bo is the least of their problems.

His stats are largely shielding him from criticism, something that wore off in Portland.

If the situation improves to the point where such nit-picking can resume, fans in NY will realize that Zach's greatness is limited to the box score. When you don't see that he needs a slow offense and near constant possession of the ball to get those points. When you don't see the lay up line his total lack of defense brings to the other end of the court. There are scenarios where I can see Zach being a huge offensive asset to a winning team. He needs to be surrounded by good defenders, both on the perimeter (because he can't help) and inside (because he needs help). Chicago comes to mind. Lining up next to Eddy Curry, not so much.

So Z-Bo, pray things don't get better. In fact, things getting worse is a reasonable wish. Hope that an intern shows up pregnant claiming that David Lee is the father. Cheer for Isiah to keep his job. Encourage Nate Robinson to stab somebody. As long as you got the double-double on lock, you're gold in NY.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Finnagler aka Petteri Koponen UPDATE

Just when you think Finland has cast you aside forever, they come back all smiles like an absentee father. And as much as I was hurting from them leaving, I can't help but let them back into the DeceptivelyQuick family. Especially when its H.T., our Invisible Finnish Hand embedded informant, long feared to be lost forever.

H.T. brings not only news of being alive, but some Petteri Koponen updates as well. I've been curious how Koponen's military service would effect his play, to which H.T. brings some insights (bolded stats are my doing):

Koponen began his military service just two days after the 2007/2008 campaign tipped off. Koponen started the season slowly, battling against fatigue and struggling with turnovers while going through intensive army recruit training. In November, Koponen has performed stronger than everbefore, averaging 19,7 points, 4,2 assists, 4,0 rebounds and 2,3 steals agame while shooting .549 at 2pt, .464 at 3pt and .818 from the charitystripe. He still averages three turnoves a game, but his assist-to-turnover ratio is still among the best in the league. Blazers fans might be pleased to hear that Koponen has improved quite a lot in the defensive end. Maybe that is the reason he went to the Finnish defence forces? Anyway, Koponen's possibilities to crack Trailblazers' rotation in 2008/2009 are looking good at the moment.

Apparently the Blazers have sent their own eyes to see how The Finnagler is doing, and he is doing quite well. H.T. is on it:

Portland Trailblazers' representative Steve Gordon arrived to Finland just a couple of days ago to witness how Blazer point guard prospect Petteri Koponen is progressing. Koponen didn't disappoint, playing full 40 minutes in a 76-60 victory over Joensuun Kataja. Even though Honka Playboys is struggling with injuries (three of their starters and their sixth man are out for more than a month), Koponen managed to general Honka to victory with 27 points (2p 4-6 3p 4-9 Ft 7-7), six rebounds, seven assists and four steals while allowing Kataja's point guard Louis Hinnant only 14 points.Gordon will stay in Finland for a few days and will probably suffer through a salmon overdose.

Excellent news indeed (except for the certain impending salmon overdose of Steve Gordon). To top it all off, H.T. also included another amazing Finnish music video, which is as good a way as any to end this post.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Blazer Player Breakdown: Brandon Roy

Back with another player breakdown (Aldridge, Webster, and Green have been presented here), fresh from the DeceptivelyQuick Research Department. There was all sorts of science behind this, beakers, tubes and chalkboards with lots of odd looking math on them. All in an effort to better understand our Portland Trailblazers. Today we have Brandon Roy:

Like Wade, Roy transcends his commendable box score quantified value. They both are providers and facilitators for their teams, fillers of the traditional Daddy role. Both remind us of this most in the fourth quarter of a close game. What Wade has on Roy, and most everyone else, is a sort of athleticism not often achievable by humans. This isn't a knock on Roy, who is definitely athletic even by NBA standards. But while Wade will usually explode around and over all in his path, Roy has to take a more strategic approach. Both are effective. Perhaps because of this need, Roy has developed into a deep threat. As of this posting Roy is shooting .486 from 3. In NBA rank, this sandwiches him between specialists Kapono (.487) and Stojakovic (.472).

Saturday, November 24, 2007

El Finnagler

As you no doubt have heard, DeceptivelyQuick was rocked recently when the Invisible Finnish Hand released us from its icy grasp. This was encapsulated by the secret organization removing all Finnagler-related references from Petteri Koponen's wikipedia. Our embedded informant, the mysterious "H.T.," has long since broken off all contact, and we fear the worst.

