Another weekend, another pair of Portland Trail Blazers wins, another Dallas Cowboys collapse and another ridiculous Blazers kerfuffle. It is time to stop and take stock of this weekend by assigning shelves to the weekend’s developments, moments and whimsy. So let’s break out our Fjälkinges and Vittsjös so we can get our shelf on.
Blazers Weekend Trends:
Top Shelf: Excellence at the three point line.
Anytime you hit 21 threes in a game, you have to be doing something right. The Blazers backcourt ran the floor and created openings time and time again and happened to knock down shots over and over without forcing shots. Lost in the barrage of threes was a season high 41 assists, including nine for Nic Batum to add to three triples of his own. The three’s didn’t flow as well in Detroit, but they allowed the Pistons inefficient starters to take as many as they pleased, leading to a 3-15 night and allowing the Blazers to hang around after the Pistons took charge in the third.
Middle Shelf: Blazers staying out of foul trouble.
One of the reasons that the Blazers starters have been able to play so aggressively of late has been how little they have been fouling other teams. Portland is third in the league with only 18.5 fouls per game which has allowed LaMarcus Aldridge and Robin Lopez to battle hard on the boards all game long and finish strong by playing starters for long fourth quarter shifts.
Bottom Shelf: Damian Lillard’s ineffectiveness in the paint.
This chart is very indicative of Portland’s offense this year. On the positive side, Damian Lillard’s hot shooting from the sides is shows of how good this team has been with Mo Williams on the floor and off ball. However, that 37.4% mark in the paint is very troubling for the Blazers going forward. Lillard looks lost when he gets in the lane of a pick or a shot fake and looks to kick it out too late, leading to him getting caught in the air without a plan. During the last play of regulation, I began feeling doom as soon as Lillard crossed the free throw line and I was far from surprised that he ended up in the air and out of control, leading to a turnover. Damian redeemed himself with a great shot to win it in overtime, but he needs to be able finish in the paint on a more regular basis if the Blazers are to make a deep playoff run.
Former Blazers player to add to this team:
Top Shelf: Rasheed Wallace.
This probably seems naive, but hear me out. Clyde Drexler was a much better player, but he couldn’t hit three’s and would command the ball too much to avoid drastically changing the offense. Who knows how good Bill Walton would be in this era, nevertheless how the spacing with him and Aldridge would look. Rasheed could shoot the ball well and play the energetic defense that was so effective both in Portland and Detroit. Although if young, pre-knee injury Arvydas Sabonis is available in this hypothetical, I am choosing him in a heartbeat.
Middle Shelf: Brandon Roy
This hypothetical too depressing to be on the top shelf. I am still in deep denial about the fact that Brandon is not in the league. The only thing that would help is if the Blazers hired him to do halftime reports with Adam Bjaranson and then fast tracked him to the color commentator job. You tell me you wouldn’t shed a tear of joy any time you would see Roy interview LaMarcus after a big win. Until then, we will always have Dallas…
Bottom Shelf: Bassy Telfair
Is It just me, or did the Sebastian Telfair era feel like it lasted forever? He only played in Portland two years, but he somehow packed in decade’s worth of blocked layups and off balance bricks into just 136 games. A lot of things didn’t go Bassy’s way (didn’t choose to go to Louisville and develop/mature for a year under Rick Pitino; drafted into possibly the worst locker room in NBA history; had the pressure of being “the man” throughout his formative years but was forced to work for every point he got in the pros; entering the NBA just as defenders were figuring out the herky-jerky moves and dominating smaller guards; etc…) but he still didn’t make the best decisions and had enough chances to carve out his niche in the league. In a perfect world, he plays a year at Louisville, his draft stock dips but he game is still good enough that Detroit picks him up at 26th that next year and he ends up with a Nate Robinson-esque career. Unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect world and Bassy is stuck jacking up long, off balance twos. That’s life for you.
Blazers ‘What If’s:
Top Shelf: Blazers draft Michael Carter-Williams instead of C.J. McCollum.
I have to admit that I have a thing for tall point guards. Anytime I hear a point guard is 6’5” or taller I immediately imagine Penny Hardaway 2.0 running the fast break, so when the media was dumping on MCW’s draft stock, I felt ashamed that I wanted the Blazers to draft him. Lo and behold, Carter-Williams is playing like a poor man’s Penny Hardaway and we have yet to see McCollum play. MCW would allow Lillard to play off the ball more, can backup three positions and would give Portland some much needed nickname cred (I still cringe everytime I hear “L-train”). Also within draft “What If” range is Giannis Antetokounmpo, who would also bring in a bevy of nickname options. Just imagining the “Greek Freak” (or “Ante the Giannt” if you prefer) and Batum on the floor together is giving me a raging Bilas-gasism.
Middle Shelf: Say it with me people: Coach Rasheed Wallace.
