As The Pistons get ready to put their seven game winning streak on the line in Portland, I had a chance to do Q&A with Sean Meager of Oregon Live’s Blazers Blog.
Pistons fans got a great look at what LaMarcus Aldridge can do after he put up 27 at the Palace in the Blazers win over the Pistons. He’s averaging 17 a game and he’s been called “little Sheed.” Has he hit his plateau, or is this just the beginning for Aldridge?
Blazers Blog – LaMarcus Aldridge can’t even see his plateau from here. As good as Aldridge is right now, as you mentioned 17 ppg and 7 rebounds per game, he’s just 36 games into his third season. Sure, his numbers are similar to last year’s, but this Blazers team is better than that of last season. Aldridge, only 23-years-old, has the skill set to be one of the best power forwards in the game for a while. Critics will point to his affinity to face up more often than back down his defender, or that he needs to get more boards. Reasonable suggestions, but what makes LA so good is his versatility. He has the ability to face up his defender and go glass from 10, a la Tim Duncan, or he can catch and shoot from 17, hit the 3 or knock down the sweeping hook across the lane. What most (outside of Portland) may not realize at this point is: as Greg Oden gets better, LaMarcus Aldridge reaps the benefits.
The Blazers are packed with so much young talent, who has surprised you most with their play this season?
Blazers Blog – I respond to this Q the same every time. You may not know his name (yet) but rookie Nicolas Batum has quickly showed Portland fans why Kevin Pritchard and Co. did so much wheeling and dealing on draft day to acquire the forward out of France. Watching Batum in the Las Vegas Summer League, I wasn’t sure he was ready for the WNBA let alone the NBA. Maybe not that harsh, but the kid really opened some eyes during training camp and in the preseason. Starter Marell Webster goes down a few games prior to the season tip and Batum immediately steps in and provides an insurance policy with his fearless (yet smart) play, instincts and length (at 6’9″ kid has a 7’4″ wingspan). It’s not that Batum does any one thing exceptionally well, he’s just pretty solid all around. The fair comparison would be to your own Tayshaun Prince. He’s similar to Prince at Kentucky, with maybe a little less offensive propensity.
Portland is 20-14 and have lost their last 2 with All Star Brandon Roy sitting. We know what they did last season without Oden, but can they win without Roy?
Blazers Blog – The Blazers also beat Boston without Brandon Roy. Regardless, it’s much harder for this team to win consistently right now with Roy on the bench. Roy is so vital to the flow of the offense. He’s a facilitator. When he’s on the court, he puts all four teammates in a better position to succeed. There’s only a handful of players in this league I would feel as confident about with the ball in their hands and the game on the line.
Brandon Roy or Rodney Stuckey? If you can have only one, which do you pick?
Blazers Blog – Roy. Don’t get me wrong, I love Rodney Stuckey (have since his days at EWU) and would probably give up anyone else on the roster not named Aldridge or Oden for Stuckey. But Roy is one of the top 10 or 15 players in the league right now. So … Steve Blake and Sergio Rodriguez for Stuckey?
It must have been hard to watch Oden sit his rookie season, are you impress with what he’s done this season or did you have higher expectations? Given his play as of late, do you agree with the push by some folks in the blogosphere and your own paper for Przybilla to start and bring Oden the bench?
Blazers Blog – I think Oden is about where he should be at this point. Only playing one year in college; a year removed from the game; battling back from a significant surgery. Expecting him to come right out of the gate and post 20/10 a night is like hoping for college football to scrap the BCS and move to a playoff system. Not happening. Most rookies come into this league having played basketball non-stop leading into that rookie year. Oden spent his “rookie” season rehabbing a knee, getting healthy . So not only is he just learning the NBA game, and he’s only 28 games into his rookie season, but he’s getting back into playing shape. Prior to the season, general manager Kevin Pritchard said we probably wouldn’t start seeing the real Greg Oden until the All-Star break (and that was before the minor setback at the start of the season that kept him out 6 games). But we probably won’t start seeing the true Greg Oden until the start of next season. This season is all about the young man learning to play in the NBA, learning to play with his teammates, with NBA talent, against NBA talent, a full 82+ games, and most importantly, staying healthy.
Blazers fans have a love hate relationship with Rasheed, do you think it’s more hate than love? And do you resent the fact that he changed his attitude after coming to Detroit and helped the team win a Championship?
Blazers Blog -Sheed is a sensitive subject here. I personally have, and always will, love Sheed. He’s one of the most talented big men ever. Yes, he caused his own problems, but he was also vilified to a degree. Do I wish he had the drive to be the best player in the league? Eff yes. I don’t know that he necessarily changed his ‘tude when coming to Detroit, he was just in a better situation, put on a championship team needing a missing piece. As far as the love/hate ratio for Sheed in the Rose City? It’s probably 2 to 1, hate to love. Most people probably don’t care that much. I still have my red Blazers and Bullets Sheed jerseys.
Thanks to Sean for the Q&A, he asked me a few questions about Detroit and the matchup tonight, you can check out my thoughts over at Blazers Blog.
We should have Sheed back for this one, but it looks like Rip is still down for the count.
UPDATE: Sheed will not play.
Portland has some pretty darn good ones themselves. Senior Team Need4Sheed member Steve DiLullo caught a game at the Rose Garden last year and made sure he caught them for our enjoyment.
Tip off is at 10:00 P.M. and will be locally broadcast on FSN . If you can’t watch the broadcast, tune into 1130 AM The Fan. Can’t do either? Follow the game on NBA.com.