A minor victory then, that "The Finnagler" still appears in all its glory on Koponen's Spanish language wikipedia. The Invisible Finnish Hand knows two-hundred ways to kill a man, but it does not know Spanish. A small but significant weakness indeed. If any more dead humpbacked perch show up on my doorstep, I'm booking a flight to Mexico.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Losing Finland

The Holidays are about family, and recently a cousin of DeceptivelyQuick has been coming around less and less. That empty place at the table is difficult to ignore, and we're getting the feeling Finland's "maybe I'll be able to make it" was just a polite "no."

For much of the existence of this blog, Finland has been there. There were days when our kindly maildeliver-er Mr. Lumpkin would complain because hauling all the fanmail from Finland was hurting his back, plus it was "really cold" and often "smelled of fish." Mr. Lumpkin has been happier lately, as our Finnish support has dropped to an all-time low.

But why? Some believe our newly elected mascot Spencer the SweetPotato has failed to connect with the crucial young male Finnish demographic. It only loudens the criticism that we should have gone with our first choice, Finnish rap superstar Stig Dogg. Although we can't disclose the specifics of financial matters, Stig wanted more humpbacked perch than we can provide at this point. Spencer works only for the opportunity to spread the faith of how delicious and healthy sweet potato's really are.

As if this weren't enough, as we watched the Petteri Koponen's DeceptivelyQuick approved nickname "The Finnagler" gain traction, it has apparently vanished from his wikipedia and thus, from the lexicon of relevance.
The Invisible Finnish Hand can be cold indeed.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Oden is TOO strong, no really

ESPN hit us with an Oden update, the Blazers are a little nervous because he's gained 30 pounds...of muscle. They swear this is a bad thing:

"We don't want him to get bigger. That's going to come,'' Portland coach Nate McMillan said on Friday night. "It's very easy for him to put a lot of weight on having a year off. We've really got to be careful about the weight training with him.''

That about seals it. You can't approach Greg Oden as if he's a human being. He is an extraterrestrial, possibly from the same planet as Shaq. This adds something to the suggested Optimus Prime nickname.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

How bad off are the Knicks?

We've heard about the poor condition of the Knicks organization framed in what seems like thousands of perspectives. Here's an ex-Blazer related one from J.A. Adande's column at ESPN today. J.A. runs through the most recent Marbury act, and, after noting Marbury explaining that he was tired after his poor return performance, turns to Zach:

"If anyone had a legitimate excuse to be tired it was Zach Randolph, who had missed the previous two games to be with his family in Indiana after his grandmother passed away on Friday. Randolph scored 16 points on 5-for-18 shooting from the field and pulled down 19 rebounds.

'I wanted to help the guys out, any possible way I can,' Randolph said. 'I know that's what my grandma wanted me to do, is play.'

Those are the stories we love in sport, guys making commitments to their teammates in the most trying of circumstances. It's too bad it had to be overshadowed by the Marbury circus."

Another potential "you know the Knicks are a mess when...." anecdote to add to the heap: Z-Bo is becoming their character guy.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Blazer Player Breakdown: Aldridge, Webster, Green

There's a cool movement in basketball to come up with increasingly better statistics that more accurately capture the contributions of an individual player. This Hollingerization has its staunch critics and its horny groupies, but I think the vast majority of us think its all sorta neat-o.

You may be wondering, how can I help? After all, you're just an obscure reader of an obscure blog. Well, I have that answer for you. I've devised a complex system (I will not bewilder you with the complex details and jargon of it all here) to accurately break a player down into his most basic and crucial components. Support my quantitative breakdowns and, dare I say, go out there and be somebody. You can apply this to your own team, boss, spouse, dog, whatever. I'm not opposed to a healthy debate, so long as it ends in your humiliating defeat and me being carried off on the shoulders of awesome people.

To get the ball "bouncing" (cause its basketball ha!), I humbly present analyses of three current Blazers. The goal is to get the whole team completed, although this is science and you can't rush science. Don't even try.

