This offseason was a whirlwind of Portland Trail Blazer news being in the media, but it was for all the wrong reasons. Nobody was predicting a 16-3 start, LaMarcus Aldridge winning Player of the Week and Terry Stotts winning Coach of the Month — instead fans were wondering in LaMarcus Aldridge would even be in Portland this season. Last season was dismal as the Blazers finished 33-49 and Aldridge was none too pleased and made his displeasure known to whomever would listen.
Instead of panicking and shipping their star player out, general manager Neil Olshey listened to his 28-year-old stud and made a move to bring in a defensive-minded center. Enter Robin Lopez. There was a lot of movement this offseason; big names like Andre Iguodala, Dwight Howard and Josh Smith all playing for new franchises. One of the most underrated moves of the offseason — Robin Lopez to the Blazers. Here’s what Aldridge had to say back on media day for the Blazers regarding the offseason:
“This team looks really good. We have a better bench. We have (Robin) Lopez, who’s a true center. So I think this year should be good for us.”
Do The Right Thing
Who knew Spike Lee had the answer for Olshey back in his 1989 classic, but nonetheless Olshey did the right thing. He didn’t go out and overpay for a defensive big man, (*coughs* Omer Asik) instead he traded newly drafted Jeff Withey and two second-round picks for a serviceable center to play alongside LaMarcus Aldridge. If Aldridge had asked them to go out and get Dwight Howard, then this narrative would be much, much different and LA might be playing somewhere else, but I digress.
If you take a look at Robin’s numbers this season (8.7 points & 8.4 rebounds) you won’t be screaming for him to get more media attention — but if you have watched the games, then you know that RoLo has played a major role in the resurgence of this Blazer team. Last season Lopez posted nine double-doubles in 82 games; this season he already has six and we’re only 19 games in! The double-doubles are a nice bonus but Lopez knows he wasn’t brought here to put up big offensive numbers. His role is to play solid defense, rebound (the 8.4 rebounds are a career high), and block shots.
Perhaps the most important aspect of Lopez’ role? He allows Aldridge to play his true position at power forward. Last season LA was forced to play center for basically the entire season as 6’9″ J.J. Hickson just didn’t have the size. That was Aldridge’s main complaint this offseason and what you are seeing now are the fruits of a happy superstar, and a team with amazing chemistry early in this NBA season.
Aldridge and Lillard get all the publicity for the Blazers, rightfully so, but if you catch yourself finding the Blazers playing on national television (December 12th vs Houston is the next one) watch Robin Lopez and the impact he has on the others around him. It’s undeniable that he is making an impact and I would venture to say that the Blazers do not need to research an Omer Asik trade. Keep the chemistry where it is and if you’re Olshey when you think about making a trade or not; just think back to the initial move for Lopez — and do the right thing….again.