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2010-11 NBA Preview: Portland Trail Blazers

The Blazers are deep and talented. If you don’t agree, then you can explain to me how a team that lost their starting Center and his backup for the season, while their All Star Shooting Guard played in only 65 games – a lot of those with nagging injuries – and the guy they call a PF also played through nagging injuries. I mean, when you have to trade for Marcus Camby halfway through the season, you have to wonder if you’re not tempting fate at the Center position, but now the Blazers are looking at being two-deep in every position.

Of course, that often translates into fantasy mediocrity across the board, since it’s likely that no one on the roster is going to get enough playing time to do any serious fantasy damage. Of course, with the injury history of the players on the Blazers, the only guy who isn’t about to let someone take over his fantasy value is Andre Miller (who’s seen 82 games in more seasons than most of the Blazers have seen in the league). Even if all the starters decide to take some time off, the youngest of the young guys will still have plenty of time to cross the river to get some Vancouver escorts. How far back are they? Well, look at this depth chart for the Blazers and see that “depth” really applies in this case.

Depth Chart
PG: Andre Miller, Jerryd Bayless, Brandon Roy, Armon Johnson
SG: Brandon Roy, Rudy Fernandez (?), Wesley Matthews, Elliot Williams
SF: Nicholas Batum, Wesley Matthews, Brandon Roy, Luke Babbitt
PF: LaMarcus Aldridge, Marcus Camby, Dante Cunningham, Jeff Pendergraph
C: Greg Oden, Joel Pryzbilla, Marcus Camby

Patrick and Erik are quite bullish (pun sort of intended) on Brandon Roy, putting him at 22 and 25, respectively on our 2010 Fantasy Basketball Player Rankings. I bring down the average with my 37. I guess I consider my ranking the “realist” point of view, considering his 42 from last year. I don’t see him getting back over 5 assists and if Oden or Pryzbilla (or both!) can stay healthy, Roy’s rebounds certainly won’t go up. Even though Yahoo has somehow qualified him at SF this year, as someone who took him in the first round in the past, I can’t see using a second round pick to add him to my team.

Marcus Camby should be relegated to a backup player this year, but when backing up guys whose careers are following the trajectory of M. Night Shyamalan, you have to be pretty upbeat about his upside potential. Even if his minutes go down a bit, he’s still a proven defender and rebounding machine whose recently Games Played actually looks pretty decent compared to the other two flimsy-limbed 7-footers. As a bonus, he’s eligible as an FC in Yahoo leagues.

LaMarcus Aldridge has pretty much shown where he’s going to be, probably for the rest of his fantasy-relevant career.

Greg Oden. Oh, Greg Oden. Where Patrick and Erik are taking Brandon Roy in the 2nd, they’re more realistic with Oden down at 91. We all know there’s risk there, but when you look at his numbers, and the fact that he actually played 61 games 2 years ago, I see potential (don’t read too much into that, though – I’d only go up to the start of the 8th). If he puts up the kind of numbers he did in 21 games last year for 61 this season, he’s practically a 3rd round pick… I feel like it’s definitely worth that kind of risk in the 8th round…

Nicholas Batum – aka BatOOM! – is as close as we can get to a true sleeper in this year’s draft. We have him at 103, and from what I see, he’s going right around there in mock drafts, but we’re talking about a guy who didn’t even play until January of last year. He could be something like “The Matrix Reloaded” since he’s sort of like Shawn Marion from a few years ago, except definitely not as good as the original (and now almost forgotten), but his numbers project close to 15 and 5 with a steal, a block and 2 threes if he gets “starters minutes” this time around.

If Nicholas Batum is the Sleeper, Andre Miller is the Stand By. He’ll probably never get back to 9-10 assists per game (or even 7-8), but he will play in 82 games. That’s important when the Blazers have one of the least fantasy friendly schedules. You want to make sure you have these guys when they’re going on one of their few 4+ game weeks.

Wesley Matthews is someone to watch in case Brandon Roy misses time again, but he’s probably not worth drafting until someone on the Blazers is actually injured. In the case of a healthy team, Matthews won’t see enough time to be relevant in any but the deepest leagues.

Rudy Fernandez is supposedly going to be taking his talents somewhere else (perhaps in Europe?) and that uncertainty makes him worth watching, but not worth drafting. Even if he does end up playing for the Blazers, as with Matthews, Rudy will be backing up Roy and Batum unless/until one of them is injured.

Official GMTR Guidance
Brandon Roy – 2nd round if you’re optimistic, 3-4th round otherwise
Marcus Camby – 4th round
LaMarcus Aldridge – 5th round
Greg Oden – 7th round if you don’t have much risk on your team already, 8-9th round otherwise
Nicholas Batum – 8th round Sleeper
Andre Miller “Lite” – 10th round

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