First up, we have LaMarcus Aldridge:

That length, blossoming defensive prowess, and soft-high release have reminded more than a few of us of Sheed. Of course, LaMarcus doesn't freak out as much at officials or teammates. He also does this thing where he likes working hard to improve his game (Whaaaaat?). And he doesn't become a malcontent when an offense wants him to carry a heavy load.

Next up, we have Mr. Martell Webster:

Yeah, I said it. Oh, and I know that H2O played in Detroit that season. However, I couldn't find a picture of him in a Pistons jersey shooting a basketball. I know, you probably didn't even notice that I had digitally altered the Knicks jersey into a Detroit one, or that I incorporated subtle clues to make you think he was shooting that ball from somewhere in Detroit, maybe even 8-Mile.
Anyways, don't sleep on Martell. He has the shooting touch and athleticism of a young Allan Houston. I was tempted to also subtract "knowing he's as good as Allan Houston" from the equation, but Martell has been full of confidence so far this season. With LaMarcus growing into an All-Star and Oden on the way, Martell is going to be killing teams with his shooting for many years.

Our next and final breakdown today, rookie pointguard Taurean Green:

A few nights ago I was reading something about Taurean Green, when Dia walked by and demanded to know why I was looking at pictures of D.L. Hughley. I explained that the picture in question was in fact Blazer's rookie Taruean Green, that he won back-to-back championships in college (I even did the gator chomp a few times for emphasis), that he was passed over in the draft despite his proven skills and toughness just because he's a little small.

Blank stare.

Well, he does have the same hair as D.L., and he does joke around a lot. Except reportedly, his jokes go over at a more successful rate than D.L.'s have lately. He also has the public support of Nate, who has yet to issue similar positive statements about food or water. All he really needs is more playing time, and with inconsistent backcourt play so far you have to believe thats on the horizon. A tough and defensive undersized pointguard with a shooting touch, I see evidence of a young Blaylock. A Blaylock with jokes.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Blazer fan to public: Kevin Duckworth saved my life

Just push play

You may have already seen this, but my Dad just sent it to me and I was blown away. In the epic, our brave balladeer details an incredible night in which he and Jason were sitting courtside at the coliseum. What happened next would change Dan Reed's life forever. After being done decked and disconnect by a ball flying into the stands, Dan was flung into a Blazer fantasy that was clearly the result of very severe post-concussion syndrome, and brought back to reality only after a subsequent fantasy Kevin Duckworth pass gone awry.

After learning of his brave tale, I had the urge to track down this virtuoso known-mysteriously-only as "Dan Reed."His band has a wikipedia and a myspace, but the man himself remains shrouded in mystery. You know artists. On the upside, he has a new album coming out in 2008, which I am hoping contains the long awaited "Bust a Bucket Remix." Assuming our paths do cross someday, I have the following questions prepared. If you know him, pass these along. They will be in my wallet everyday until this happens.

"What exactly does 'bust a bucket' mean, and when did you know it had entered the elite lexicon of phrases to have swept the nation UNIVERSE?"

"Are you suffering any long-term health effects from when the ball done decked and disconnect you?"

"Were you given any compensation from the Blazers for the trauma you endured that night at the coliseum?"

"Clyde Drexler is noticeably absent from your Blazer Rhymes. Was this attributable to his distaste for the hip hop lifestyle and your alleged objectification of the Blazer Dancers and 80's/early 90's awesomeness?"

Monday, November 5, 2007

How to fix 0-3

Mike Barrett and Casey Holdhal both posted discussions on the Blazers 0-3 start. My take is similar to theirs, the Blazers just lost to three better teams. Still, that zero on the left can make for uneasiness. They should look into fixing that.

The most obvious and glaring Blazer weakness has been at pointguard, where we have yet to see a solid night from anyone. So what to do? Nates apparently going to start Blake and bring Jack off the bench. The non-PG related idea is starting Channing Frye instead of Pryzbilla. I would guess this one could be to prevent the lay-up fest that seems to occur when Aldridge and Pryzbilla are out of the game at the same time. But the Blake start, while not surprising, doesn't seem as easy to justify.

Play-by-Play Mike said Jack told Nate he doesn't mind coming off the bench, which gives us the option of cheering his selflessness and dedication to the team's success or suggesting he lacks the competitive edge needed to be the player we need. Take your pick.

