Friday, June 24, 2011

Blazers trade Andre Miller & Rudy Fernandez; acquire Raymond Felton, draft Nolan Smith

By Kshell

Well the Portland Trail Blazers were active yet again on draft day as they made a big trade which allowed them get younger at the point guard position. The Blazers have really improved their roster from the team who won 54 games in the 2009 season if Greg Oden and Brandon Roy can stay healthy they could make some noise. I'll talk about them staying healthy later in the calender year for now I'll focus on what happened today. The big move was the Blazers in a three team trade with the Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks acquired Raymond Felton while giving up Andre Miller to the Nuggets. The Blazers basically gave away Fernandez to the Dallas Mavericks who could be potentionally look at a replacement for Peja Stojakovic. The Blazers then in the draft selected Nolan Smith out of Duke university with the 21st pick overall. The Blazers recognizing that the point guard position is important brought in some youth at the point guard position. The Blazers in doing this move traded away at times their second best player on the roster the last two years in Miller who stepped up big time when Roy was sidelined with injuries.

The Blazers dealt starting point guard Andre Miller after just two seasons with the team. Miller in his first year in Portland averaged 14.0 points per game with 5.4 assists per game. Miller shot 44.5% from the field but just 20.0% from three pointers. In the playoff series loss to the Suns in six games Miller averaged 15.7 points per game and 6.0 assists per game while shooting 40.5% from the field and three for seven from three pointers. Then last year Miller saw his scoring decrease but his assists increase as he averaged 12.7 points per game and 7.0 assists per game. He shot 46.0% from the field but just 10.8% from three pointers. In the playoffs Miller averaged 14.8 points per game and 5.5 assists per game while shooting 49.3% from the field and 4-10(40.0%) from three pointers. Miller who has never won a playoff series before would be 35 entering next season. Miller was getting up there in age plus he couldn't stretch the floor with his shooting but his production will be equal to Felton. The difference is Felton gives the Blazers a guy who can knock down a jumper while being much younger.

For the Blazers they are acquiring Raymond Felton from division rival Denver Nuggets. Felton was part of the blockbuster trade a few months ago that involved Carmello Anthony. Felton last year for the New York Knicks averaged 17.1 points per game and 9.0 assists per game while shooting 42.3% from the field and 32.8% from three pointers as he averaged 1.6 three point makes a game. When he was traded to Denver his numbers decreased as he had to adjust and the Nuggets don't run as much as the Knicks do. Felton for the Nuggets averaged 11.5 points per game and 6.5 assists per game while shooting 43.1% from the field and 45.9% from three pointers making 1.3 three's a game. In the first round playoff loss to the Oklahoma City Zombies Felton averaged 11.6 points and 4.2 assists as he shot just 36.0% from the field and 4-16(25.0%) from three pointers. Felton overall for the season averaged 15.5 points per game and 8.3 assists per game which the Blazers will gladly take. Felton is also playing on his fourth different team since the 2010 season but is a former lotto pick. Felton is turning 27 pretty soon and is able to stretch the floor unlike Miller. This is a move that will help the Blazers offense for now and especially help them in the future.

The Blazers to complete the three team trade gave away Rudy Fernandez to the world champion Dallas Mavericks. Fernandez who was drafted 24th overall in the 2007 draft came to the Blazers with tons of hype for the 2008-09 season. He was a fan favorite especially for the ladies he was supposed to be an athletic player who can hit three pointers. Fernandez as a rookie averaged 10.5 points per game on 42.5% from the field and 40.0% from three point range making two three pointers a game. Many thought Fernandez would improve on those numbers instead that was his best year. In the playoffs Fernandez was terrible in the six game first round series loss to the Houston Rockets averaging just 7.5 points on 42.9% shooting from the field and 42.1% from three pointers making just 1.3 three's a game. His second season for the Blazers saw his numbers decrease as he averaged 8.1 points per game on 37.8% shooting from the field and 36.8% from three pointers making 1.6 three's a game. In the playoffs Fernandez once again was a no show averaging 6.8 points per game while shooting 44.4% from the field and 47.8% making 1.8 three's a game in the six game series defeat to the Suns. Then this past year saw Fernandez play like he did his sophomore year instead of like his rookie year. Fernandez this past season averaged just 8.6 points per game while shooting 37.0% from the field and 32.1% from three's making 1.5 a game. What isn't showing up is Fernandez lack of defense as well. In the playoffs once again Fernandez no showed as the Blazers once again lost in six games for the third straight year in the first round. Fernandez averaged just 2.8 points per game shooting 22.2% from the field and 30.0% from three pointers in the playoff loss to the team he was traded to the Dallas Mavericks. Now Fernandez hopes to have a fresh start in Dallas as he wasn't going to ever be successful for Portland. The Blazers got rid of two veterans added another while bringing in a high profile college player.

The Blazers with the 21st pick took the four year point guard from Duke Nolan Smith. Smith is 6'2" point guard who in his career at Duke averaged 13.4 points per game and 2.8 assists while shooting 44.8% from the field. He also made 1.1 three pointers a game on 36.9% shooting from the outside. As a junior Smith was a big reason why the Blue Devils won the National Championship as he averaged 17.4 points per game and 3.0 assists per game on 44.1% shooting from the field. He made 1.6 three pointers a game on 39.2% shooting from three point range. His senior season Smith was a big reason the Blue Devils were the #1 seed as he averaged 20.6 points per game and 5.1 assists on 45.8% shooting from the field. He also made 1.5 three pointers a game on 35.0% shooting from three pointers. Smith will most likely back up Felton as the Blazers got younger at the point guard position. The Blazers also have two point guards who can shoot three pointers and make them so defenses can no longer pack in the paint.

In conclusion, this was a big day for the Blazers as they improved their team. Their offense will run better with quick point guards who can shoot from the outside which should open up the middle more for LaMarcus Aldridge. The moves made today won't win the Blazers a championship anytime soon but this might have been the moves they needed to advance past the first round for the first time since 2000(when Bill Clinton was still president). Now the Blazers can only hope Roy and Oden can be healthy with these young point guards. The Blazers can now stretch the floor and with a player like Felton his career appears heading up while Miller's appeared heading down. The Blazers traded away two main parts of their team showing their fan base they are trying to get out of the first round. The Blazers I think with today's moves will finally escape the first round. Having a point guard who can knock down outside shots is huge and the Blazers for the first time in a while will finally have that option.

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