NBA Roundtable

Outlaw Injured

In General NBA on November 16, 2009 at 7:10 am

The Oregonian reports

Trail Blazers forward Travis Outlaw has a stress fracture in the fifth metatarsal in his left foot, suffered in the first quarter of the Blazers game at Charlotte.

Outlaw, who played only 50 seconds, suffered the injury 20 seconds after he checked into the game. Television replays show that Outlaw apparently suffered the injury when he tried to close the distance between himself and Charlotte forward Gerald Wallace. When Wallace started to drive, Outlaw put on the brakes, and the force of the stop caused the injury. Wallace drove past Outlaw for a layin.

X-Rays revealed a stress fracture of the fifth metatarsal – the small bone on top of the foot near the small toe. It is the same injury, to the same foot, that teammate Martell Webster endured last season.

Webster suffered his initial fracture in October and didn’t return until December. In Webster’s first game back he broke the same bone in the same place and missed the rest of the season.

Figuring Outlaw has the same timeline of Webster’s initial injury – six-to-eight weeks – he figures to return around mid-January, a span of around 29 games.

Another article on Outlaw with some quotes from the man himself — link.

I watched a lot of that Bobcats-Blazers game and Portland looked shorthanded without Outlaw to call upon. They had no quality in their backup four and they weren’t able to match up with the Bobcats’ small ball lineups. Charlotte played Boris Diaw at center with Gerald Wallace or Vladamir Radmanovic at power forward for good chunks of that night.

Without Outlaw, and without Batum, the Blazers have no big small forwards who can play the four in a quicker unit. Provide more perimeter play either offensively or defensively while still giving Portland some legit size and decent rebounding.

Instead, Portland had to use Martell Webster as a power forward. Martell is a fairly average rebounder for a two guard, heck, rebounding becomes an issue for Webster when he plays the three spot nevermind the power forward position. Portland suddenly looked a lot smaller and unable to compete with a burly combo-forward like Gerald Wallace. Webster is a more valuable player in big lineups than a small ball one like that.

The other option Portland used was Juwan Howard. Frankly, I don’t think Howard is an NBA caliber player anymore nevermind a rotation worthy one. He is a defensive liability, a rebounding liability, and provides minimal offensive contributions. Great locker room presence? Sure. Want to keep him around for that? Fair enough, good decision. Play him? Ehh … rather not.

Are these options Portland are going to use for the next 30 games? A small ball lineup where Webster plays the four? Alongside a two point guard backcourt or another non-rebounding wing in Rudy Fernandez? Or will they play a decrepit Juwan Howard? A traditional power forward who doesn’t allow their bench to provide a different style of play to their starters.

The Rookies

I’d like to see Nate McMillan bring the two rookie power forwards into the fold over the next few days and weeks.

  • Dante Cunningham can provide the small ball option that Portland has lost. He’s an athletic 6-9 power forward with a good midrange jump shot and is active defensively.
  • Jeff Pendergraph is a more traditional big man who can provide size, rebounding and energy in the paint.

I like both of these guys ahead of their counterpart options (Webster small ball, and/or, Howard traditional lineup). So I’m hoping Nate calls their number over the next few weeks.

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  1. Gotta play the rookies when the opportunity presents itself – otherwise they should have just sold the picks!

  2. Dave,

    This looks like a nice opportunity for Dante Cunningham … a player who I liked a great deal prior to the 2009 NBA Draft. It will be interesting to see if he can partially fill the void losing Outlaw creates in their everyday line-up.

  3. Khandor,

    Dante Cunningham is the guy I’d most like to see here. Hopefully he’ll get the nod.

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