Extreme Makeover: NBA Edition

Thu, 07/03/2008 - 10:30am

Ladies and gentlemen, your opening day roster for the 2005-06 Portland Trailblazers:

Steve Blake

Juan Dixon

Jarrett Jack

Darius Miles

Travis Outlaw

Ruben Patterson

Joel Pryzbilla

Zach Randolph

Theo Ratliff

Charles Smith

Sebastian Telfair

Martell Webster

Not too pretty. But then, something incredible happened: GM John Nash was fired (Note to Jim Dolan – Notice that Paul Allen just fired John Nash. He didn’t make him the coach. He didn’t sign him to an extension after a 30-win season. He simply fired him). President Steve Patterson took over and appointed a man by the name of Kevin Pritchard to be his assistant. A year later, Patterson was out, Pritchard was in control, and the Blazers were competing for a playoff spot in the most competitive conference in NBA history without the services of the No. 1 overall pick in 2007.

Ladies and Gentlemen, without further ado, your 2008-09 Portland Trailblazers:

LaMarcus Aldridge[img_assist|nid=1379|title=Brandon Roy|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=320|height=213]

Nicolas Batum

Jerryd Bayless

Steve Blake

Ike Diogu

Rudy Fernandez

Channing Frye

Greg Oden

Travis Outlaw

Joel Pryzbilla

Sergio Rodriguez

Brandon Roy

Von Wafer

Martell Webster

[img_assist|nid=1378|title=Kevin Pritchard|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=293] Now, I’ve been a Knicks fan my entire life, and for the past seven years or so, I’ve felt what it’s like to root for a team that can seemingly do nothing right. I can sympathize with what fans in Portland were feeling in 2005. It’s a sort of “God, we need a miracle” mindset.

2006 NBA Draft:

Assisting Patterson, Pritchard helps turn Tyrus Thomas, Sebastian Telfair, and Viktor Khryapa into LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy. For those keeping score, Telfair, Khryapa, and Thomas combined for 19.7 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 8 assists per game this past season while Brandon Roy was blossoming into one of the best all-around players in the NBA (19.1, 5.8 APG, 4.7 RPG) and LaMarcus Aldridgewas putting up 18 and 8 per night.

Quick, Bulls fans: Imagine LaMarcus Aldridge feeding off post passes from Derrick Rose for the next ten years while Tyrus Thomas misses practice and clashes with coaches on some other team. Okay, where was I?

2007 NBA Draft:

No longer an assistant, Pritchard makes a splash in New York. First, the easy part – he selects Greg Oden with the No. 1 pick. Although I was in favor of Kevin Durant with that pick, I can’t fault him for choosing the second coming of David Robinson – agreat athlete, a world-class defender, a true competitor, and a model citizen.

With his next trick, he didn’t pull a rabbit out of his hat. No, this was far more impressive. He turned a cancerous, out-of-shape, one-dimensional power forward into Channing Frye. That’s not even the most amazing part. The thing about this deal that makes it truly magical is that he had New Yorkers, myself included, thinking that we robbed him.

Finally, he used Paul Allen’s deep pockets to purchase the 24th pick from the Phoenix Suns: Spanish guard Rudy Fernandez. Fernandez, who will be joining the Blazers for the coming season, just finished a year in Spain where he averaged over 21 points per game and won three separate MVP awards. A lot of scouts in Europe felt that had he been in this year’s draft he would have been a lottery pick.

2008 NBA Draft:

After what can only be called a successful season for the Blazers, Pritchard turned a late lottery pick into Jerryd Bayless, a player that many scouts believe was a top-5 talent. In that same deal, he also acquired Ike Diogu from Indiana, further fortifying his front line. Then, using New Orleans’ pick at 27, he was able to swing a deal that landed Nicolas Batum, a small forward with great potential that many compare to Rudy Gay.

All of this leads me to ask one question: Are we absolutely positive that Mike Eruzione scored the game-winning goal against the Soviet Unionin 1980? Are we sure it wasn’t Pritchard?

He’s done a miraculous job in Portland. From a basketball standpoint, they have talent and depth at every position. They have budding stars in Roy and Aldridge to go along with a healthy Oden. Their second string could start in the East and make a run at the playoffs. Furthermore, these players are all quality people. The Jail-Blazer label is gone. Now, Portland has a team that they can be proud of on and off the court.

Finally, he’s given hope to all fans of bottom-dwellers. Granted, he’s at an advantage with one of the richest owners in all of sports. But he’s proven that rebuilding efforts don’t have to be long and painful. For the first time in years, I am actually optimistic that the Knicks could be a contender again in my lifetime.

After seeing the quick turnaround in Portland, after witnessing the works of Kevin Pritchard, it's obvious Ripcity is back in Portland and they have one of the top young GMs in the NBA.

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