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I just found out about the big news. It's crazy thinking about Oden missing his first season after all the hype and everything. I guess Durant is a lock for the ROY award.

Anyways, the first thought that entered my mind was that it sucked. Of course! Losing your Number One pick for a whole season never will be positive. Especially if that particular rookie has been heralded as the new Bill Russell. So really, it's all bad.

However, if you look deep enough, you will see the "benefits" of the injury. Please bear in mind, though, that I would rather have Oden playing in Portland this season. But since reality sucks, let's all look at the positives. Let's go.


1. THE FRONTCOURT - The current roster was tailor-made for Greg Oden. They stocked up on role players, pass-first point guards who shoot the ball well from deep, and complementary pieces in the front-court. Plus, they jettisoned Zach Randolph in order to clear cap space and rebuild their image. A lot of you would probably think that the Zach Randolph trade seems pretty boneheaded in hindsight. The Blazers are now left with no low-post scoring threat in a conference that punishes frontcourt weakness. I don't see it that way, though. The trade of Randolph and Oden's injury will only help accelerate the development of Channing Frye and LaMarcus Aldridge. Remember, Aldridge went ballistic during the final games of last season, so with the assurance of playing time and an increased offensive responsibility, we should quickly find out if he is as good as advertised. In my opinion, he will be.

Up next is Channing Frye. He might be the biggest benificiary of Oden's injury. With Oden projected to play, Frye was considered to be the 2nd big guy off the bench for the Blazers. Pryzbilla would have to be Oden's immediate replacement because of his size, and Aldridge isn't that foul-prone. So he figures to log only about 15-20 minutes per game since he might be considered too small to play center in the West. But with Oden out, the Blazers would have no choice but to start Frye. Even if he doesn't start, they wouldn't give Pryzbilla heavy minutes! Unless they were tanking... Hmmm... Haha. Frye sucked last year, but he had a pretty good rookie season in NY. So I'll credit his shitty season to Isiah Thomas' stupidity. Maybe he never found a role last year, maybe the expectations were just too high, maybe an injury bothered him a lot. We'll never know exactly why, but I have high hopes for him. Hell, he was ranked # 220 in the recent edition of the NBA Fantasy Draft Cheat Sheet! That goes to show you how much was expected of him with Oden in the lineup.

2. THE BACKCOURT - The backcourt will benefit for all the obvious reasons, so I won't focus on this too much. It's as obvious as Kanye kicking 50's ass in the charts! The backcourt will certainly "improve" in the sense that they won't have Oden to cover for their defensive blunders. This will make Coach McMillan still preach about defense, so somehow that should affect their development. However, the chemistry between a center and a point guard takes time to develop, so it would have been nice if they could start playing together as soon as possible.

3. TEAM CHEMISTRY - It seems like it that Greg Oden will not be having a relatively injury-free career, so it would be wise to assume that his team will have to play without for stretches in a season. If so, then they will have to win together. And usually, that's a good thing. Playing effectively without your franchise player can only help you in the long run. A similar thing happened to the Raptors in the early 2000's (I think). Vince Carter was injured and his team suddenly went on a tear. The only difference is that Vince is not the team player Greg Oden appears to be. I see Oden as Duncan for the new-school, someone who understands his role on the team and will not do anything to disrupt the balance. I also expect him to gain the full trust of his teammates in 2 or 3 years, so disputes should be few and far between. Also think about the potentials of Travis Outlaw and Martell Webster. It's put-up-or-shut-up time for these two, and the Blazers will witness first-hand how good (or bad) these players will be. The upcoming season should be like training camp for the Blazers, as they will determine who stays and who goes.

4. DARIUS MILES - As bad as the reports are about Miles' health, I read somewhere that he's working extra hard to make a successful comeback from knee surgery. Assuming he makes it back at nearly 100%, he has the perfect opportunity to show he still has it. With Oden in the picture, the team's focus revolved around Greg, Brandon Roy and Aldridge. Now, he's only behind Roy and Aldridge. And as good as those two are, they will still be just sophies. Darius Miles will have to assume a leadership (HA!) role because he's probably the longest-tenured Blazer right now. I admit that this is stretching it a bit because: (a) even at full health, D-Miles was not much of a player and (b) Miles is notorious for having poor judgment (on and off the court). So it would admittedly be very shocking if Nate handed him the keys to the team. But at the very least, the Blazers would still expect substantial from him. And with Oden in the picture, I doubt he would have gotten it.

5. DRAFT POSITIONING IN 2008 - The BEST thing about the Oden injury is that despite all the positives above, the Blazers will still suck badly enough to be in a position to get the top pick next year. Yes, it is more unlikely to expect two STRAIGHT # 1 picks than to win the lottery, but even a Top 3 position in the Draft would be good. Let me simplify it for you: 2007 Blazers = 7th seed in the Draft (I think). 2008 Blazers = 2007 Blazers - Zach Randolph + Channing Frye = at worst, the 4th or 5th seed in the Lottery. Going from # 7 to # 1 last year, it isn't entirely unrealistic to believe that they will have a chance at the Top 3. It's basically the same roster as last year minus the excellence of Randolph. Take him away and this team is way worse. Yeah, I know that both Roy and Aldridge have a year's worth of experience now, but that big of a leap is very hard to do (unless you're Deron Williams). So I expect Roy and Aldridge to get better, but not enough to get to the playoffs, let alone be better than last year.

With no clear-cut # 1 pick next year (some mock drafts even projected OJ Mayo to be taken 5th overall!) and lots of good PGs available, the possibility of the Blazers nabbing Derrick Rose is very real. Or maybe even Mayo? I don't know. That's a scary thought. But even at the 5th pick, they could get a good point guard like Tywon Lawson or Darren Collison. I haven't seen them play much, but they should be better than what the Blazers have now. Either way, anytime you get a Top 10 pick, while your # 1 pick is returning that same year, it's all good. Very good.

Yeah, there are negatives, too. You lose about 15 ppg, 8 rpg and 2 bpg. Blah blah blah. But the Blazers are a rebuilding team, and patience must be exercised. Just imagine the starting lineup they could field next year. A year's worth of mediocrity could be rewarded with the franchise's return to the Playoffs.

Digg! BallHype: hype it up!


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