I'm not convinced juggling a group of pointguards that individually have yet to produce consistently is the answer. Perhaps its all Nate can do at the moment. Or maybe its a chance to get noted "Nate Guy" Steve Blake into a larger role.

Jack's confidence has been known to bruise. He even has that worried look in his NBA Profile photo. This seems like an event that could do some damage. What if instead of benching the guy, Nate rallied around his third year pointguard? Let him know that he's a Nate Guy too, and that theres no sense in losing faith after a few bad games?

Don't get me wrong, Jack's play hasn't been up to standards in the very young season. But again, has Steve Blake been good enough to justify this? Can we expect a changed starting lineup with every three game losing streak? It all seems like a little much. This team is still a project, and more patience at this juncture would have a hard time hurting.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Mike Barrett: Referee conspiracy whistle blower

I am a supporter of the Blazers All-Mike TV broadcasting team. They're funny, and they do a pretty good job of describing the action.

That said, as I'm sitting here watching the Blazers get blown out by the Hornets in the second game of the season, Mike Barrett's repeated "Refs hate the Blazers" act is already old. Seriously, I'm not sure I can handle another season of this. Its beginning to overshadow the many things the guy does right.

That said, here's some quick notes on the game:

  • Chris Paul had 19 points and 6 assists in less than 26 minutes. He's a great, but Jack and Blake's inability to even stay in the frame with him had me thinking of Taurean Green all night. For the record, "Nate-guy" Green has played less than three minutes this season.
  • This was the first time LaMarcus saw an NBA team that had a focus on stopping him in the game plan. He struggled and looked frustrated much of the night. After blowing over and around Duncan and the Spurs in the first game, facing Tyson Chandler may have been a little shocking.

TV can be awesome sometimes

I was flipping through the channels not expecting much, and then I see Darryl Dawkins shooting freethrows. Huh? There's Bill Walton. The Blazers vs. Sixers, 1977 Finals! The one and only Portland Championship, and the game is being shown in all its glory. Now I'm trying to figure out which game of the series I'm watching, so I log on to Comcast Sportsnet Northwest for more info. All I notice is that whoever made the site apparently thinks Sergio Rodriguez is Sergio Garcia. I included a photo of the two below to help them out:

I added arrows to emphasize differences. Mostly, Garcia wears a sweater vest and uses a club while Rodriguez wears a jersey and uses a ball. Garcia also has an unusual mustache, but I thought it'd be rude to point that out. He's a man with feelings, you know?

So anyways, the channel looks pretty cool. I'd love to say more, but Billy Ray Bates just checked in.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Thanks for a good month

Happy Halloween. Tonight its being reaffirmed to me just how many kids live in my apartment complex. The candy is running low and truthfully, I was sort of banking on having tons left over for my personal use. That's why I've entrenched. I'm here in the dark, chomping away and constructing a fort of candy wrappers. Boo!

This was the most successful month in DeceptivelyQuick's brief history, how exactly you define success for an obscure blog I'm not totally sure, but I feel good. Increased traffic seems to motivate ideas into fruition, so thanks for reading. Hopefully the upward trend will continue, and we'll all get money and chicks, man. Yeah.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Quick Thoughts, Blazers Debut

Fourth Quarter/Overall: Portland 97 - San Antonio 106 (box score)
  • People who just look at the box score will think Webster had a huge game tonight, which is sort of true. What actually happened is even better, Martell just looked comfortable and confident all night, not forcing anything. Most of his shots were good ones in the flow of the offense. Great for the Blazers that he's at a place mentally to take advantage.
  • We didn't see much of this Pryzbilla last season. He was doing what he does best, bothering tons of shots down the stretch and gobbling up boards. Welcome back Joel, how we've missed you.
  • Luckily for Roy, he won't have to see Bruce Lee Bowen every night. Again, credit Roy for playing through a rough night. He doesn't stop doing all the things that make him a very good player, even on a night like this he's still often in the mix helping out in some way.
  • "Nate-guy" Taurean Green saw zero minutes tonight. "Out of rotation" guy Sergio saw 5:39.
  • Outlaw looked great early, but disappeared. Still encouraging, but these disappearances are what have limited Outlaw in the past. When he's on and attacking though, it was hard to even see that Matt Bonner was in his general area.
  • Blazers come decently close to the comeback. They don't know any better than to keep trying, which is something to love. I predict an ESPN recap will soon employ the adjective "plucky" to describe them.

