Watching these Olympic basketball games have got me thinking about what this team is going to look like when they tip off against the Los Angeles Lakers on Halloween at the Rose Garden. What will this team's identity be? What is Neil Olshey's "vision" for this team that he has talked about a lot? Who will the coach be?
A lot of questions have been answered so far this offseason but a few still linger. The roster has basically shaken out and summer ball is behind us. We have all seen what potential these rookies and younger players have and can bring to this team. But Blazer fans are always trying to answer the next question.
The pressing question on most Blazer fans’ minds is who the next coach will be. This past week the list of finalists was narrowed down to 4. In my opinion it is looking more and more like Kaleb Canales is going to have the interim tag removed and become the next head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers. Not exactly who I have been hoping and pulling for, but I think he is a good fit. The players endorse him; he is young and energetic and knows Portland. All of these things factor into Olshey and Paul Allen's decision.
My big question right now is what will the identity of this team be. There are so many new players, five rookies, there's going to be a new coach. So much change since last year’s dismal season.
Bringing in five rookies is something very few teams do, and even more rare to be successful doing so. The three players that the team drafted all played in summer league and Blazer fans got their first glimpse of what they can do. The other two rookies are coming over from Europe to join the team and they are both playing for their respective countries in the Olympics.
Joel Freeland, for Great Britain in the first game of pool play at the Olympics, had 13 points and 10 rebounds. He is a talented big man that can help the front court of this young, developing team. Victor Claver, for Spain, only had two minutes of action but is a very talented wing that could help the Blazers with productive minutes off the bench.
Those two guys are my wild cards for this season. If they can come in and give immediate product, they can help this young team find success and overachieve. If they come in and struggle to adjust to the NBA game, this team will be incredibly thin and struggle to find productivity past the starting lineup.
All of these questions will really be answered in time. All is speculation at this point. I like to think about it as "informed speculation", but really we are all on the outside looking in. There will be some fun pick-and-roll highlights, some big nights from LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard, and some loud nights at the RG. For now we all can watch the three Blazers in the Olympics; Freeland, Claver, and Nicolas Batum and wait for Halloween.