Monday, August 15, 2011

Westbrook/Paul Swap Good for Blazers?

By Jonathan Ryan Davis

It was rumored last week by multiple media outlets that the Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Hornets are considering swapping their All-Star point guards.  This would be a monumental trade that could reshape the Western Conference.  While these rumors are merely conjecture and likely have no merit, it is still interesting to evaluate how this trade, if it occurs, would affect the Portland Trail Blazers.

Adding Chris Paul to the Thunder would give the Thunder one of the top point guards in the NBA—a true point guard who thinks pass first, yet he can take control of the game with precise drives to the basket and a consistent outside jumper.  Paul can play defense and has the speed to stay with any guard in the league.  He is in his prime, and the only knock on Paul is his injury history.

Paul would give the Thunder a veteran stability that could help the Thunder be a dangerous contender.  Russell Westbrook, the Thunder’s current point guard, is a dynamic player who has as much talent as any young guard in the league.  What he lacks is the consistency that Paul brings every night.

Chris Paul playing for the Thunder would likely give the Thunder a significant edge in the former Northwest rivalry.  The combination or Durant, Paul, and Perkins, with a plethora of talented role players, would be a unit that would battle every night.  To match this Thunder team, the Blazers would need Oden and Roy to be healthy and for Felton to develop into the floor general we saw he could be in New York.

Russell Westbrook moving to New Orleans would not make the Hornets a threatening team now, but potentially in the future.  Monty Williams is a great coach.  He is the type of coach who could mold Westbrook into an elite point guard, a player the Hornets could built their team around in the way they did with Paul.

For the time being, Westbrook’s move to New Orleans would likely knock the Hornets out of the playoff race for the next year.  However, the following year, with a chance to design the offense around Westbrook’s strengths, the Hornets could be competitive for years to come.

In the end, the Blazers should hope this trade doesn’t happen.  I know most Blazers fans would be spiteful if the Thunder and Hornets pulled the trigger on this deal because Portlanders have been pining for Paul for the past two years.

One thing is certain, if this trade happens, it would make the West even more interesting.

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