Third Quarter: Portland 77 - San Antonio 81
  • Roy, hounded by Bowen, continues to struggle with his shot. But we get to see what separates him from a lot of other young players. Roy is not forcing anything, and continues to do little things right and facilitate for his teammates.
  • Mt. Pryzbilla erupted. He's back to his old rebounding and shot blocking self. He's even sinking freethrows. This is a great sign.
  • Webster continues to look comfortable and confident.
  • LaMarcus, LaMarcus, LaMarcus. I'm telling you. LaMarcus.

Second Quarter: Portland 49 - San Antonio 59
  • Bowen is winning the matchup with Roy in a landslide. Neither one of them are having much of an impact on offense, of course Bowen doesn't need to.
  • Get used to this, LaMarcus Aldridge: Consistent Offensive Threat.
  • We have yet to see Ime Udoka.
  • Jack isn't having a very good night, but when he's in the game its hard not to notice that the offense works better. By "works better," I mean the ball ends up with LaMarcus more often.

First Quarter: Portland 26 - San Antonio 29
  • Blazers look fine on offense, but are shooting mostly jumpers. Then again, they're playing the Spurs. Everyone shoots jumpers against the Spurs.
  • The Blazers most talented and inconsistent members: Webster, Outlaw, and Sergio, did a lot of good things. Particularly Outlaw, who Matt Bonner is allegedly guarding. We all know these three can be tantalizing, but consistency is the issue. We'll see how it goes.
  • The interior Blazers D really softens up when Pryzbilla and Aldridge are out. This might be expected, but the difference is pretty startling. Will the Blazers be able to fill this need? Or will one of the two always have to be in the game?

Opening Night

I'm sitting here waiting for the Blazers debut versus the Spurs to begin. Good to see the TNT studio team, I've missed them. I'm glad the Oden arrival pushed the Blazers into some national coverage, even as Oden going down has the networks bracing for lower ratings. I'm happy because the attention means more people will realize how special Brandon Roy and LaMarcus are. This team had a lot going for it before Oden came into the picture, even if it all is tied to some oft-injured young stars finding ways to stay healthy.

Last season we started to realize we have players that can conceivably make something special happen. This season is the first dedicated to that something. Here we go.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Scoop Jackson vs. Blogs, its still on

Just read Scoops Page 2, here's the highlight:

"And the sport the blogs and bloggers hate the most: basketball. The league they will give the least benefit of the doubt to: the NBA. This year the NBA can give bloggers no more reasons to hate than they already have. The power of the blog can kill the league."

Hearing that the NBA is barely clinging to existence is nothing new, but I was shocked at the accuracy of the statement. See, just a few weeks ago at the Blogger meeting there was a powerpoint slide outlining the master plan to take down the NBA. Some how, Scoop must have gotten a peek. Maybe he was there, his article is on the internet, and that could have gotten him passed security. He could be like Blade, half-real life big time sportswriter, half-blogger. And with a foot in each world, Scoop may be the world's only chance for survival.

I actually like a lot of Scoop's work and feel bad that the all-powerful evil-bloggers have not been more kind to the man. Despite the humiliation of being criticized on sportswriter forums read by tens of people, Scoop reached out. Of course, he got burned there too, and I'm not sure he has realized it. No matter. Bless you Scoop, fight the good fight. Somebody's got to.

Catching Up With Joel Freeland

Many of us first heard the name Joel Freeland when Portland drafted the then nineteen year-old with the #30 pick in the 2006 draft. He was one of those surprises you hear shooting up draft projections after impressing teams on the pre-draft workout circuit. More surprisingly, for all this raw talent that had teams drooling, Joel had started working on his game just three years prior to hearing his name called. He was 6'10 and athletic, but hadn't played much at a high level. His wiry frame also didn't seem like something you could see having much fun close to the hoop during an NBA game. The Blazers decided to let him mature in Europe, and Joel signed a contract with Gran Canaria of Spain's ACB League. There, it was believed he would get an opportunity to gain experience competing at a high level while polishing his skills and getting his body ready to compete in the NBA.

