And the Envelope Please…………………..
Time for the BlazersOG mid-season awards. Although it could be argued that every member of this team deserves an award due to their collective effort so far this season, we at the BlazersOG took on the unenviable task of handing out this season’s mid-season awards. Through hours of rigorous debate similar to the First Continental Congress, the editorial staff of the BlazersOG are happy to present the following awards.
MVP: Brandon Roy
If we have to explain this you are a Lakers fan and, accordingly, should be shot.
Most Improved: Travis Outlaw
Conventional wisdom points to LaMarcus Aldridge for this award. There is no denying Aldridge is putting up impressive numbers this season compared to last. However, but for a rash of injuries, Aldridge was putting up impressive Rookie numbers, especially in his last eleven games of the season. Coming into this year, many NBA talking heads had Aldridge as a “player to watch.” Simply put, LaMarcus is not really having a breakout year, but actually a continuation of what we saw last year.
Travis Outlaw, on the other hand, has improved as a player in the true sense of the word. He has improved in all major statistical categories, including an almost 4 point bump in his points per game. But more importantly Outlaw has surfaced as the leader of the “white unit,” making the Blazers’ bench a lethal weapon in many games. Moreover, behind Brandon Roy, Outlaw has emerged as the go-to guy in the 4th quarter as seen in his two game-winning shots against Memphis and Atlanta. Apparently the 5th time is the charm because Travis Outlaw, in his 5th season, is proving to be critical part of the Blazers’ success this year.
Best Defender: Joel Przybilla
This was a difficult award to pick both because the Blazers at times this season have looked horrible on defense and because their success defensively has largely occurred with the team-orientated “zone.” With that being said, Joel gets our mid-season award. Statistically, Joel is having an average year compared to years’ past. But for the true Blazer fan who watches most games, Pryzbilla is a no-brainer.
Although his strengths can’t be found on the score sheet it seems a game does not go by without Joel taking at least one charge or coming up huge with some help defense down low. He regularly has to guard the opponent’s dominant big man and holds his own, as seen in Portland’s recent game with Houston. Even though the Blazers lost, it was no fault of Przybilla’s, who guarded Yao Ming for most of the night, holding him to a meager 11 points, half his season average. Joel comes to work everyday with a hard hat and a lunch pail and for that reason he is the mid-season Best Defender.
Most Underrated: Jarrett Jack
The 2007-2008 season has been a rollercoaster ride for Jarrett Jack. This season Jack has had to transition from being an everyday starter at point guard to coming off the bench and often times playing the 2. Through it all Jack has never complained, at least publicly. He remains the team’s “glue” player both on and off the court. Jack is prone to fits of inconsistency and can at times turn the ball over too much. But for every rookie play, Jack seems to make it up with huge scoring bursts off the bench, critical steals, or crunch-time drives to the hoop. Jack has a knack of getting hot when his teammates are not feeling it. Jarrett has emerged as a “jack of all trades” who many times is overlooked for what he brings to the team.
Most Disappointing: Sergio Rodriguez
With such a great year going, we at the BlazerOG hated to get negative, but like all true fans, it is sometimes helpful to be introspective, even of your favorite team. Coming into this year there was much to be excited about as a Blazer fan and at the top of that list was Sergio Rodriguez. Last season every time Spanish Chocolate took the court you could feel energy go through the Rose Garden. The fans never knew what he was going to do next, whether it be a crazy drive to the hoop or a no-look, behind the back pass. Sergio has had his moments this year but his inability to take care of the ball, his piss-poor defense and his knack for taking silly shots his lessened some of the enthusiasm for Sergio. We are not ready to give up on Sergio (and for that matter never will) but collectively hope that Sergio turns his season around and brings back some of that magic he had last year.