Being the unabashed Kobe fan that I am, I have to admit that now I'm scared. I mean last offseason I was scared thinking that the Lakes barely made the playoffs and would have to spend '07 dealing with healthy Utah, Houston, and a freshly seasoned New Orleans to make the playoffs. I prayed for major improvements. None came. But luckily the faithful old Clips and Kings fell off and Kobe was able to drag those other guys into the playoffs. This offseason, though, is monumental for the Kobe era. Why well let's look at the West.
These six teams are locked in unless Bonzi Wells losses it and kills some people. That only leaves TWO spots left with 9 teams to go. That's worse odds than Jerry West had for the #1 pick and we all know what happened there. Speaking of the Grizz, let's eliminate them right now.
Yes, these teams all suck donkey dick and have absolutely zero chance of posteseason life next year. Basically all 3 squads are fodder for the rest of the league to scavenge decent players from. Minus these 3 losers brings us down to SIX teams vying for those TWO spots.
Golden State, Seattle, and the Clippers really don't scare me. They have amassed a lot of talent, but are poor teams, which means they are capable of incredibly hot streaks, but over the course of 82 games I'm taking Kobe. New Orleans has slowly put together a winner adn barring major injuries again this year I fully expect them to make the playoffs. That leaves only Portland in the way of my guy 24 seeing the postseason. And frankly that scares me. Here's why:
exhibit A: The Twin Towers
Portland will draft Greg Oden. They have to. The opportunity to pair Oden with Aldridge has devastating possibilities. There's only been two real Twin Tower scenarios in my lifetime and they both were wildly successful. The obvious one is Duncan/Robinson. Both were natural shotblockers and rebounders who could run the floor. The were an impossible matchup, and the fact that both guys could post or face up meant that they dominated both sides of the floor from freethow to baseline. They immediately won a championship. The other set was Olajuwon/Sampson. Don't laugh. You have to understand, Ralph's knees only allowed him to play 3.5 real seasons of basketball, and he was matched up with Hakeen for only 2.5 of those years. Ralph Sampson was KG before there was a KG, except he was 7-4. For the 2 full seasons the twin towers were together they combined to average 42.5 points, 22.4 boards, 4.8 blocks, and 2.8 steals. Even Wilt respects those numbers! And to top it off, the Rockets won 99 games over those two seasons. Get this, the Lakers went to all 10 Western Conference Championships in the 80's, and only lost 2. One of those loses was a 4-1 embarassment at the hands of Olajuwon and Sampson. Only Larry Bird, having the greatest season of his career (not to mention Parrish and McHale), stopped Houston from bringing home the gold cup.
Bottomline: Towers win. And yes! Those are the Ralph Sampson Puma LE's. Check the signature.
exhibit B: Bigs Win!
A quick chart for those of you swearing up and down that Jordan turned it into a guard's league.
Recent NBA Champions
2004:Pistons (ok, fair argument here, even though Shaq was present)
Bottomline: You wanna be on espn, go small. You want to win rings, go BIG!
exhibit C: The Youth Movement
Greg Oden is about to change the whole Portland basketball culture. Originally the blueprint was to build around Z-Bo Randolph and D.Miles. But this past season's draft heists of Aldridge and Roy opened Blazer eyes to a new path. Oden represents the final brick in that path. The Blazers can now begin a true youth movement led by the Roy and the Twin Towers version 3.0. That triumvirate takes the pressure off of every other young Blazer Jarret Jack, Sergio Rodriguez, Martell Webster, Travis Outlaw, and Ime Udoka. Instead of searching to see how these gusy can fit, there are very defined roles to fill: ball handler, defender, outside shooter. It's always easier to do your job when you know exactly what it is you have to do. These guys will now have the oppurtunity to excel. Plus this gives the Blazers major leverage to trade both Z-Bo and Miles for better fits. With the major pieces for the movement in place Portland brass can feel free to move those guys for less than market value so long as they bring veteran, character guys to help the youngens out. It's a seller's market in Portland.
Bottomline: With a couple of smart trade moves to go along with the Oden pick, the Blazers could make the playoffs. And that scares the shit out of me. Somebody call the Logo. Kobe needs some help!