The problem was, Gran Canaria rarely played the man they already knew would be leaving them for the NBA, and showed little interest in helping with his development. Rather than dwell on this frustrating situation Joel went to work on his skills the best he could. And he lifted. And lifted. When 2007's summer-league rolled around it was time for Joel to rejoin the Blazers. That wiry young draft pick was nowhere to be seen, in his place was 250 lbs of grown man that definitely looked the part of an NBA player.

Joel saw sporadic time in Vegas, but certainly did enough to leave an impression. His two-handed throwdown off a lob in traffic and his blocking of a Leon Powe dunk come to mind. He proved to the coaching staff that he can play, and is now in a position requiring him to work as hard as ever on improving while patiently waiting for his opportunity. I emailed Joel a few questions and he was kind enough to reply, his words are in grey:

1) How much contact do you have with the Blazers right now? Do you communicate much this time of year or are you mostly left to do your own thing?

I don’t have much contact with the Blazers during the season, which is no problem as I understand they have a lot on their plate during the season. But as I travel to mainland Spain I occasionally meet up the European scout so that’s kinda cool!

2) Have you heard much from the team on an ideal timeframe for you to come over? If you came over now, how much do you think you could contribute to the team?

I haven’t spoken to the team about this, but to be honest I’m not in any rush, it will happen when it happens and I've just got to make sure that I’m fully prepared for the responsibility that it involves, and also make sure that I am ready to compete, so all I’m focused on now is playing, working hard and getting better.

3) It seems like both you and the Blazers organization are frustrated at the limited minutes Gran Canaria has offered. What is your approach to still improving your game in such a situation?

I am frustrated as any basketball player would be but I feel as long as I stay confident and work everyday, whether it be during practice or by myself, I will benefit greatly from it.My opportunity to play will eventually come and I have to be prepared to show everybody that I am physically and mentally ready to compete at this level.

4) You've talked about the level to which you've added muscle to your frame, and a desire to gain more. After summer league, do you feel like your body is now where you'd like it to be?

With the extra weight that I have put on over the past year I feel great. I feel a lot stronger and a lot more stable in the low post, and I don’t feel like I've lost any quickness either, which is great. I’m at around 250lbs at the moment and I feel I could go up to like 255-260lbs and that would be perfect.

5) Anything else?

Thanks a lot for the questions and trying to stay in touch its greatly appreciated. I would just like to say thanks to the fans as well for their unbelievable support and I hope to see you all soon!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A void to fill

I had a great time taking in the game last night. The new team, the new scoreboard. The dramatic comeback, the Robert Swift. But when the Blazers hit the highly anticipated Chalupa mark late in the fourth quarter, my usual exuberance was tempered by a sudden sense of lacking. Something wasn't right. My eyes flashed up to the billion dollar HD scoreboard, and I realized what was missing.

I avidly supported the trade Zach movement last season. There was a lot to gain by moving him, but I didn't fully understand everything we would be losing. See, when the Blazers used to hit the Chalupa mark, a picture of Randolph would flash on the jumbotron. He'd be wearing a sombrero and a poncho, with a facial expression and body posture suggesting he just did a magic trick and yelled "TA-DAAA!" It was almost as delicious as the free baja Chalupa I would be enjoying on the ride home. Now I feel more like I would when I got home, after eating the Chalupa.

As of right now, the Blazers have yet to announce a replacement. Will there even be one? Or will this position go the way of the Blazermaniac ? My humble nomination:

Blazers vs Sonics and first impressions

Great game last night at the Rose Garden (box score). The crowd was bigger than I thought for a preseason game not including Durant or Oden. Just sparse enough for an obscure blogger to stealthily move from a seat requiring an oxygen tank to a place where, as DeceptivelyQuick Operative Brrrrrrrr! pointed out, one could see Steve Blake's 5 o'clock shadow. If you want a play by play, Casey Holhal at Oregon Live blogged the whole game. The Blazers made a dramatic comeback thanks to Delonte West's inability to guard Brandon Roy. Its preaseason, so I'm trying not to get too carried away, but here were some impressions I walked away with:

  • Robert Swift is garbage. The Sonics see something in him, I'm not sure anyone else does. During a summer league game in July I saw him on the sidelines and wrote that you can only pull off a bright red pony tail in the NBA if you're as good as Bill Walton. Its not looking good.
  • LaMarcus and Roy are still very, very good. Martell looked comfortable and starterish out there, but we've seen this before. Can't wait to see how he does this year.
  • Remember when nobody would shut up about how awesome the new scoreboard is? Kind of annoying, right? I mean, its just a scoreboard. Wrong. It really is that amazing. I took the following grainy video as proof:


