COMMENTARY | With C.J. McCollum seemingly coming back in a reasonable amount of time after suffering a broken foot, the Portland Trail Blazers' pool of guards and small forwards seem more than adequate.
How about their frontcourt? LaMarcus Aldridge has played spectacular so far, but many naysayers are agreeing that in order for the Trail Blazers to keep up their run and to make a deep push by the talent-laden Western Conference teams, they would need a "true" big man.
Omer Asik's name has been circulating the trade rumors, and he seems like an accommodating fit to the Trail Blazers. However, according to Marc Stein at ESPN.com, the Blazers are no longer pursuing the disgruntled backup in Houston. I guess Robin Lopez's impactful play and presence has been more beneficial than we've been led on to believe.
How about Kosta Koufos instead?
In Marc Gasol's absence, Koufos has been putting up impressive numbers -- eight points a game this year, along with seven rebounds, over one block, and an assist.
Think about it. This 7-footer would be a perfect complement to the Trail Blazers. Koufos and Lopez would be interchangeable pieces at the center position, seeing that both are capable bigs that stand as a presence in the post. Neither of them needs the ball to score, and both are skilled enough to finish around the basket while snatching rebounds.
Koufos, and Lopez for that matter, can guard the opposing team's most lethal post weapon, providing Aldridge some rest on the defensive end so he can in turn produce further on the offensive end. Koufos would also be an upgrade to Meyers Leonard and along with Thomas Robinson, this frontcourt would be deep and skilled.
And most important of all, Koufos would be an added defensive presence. He is 22nd in the league at 1.3 blocks per game and having a 7-footer anchoring your D never hurts.
Still not convinced that Koufos could be a beneficial pickup for the Trail Blazers? See his game against Phoenix on Tuesday, 12/3 -- Koufos dropped 14 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, and added two assists, two blocks and a steal, all while shooting over 58% from the field.
Maybe take a look at his 10-point, 16-rebound game (with two blocks, an assist and a steal, mind you) against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday, 12/7. Even check out his 17-point, nine-rebound game with two steals against the Los Angeles Clippers on 12/5.
The point is that Koufos could be a good trade for the Blazers -- that is if they're willing to give up a little.
If the Blazers were comfortable with letting go of Joel Freeland, whose salary is roughly comparable to that of Koufos, plus say Will Barton (who is underachieving mightily as compared to last year), they could bring in this underrated big man.
This all seems hypothetically nice, and perhaps doable, in spite of the fact that the Memphis Grizzlies may be unwilling to give up their only competent big, as Gasol still hasn't returned. The Blazers would really need to sell this trade and hope that Memphis' decision could help bolster their already-deep roster even further.
Taylor Barfield is currently a college freshman at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. He covers the NBA (specifically the Portland Trail Blazers) primarily via blogging and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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