The Trail Blazers came into this game looking for a solid win against the Melo-less AND Chandler-less Knicks, though the worth of the win itself and the lack of the Knicks’ starts took a backseat as Raymond Felton made his return to the Rose Garden. As you’ve maybe heard, Felton is widely loathed around these parts for poor play and a laziness many fans felt caused the disappointment of last season. Felton’s jokes about weight gain easily outnumbered the amount of solid games Felton had while wearing a Trail Blazer uniform; it was a year of torture for Blazer fans, though it became fruitful and lead to the Gerald Wallace Fire Sale, which in turn lead to Damian Lillard dawning a Portland uniform.
Felton’s behavior is much debated among league observers. Some basketball minds argue that it wasn’t Ray’s responsibility to be in shape while the owners locked the team out, while others consider that obviously unprofessional behavior. Portland’s fanbase certainly takes the latter position, and it’s understandable. When a guy seemd to do your organization wrong, it will always leave fans with a sour taste in their mouth, no matter how much you can rationalize the behavior.
However, it can be argued a lot of good for the organization came from Felton’s dark days. In a way, it feels almost like a karmic result for the Trail Blazer’s team. Gerald Wallace’s expiring contract became the 6th overall pick, which resulted in Lillard. Speaking of Lillard, the rookie shined in this game, which is becoming a trend. Lillard’s streak of 20 point games while shooting around 50% ended against Memphis, but he picked it back up with 26 points on 11-18 shooting tonight. More importantly, in my eyes, Lillard showed a knack for making plays for his teammates, posting 10 assists and 1 turnover.
Most importantly, Damian destroyed his opposing point guard:Felton. This allowed fans to witness the present good that may have came from a terrible situation. Felton, for better or for worse, indirectly led to Lillard, who is part of the foundation for a strong future. The Trail Blazers have the upcoming rookie of the year and a main core of LaMarcus Aldridge, Lillard,Wes Matthews, and Nic Batum. I feel much more confident in this squad than what the Blazers would be if they still had Felton, Wallace and even Jamal Crawford. Last thing to note—this was awesome:
That was incredibly crafty by the young point, and he’s helping fans get more excited about the future than hung up on the past.