It is real and it is fantastic. I wish Dick Bavetta had T’d him up last night just for old time’s sake. I am glad Mo Cheeks hired him to his staff, because If Terry Stotts brought him to his bench, my head would have exploded in seven different ways.
Bottom shelf: Any Meyers Leonard contract extension.
Let me put it this way: I would rather the Blazers bring back Raef Lafrentz then having to watch an uncoordinated seven footer that looks and acts like a villain from an awful 80’s teen movie. Best to just let the New York Knicks overpay him and move on through the draft or a trade (to the Knicks for Tim Hardaway Jr. perhaps?)
Christmas Tree Lights:
Top shelf: White Lights
Middle Shelf: Single Color Lights
Bottom shelf: Multi-colored lights
White lights are definitely the way to go. Multi colored lights are way too busy and belong on the monstrosity that is now your front porch. Single colored lights are acceptable as they can give solid contrast, but the white lights give the best glow and create a look of neatness unachievable with other lights. I don’t know if you have taken your eyes away from the Pinterest instructions long enough, but the tree itself (if you’ve done things right to this point) in green. Any other color necessary comes from your ornaments, ribbons and that blob your nephew made.
I work for child-care organization and on a “snow” day (i.e.: fog and wet ground), me and a co-worker spent an hour trying to get our tree upright and in a position where it won't crush, electrocute, or impale a kid with the star. Then our two supervisors came in and messed with our purposefully modest decorations. This was all fine until they added GODDAMN MULTICOLORED LIGHTS. And not just the regular sized ones either; these were those massive bulbs. Now my daily highlight is unPLUGing the awful thing every night as we close up. Next year I am bringing in an aluminum pole, and I’ll be damned if they can get me to take it down.
Blazers Jersey Redesign:
I understand that people like the Blazers current look, but it is beginning to wear on me. Every time I see the home whites I think of the Jail-Blazers and of Brandon Roy. This team has as a new identity but it needs to go back to two of its old looks, both of which were canceled before their time. The Sabonis era jerseys were clean and simple, and had the best lettering of all their past looks. The only thing I would change is the names on the back which are a bit busy and would look better if it contrasted it with the number, a la the new Phoenix Suns jerseys. You could also substitute “rip city” for “blazers” on the red jersey if you're into that sort of thing.
Middle Shelf: Expansion of the current alternate.
Bottom Shelf: Expansion of the “Rip City” jerseys.
We just played Detroit in a “Rip City” versus “Motor City” game, and the Pistons showed us how the nickname jersey it done. The Motor City jersey is simple but has enough elements in the trim to make it pop. The Rip City alternate on the other hand does little but provided another jersey to purchase in the team shop. Please revamp or toss out and kill the parallelogram.
Top Shelf: Tony Romo
Middle Shelf: Tom Brady
Bottom Shelf: Drew Brees/Eli Manning
One of my least favorite #HOTTAKES is when second tier quarterbacks are called “elite” for dumb reasons just to drum up controversy. People mention always mention Drew Brees as the kicker in the Peyton Manning/Tom Brady debate, but he and the New Orleans Saints throw the ball a ridiculous amount of times, and when the system is even a little out of place they do things like hurt my Rams draft position. Stop ruining my fantanking Drew Brees! Eli Manning is always mentioned in the conversation as well, but only because his defense carried him to two Super Bowls. Now he is Mark Sanchez bad? The football gods may suck sometimes, but they know when to cut people down to size.
(Cut to: Tim Tebow, Rob Gronkowski and Gene Chizik nodding as Jameis Winston laughs in the face of the gods, who are actively planning his demise.)
Top shelf: Monday (Ravens at Lions)
I didn’t care about this game until a friend showed me the playoff machine. Now I can’t stop flipping this game back and forth and ohmygod they could tie! SO MANY RAMIFICATIONS!
Middle Shelf: Wednesday (Blazers at T’wolves)
One of my coworkers found out he had a bunch of vacation days saved up and decided to take all the Wednesdays off for the rest of the calendar year. Wednesdays are the ideal day off because you get to enjoy all the weekday off perks then have just two days left until the weekend. He also gets to avoid “three-day weekend fatigue” and stays useful enough on his Wednesday to satisfy his fiancée. Coincidentally, he is probably the happiest guy I know.
Bottom Shelf: NO THURSDAY GAME!
And thank goodness for that. No more rushing home as west-coaster to catch the second half of terrible football. If you struggle to fill those 3 hours, may I suggest Only God Forgives, which is currently on Netflix. Critics complained that it was needlessly filled with violence, but after 15 weeks of Thursday football, can you really tell the difference anymore? There is also a lot of Ryan Gosling deadpanning in front of neon lights, so you can convince the faint of heart that it’s just like Drive but with meaningless Karaoke scenes. I can’t think of a better way to end your last week before your kids are out of school and you have to keep them busy until you give up and send them to your local child care professional so you can catch up on crappy bowl games/afternoon drinking. Enjoy.