Depth may sink Blazers again
Here we go again. The Trail Blazers opened training camp this week with a gymnasium full of talent. Depth Ñ that's what you're hearing about this team.
Great depth. As if that has something to do with winning NBA championships. You know the drill by now: Load the roster full of players, many of whom think they should be starters. And most of them are correct. They should be.
Chemistry problems? Let the coach work it out. Dump it in his lap. Never mind that depth never seems to win NBA titles, great players do Ñ preferably two of them on your roster and a bunch of role players around them.
Everyone but Bob Whitsitt seems to know that.
Now that I'm talking sports all the time on the radio, I get to interview even more experts than usual. Just this week, I asked a couple of them what they thought about the Blazers.
'I have a hard time understanding many of the deals the Blazers have made,' said former Portland coach Jack Ramsay, a basketball Hall of Famer and now a commentator for ESPN.
Remember, we're talking about going into camp with three point guards who expect to start. We have two off-guards who deserve to start. We have about three others who have been starters during their careers who won't start this year. Isn't that simply setting a coach up for a difficult season?
'It's very, very hard on a coach,' Ramsay said. 'Bob Whitsitt has a history of doing that. I admire Maurice Cheeks. He did a good job under stressful circumstances last year. Coaching is tough under the best of conditions. And this just compounds the difficulty, as I see it.'
Sam Smith is the president of the Pro Basketball Writers Association and the author of one of the most successful sports books of all-time, 'Jordan Rules.' He's been covering the league for years for the Chicago Tribune.
'It's the same Bob Whitsitt philosophy,' Smith said. 'Which I don't happen to agree with.
'The Blazer philosophy is to accumulate as many assets as you can. Don't worry about the chemistry Ñ let the coach figure it out. I'm not a great believer in that. They have a lot of talent. They upgraded their talent. But they've still got all those huge numbers of players Ñ and they're not always the most team-oriented players. And they all want to play the same positions.
'I just don't see how that all shakes out.'
Often it shakes out in a pretty decent regular-season record because the depth helps a team get through the 82-game grind. But in the playoffs, when playing rotations always tighten up, the depth is often meaningless.
Here we go again.