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The case of the missing overweight middle-aged caucasian men

A couple weeks ago, I excitedly posted an email I had received about an event aimed at recruiting some "Blazermaniacs." Season tickets were in it for the winners ("winners"?), so the incentive was there. Even better, the email claimed they would put videos of the top contestants online for fans to vote on. In fact, the online voting was set to run through 10/22. I was ready. It seems sad (because it is) but I was pumped for this contest. I was going to carefully sift through these shameless people and officially endorse a candidate. It was going to be a DeceptivelyQuick media blitz.

For weeks I've been scouring the site and checking my junk e-mail folder. Nothing. I even scanned that IAMATRAILBLAZERSFAN.COM thing. Nothing. Did nobody show up? Did only a few enter and win by default? The silence, as they say, was deafening.

I may be the lone voice on this issue. But a fan's willingness to bring shame to their children and themselves by acting ridiculous at a sporting event is key to the whole experience of going to the game. One of my favorite experiences ever was at a Blazer's game last season when an impromptu breakdance battle between two fans broke out on the jumbotron. We need this contest to work, for the betterment of us all.

Please people, do not let this die.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

R-O-Y, like the award, get it?!?!?

During all of last season I supported the whole name thing. Brandon Roy, Rookie Of the Year. A fun little coincidence. In fact, I'm still kicking myself over not buying this shirt:

By the way, its funny that someone felt compelled to stick the word "MY" in before "ROOKIE OF THE YEAR," as if they weren't quite ready to believe the rest of the league would feel the same way. It reminds me of reading a Blazers team magazine in grade school with Clifford Robinson and Rod Strickland on the cover and the headline something along the lines of "You're All-Stars in Our Book!" We're used to notoriety, we're used to infamy. We are still getting used to relevance. But I digress...

I guess if its your job to write headlines and come up with cute gimmicks, its hard to let something like Roy/ROY go. I can see how these sorts of conveniences make your job a little easier. But Roy is no longer a rookie, so I was sort of hoping we could let go of this one now. Then I woke up this morning and read this headline summing up his preseason debut:

"Roy doesn't play like ROY"

Ugh. This will not go away. There's only one solution for Mr. Roy to escape this, he has to change his name. Its not even that hard. I put a few ideas in the list below. It might even be helpful for him to cycle through whenever he reaches a milestone, or combine them all into a single name that includes every honor possible (might as well throw the Pulitzer and Nobel Prizes in there too, right? Believe in your dreams):

Brandon All-Star
Brandon First Team All-NBA
Brandon McChampion
Best Player Ever Al-Blazers Dynasty Cornerstone Shabazz

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hannah Montana and the Blazers go together like, wait, huh?

The wonderful Blazer spamming robot sent out an interesting opportunity today:

"Special Auction for Hannah Montana and Trail Blazers Suite Package

Your chance to bid on the SOLD OUT Hanna Montana concert!

Fourteen-year-old singer, songwriter and actress Miley Cyrus of the hit Emmy-nominated Disney Channel series 'Hannah Montana,' will perform her North American 'Best of Both Worlds' concert tour at the Rose Garden on Tuesday, October 30th at 7 PM. Don't miss your chance to see Miley perform both as a solo artist and as her popular television character Hannah Montana in an exclusive Rose Garden suite!

In addition, you'll receive a Trail Blazers suite to see Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge take on Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets for the 2007-08 regular season home opener on November 7th at 7 PM. "

Big companies love "synergy." No surprise, its probably on the top 50 fun/cool words to say list. When something is that neat-o, there's really no need for it to make any sense. You do it so you can reassure everyone you are indeed getting your synergy on. Synergy. Nice.

I don't know a whole lot about Hannah Montana, so I did a little investigating. Wikipedia says she's the daughter of former mullet kingpin Billy Ray Cyrus, so she must be awesome. Also, a guy who wrote for The Smothers Brothers, Dolly Parton, and (naturally) In Living Color wants to sue her show.

The auction ends October 19th at 10:00 AM. Just enough time to secure a payday loan. God bless synergy.

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