Long term goals provide vision for people and organizations alike. They make you consider what you’re aiming for, prompt you to think about what you really want. A short term goal, on the other hand, is where the rubber meets the road. These are the day-to-day mileposts that make you consider what’s important and what just gets in the way of reaching your ultimate prize. The Portland Trail Blazers organization seems to have gained perspective on how an NBA Championship becomes a reality.
Championship teams in a small market like Portland are not built on free-agent spending sprees or a blockbuster trade. Portland needs to make prudent decisions. It takes time to accumulate the right collection of players, coaches and management.
Paul Allen and his trusted team of advisors appear to be giving new Blazers General Manager Neil Olshey some latitude. Some may fault Olshey for assembling a weak bench this season, but I don’t. Olshey is utilizing this season to see what kind of assets he has to work with. In reality, I think Olshey discovered he has some better talent than he may have guessed. This past summer’s draft class, at first glance, is a winner. The recent acquisition of Eric Maynor looks crafty.
Four of five of the Blazer starters will return next year and be counted on to be high impact players. Aldridge, Batum, Lillard, and Matthews could all start for any team in the league. The second team will likely return four guys, and because of Head Coach Terry Stott’s willingness to play young players, will be prepared to contribute and expected to do so. Most important, this team has time to develop chemistry. Simply understand one another’s tendencies.
In the twilight of the often hobbled Roy-Aldridge-Oden era, the Blazers looked as if they had no clue of where they were headed. Disappointed and heartbroken over what could have been, the Blazers seemed to be wandering aimlessly in the direction of a championship. They accumulated aging players with recognizable names that helped to keep the Rose Garden full. But this was not a sustainable strategy and it wasn’t long before that proved true.
In the present the Blazers are building through the draft and developing, a sensible approach. Neil Olshey appears to be a savvy evaluator of talent. They have an all-star, and quite possibly multiple rising stars. I for one am excited about this new era of Blazer basketball. All their goals are still in front of them, if they follow a consistent path to achievement.
Patrick Hughes is on Twitter. Follow him at @phughespdx