As the Mavericks head into the Rose Garden tonight to face the Portland Trail Blazers, their two main targets on the defensive end will be last season's Rookie of the Year Brandon Roy and 2006's second overall pick, LaMarcus Aldridge. If you've been paying any attention over the last few months, you already know that this season's No. 1 overall selection, Greg Oden, is out for the season while he recovers from microfracture surgery on his knee.
Portland fans were obviously sad to hear the news about Oden's surgery, but in the end, it may end up working out even better for them (assuming Oden can come back full-strength). Here's how:
Portland finished last season with the third-worst record in the Western Conference, in part due to Brandon Roy's injury, overall youth and the lack of a go-to guy (no, Zach Randolph doesn't count). Now, Randolph is out of town, and the team is developing but not ready to contend yet. They are currently 2-3, and if they can continue that pace, they should end the season with about the same amount of wins as last year, 32.
Obviously, this is a big "if," but if they can somehow luck their way back into the lottery and grab yet another top 3 pick, they could be an unstoppable force in a couple of years with two top picks (Aldridge and Oden) and a player who should have been a top pick if some NBA GMs knew anything about basketball (Roy). Even if they didn't luck into another lottery selection, they would still likely find themselves picking around the 10th pick, which would still help them shore up even more solid youth.
So, that would put the Blazers with:
PG: Jarret Jack, Backup: Sergio Rodriguez or Steve Blake
SG: Brandon Roy, Backup: Taurean Green
SF: 2008 pick?, Backup: Martell Webster
PF: LaMarcus Aldridge, Backup: Channing Frye
C: Greg Oden, Backup: Joel Przybilla
Take my word for it, that would be an incredibly formidable lineup and one that could scare the pants off some Western Conference teams in 2010.
-Scooter Hendon, Hoops Nerd