With Joel Przybilla Out, Blazers May Have to Look to the D-League, Again

It's a good thing this competition won't be based on looks. Also, they're ordered by last name. You're welcome.

Dave from BlazersEdge explains the situation:

The Portland Trail Blazers are seeking an energetic, motivated, team-oriented individual to fill the position of CENTER in their rising, competitive organization.  The successful candidate will be a minimum of 7-feet tall, have a discernable basketball skill, and be able to start on short notice.  Luggage carrying experience a plus.  Note:  Anyone with [bad] knees need not apply.  A pre-employment test will be administered to ensure compliance.

As you have read below the annoying and capricious injury fairy paid yet another visit to the Blazers [Tuesday], this time in the form of Joel Przybilla rupturing a knee tendon and dislocating the knee.  His absence is termed "indefinite", which is to "might be back soon" as Mary Jo Kaperski's "maybe" when you asked her to the prom was to "might actually go with you". 

No one wants to see this keep happening the Blazers, obviously, but this would seem to open a position for yet another D-League call-up, following Anthony Tolliver last week.  According to The Oregonian's Geoffrey C. Arnold, the Blazers will seek a second hardship exemption to allow Portland to sign a player to replace Przybilla.

Luckily, I have some players in mind - I've picked out eight possible candidates.  I know it seems that's probably too many, but, looking at everything, they all bring different strengths and weaknesses.  Just so we know what we're working with, the Blazers would seemingly be looking for a big, solid defender who can rebound and occasionally get a couple putback dunks.  They don't need an offensive powerhouse, they just need someone who can come in, know his role and play like a throwback big man.

Rod Benson (6'11", 235 - 15.1 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 2.2 spg, 2.1 bpg, 53% FG) - It's a movement.  He gets buckets, boards and blocks.  Benson's game is pretty polished at this point, actually.  His low post moves are a bit limited, typically ending in either a sweeping hook shot or a little face-up, then sweep to the bucket.  He's recently been working on a Tim Duncan jumper, but hasn't quite perfected it. Defensively, his length and athleticism means he rarely gets beat by his man, but still, he's not the best defender in the D-League - gambles a bit too often (though with the 2.2 steals/game, it sometimes pays off).  There aren't really many holes in his game, and he's all but quit blogging, so I'm not quite sure what's holding him back.

John Bryant (6'11", 300 - 14.4, 11.7, 1.7 bpg, 56% FG) - John Bryant is a big guy, if you couldn't tell from him being listed at 300 pounds.  The rookie was the WCC Player of the Year last season and is averaging a healthy D-League double-double, but I just can't see him translating to the NBA.  Most telling, perhaps, is that Erie coach John Treloar recently benched Bryant for an entire game.  If he's such a match-up problem that he's deemed unplayable in a D-League game, I don't think he's ready for the NBA.  On the plus side, he does remind me of Bryant Reeves.

Dwayne Jones (6'11", 250 - 17.8 ppg, 14.3 rpg, 2.2 bpg, 64% FG) - First, those numbers are outstanding, but I have to put them in persperctive - he's been matched-up with Kevin Pittsnogle (yes, THE Kevin Pittsnogle) in five of his 11 games.  Take those games out and he's still averaging a beastly 14.9 points and 11.7 rebounds, but they seem a bit more NBA-transferable. Offensively, he's not able to do much in the low block - a spin move when he's not double-teamed and a little reverse lay-up seems to be the only thing he's willing to look for when he gets fed the ball down low.  He is great in the pick-n-roll, but I think that's more due to his being extremely lengthy than anything he does offensively.  Rebounding is his game - I'm willing to say he scores more off of offensive putbacks than he does with his back to the basket.  Defensively, he's good in the post, but I don't think he's quick enough to make a living on it in the NBA - teams can kill him in the pick-n-roll or with any big that draws him just a little bit away from the basket.  For what it's worth, he was drafted by the Cavaliers out of St. Joseph's and has played in 80 career NBA games. 

Jared Reiner (6'11", 255 - 10.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.5 bpg (two games, zero starts)  - Reiner just recently joined the Fort Wayne Mad Ants which is why he has yet to put up huge stats thus far.  Reiner's career has been marred by injury, but after not playing since a stint with the Timberwolves this preseason, he should be well rested.  Like everyone else, he's not amazing in the low post, choosing a finesse game with hook shots and fade aways as opposed to powering it in.  He does have an occasionally-reliable 17-footer from the baseline, however, which is nice.  Defensively, he doesn't suck.  According to Basketball-Reference, he averages 7.7 fouls per 36 minutes however.  His basketball IQ is probably the best of this bunch.  What you see is what you get - not much room for growth. (This wasn't a ringing endorsement.  Sorry, Jared, I still like you.)

Shavlik Randolph (6'10", 236) - Since I'm assuming the majority of the readers of this post are Blazers fans, I'm not going to get into the nitty-gritty with Shav.  He, presumably, remembers the system and is going to bring the hustle.  He's available after being released by the Miami Heat last week.

Cedric Simmons (6'10", 223 - 16.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.4 bpg, 55% FG) - Simmons is a bit chubbier than you might remember (as the 15th pick of the 2006 draft, you may remember him).  Typically, I wouldn't be okay with this, but his offensive repertoire seems to have gotten larger as well, so we'll let it slide.  Defensively, he is what we always thought he'd be - a lengthy shot blocker with good timing, except now he's got a bit more bulk to help him out down low as well.  I haven't been able to tell if his foot speed is lacking due to the (my perceived) weight gain, but in the past, that was always something you could lean on from Simmons as well.  At just 23 years old and three years of NBA experience, he's a player worth picking up and developing - the intangibles are there.

Courtney Sims (6'11", 230 - No stats because he's at home eating Dorito's) - Reportedly, he was one of the other options that the Blazers worked out, though he ultimately lost out to Tolliver.  Sims was the D-League MVP last season, but doesn't seem to be doing himself a favor by sitting at home instead of playing in the D-League this season (I can't imagine what his agent, Charles Bonsignore Guy Zucker, is thinking).  I'm not sure what the reasons are behind it, but I know that he'd have been a better fit than Tolliver last time around, so I've got to assume that he showed up to the last tryout a bit out of shape/hurt/something.  He was supposed to play with the Hornets in Summer League, but pulled out at the last minute with shin splints.  Nonetheless, he may be a good prospect, but why pick up a guy that hasn't played in six months outside of a few preseason games? EDIT: Notice the agent I had in there was Charles Bonsignore.  Bonsignore's group has not represented Sims since the end of last season.  Blame Guy Zucker for the mess that is Courtney Sims since the end of last season.

Greg Stiemsma (6'11", 260 - 8.2 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 3.8 bpg, 46% FG)  - Let's just establish off the bat that he's an offensive liability.  Give him the ball with no one in between him and the basket and he'll try ripping the basket down, but aside from that, throw it in and close your eyes, because it could get ugly.  Defensively, it's the exact opposite.  Obviously, his 3.8 blocks per game show this, but watching him play, he just alters so many shots that it's ridiculous.  His reflexes are a bit slow, so quick post moves can beat him, but any sort of floater is going to get blocked.  Stiemsma gets called for a lot of fouls, but I'm okay with it just because he's contesting everything near him. He also had a decent Summer League with the Grizzlies, culminating in this showdown with Blake Griffin.  He's probably not quite NBA-ready until he develops a semblance of an offensive game, but he's definitely someone I'd look at if I was looking for a big right now. (Bonus: He's most likely to earn a nickname of Vanilla Gorilla)

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