Recently a piece by SB Nation’s Tom Ziller about the Wolves ‘big three prompted a Blazers Edge writer named Sam to observe the Blazers own big three has the exact same number of big threes. Comparisons were drawn from the northwest to the midwest, positions were listed, roster spots were lined up, and conclusions were reached: a big three is the same, or roughly equivalent, as a big three in the same conference.
The folks at Blazers Edge have a tendency to crush on their own a little hard. You could say a bit irrationally so. Comments sections are littered with long screeds touting Damian Lillard’s future MVP chances and LaMarcus Aldridge as First Team All-Defense material. I don’t begrudge these people their enthusiasm, but (again, it’s all in the comments section) the idea that Minneapolis is just a bigger, less-weird Portland is a little funny. Not as funny as handicapping the odds of the Wolves relocating to Seattle to give the Blazers the more natural rivalry they crave, but “ha ha” funny, it is.
The monsoon of 3s Portland had for Minnesota last season gives me so little patience in comparing the two. Inside-in, outside-out offenses? I can’t place a Batum-Pekovic comparison in my mental grid and call one greater than the other — they play completely different positions and fill completely different roles for their teams.
I can say the addition of Kevin Martin and a healthy Chase Budinger make the Wolves a more interesting offensive team and the addition of Robin Lopez isn’t something that will deter Pek from collecting skulls.
Like Minnesota, Portland has never been a destination for marquee free agents. Therefore, also like Minny, the commonly referred to building blocks of the Blazers’ roster (LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard, and Nicolas Batum) are players that have spent their entire careers within the organization.
The comparisons between the big three for both teams are interesting. For starters, both Lillard and Rubio are young point guards on reasonably priced rookie salaries. Love and Aldridge are on larger deals, in their prime and both faces of their respective franchises. Finally Pekovic and Batum, though playing different positions, each inked large contracts in restricted free agency after showing tremendous growth over a short period of time.
Aside from the big three, roster composition is similar too. Minnesota’s loss of Kirilenko could arguably be compared with Portland’s loss of J.J. Hickson, a player that was an integral part to the starting five’s success last season. Both teams added scoring guards to their backcourt, as Minnesota’s signing of Martin could be matched with Mo Williams.
Ziller’s piece doesn’t necessarily offer whether Minnesota has enough to make the final push toward the postseason. It seemed more that if things fall correctly, you at least can’t count them out.
So asking whether Minnesota is good enough looks awfully similar to asking whether Portland is. And with the teams on such similar paths, you have to think their successes (or failures) will be comparable too.