Here is my assessment of the Blazers at the mid-way point of the season. Keep in mind that this is subjective and mid-season grades are really relative to my expectations at the start of the season. Here you go:
The MVPNBR award (most valuable player not named Brandon Roy) goes to Martell Webster. He lead the league in 3's this month and has really stepped up his game this year.
Roy: A- He is carrying this team and not letting down any expectations for a two time all-star. It would be a solid A if not for the injury concerns.
Aldridge: C. He's not stepping it up. Besides aches & pains, is he having big contract let down?
Miller: B- It would be a C- if not for the month of January.
Webster: A- Rough start to the season, but for how long he was out he has adjusted nicely. Can't wait to see what he can do in the coming years if his play can stay consistent.
Bayless: C+ He's just too inconsistent. I get nervous every time he touches the ball. He's shown flashes of brilliance (starting in place of Roy), but I'm not convinced he isn't just reckless with some luck. He has yet to have a stand out game against a solid defensive opponent (Except San Antonio who was having an off night.
Blake: C- He's just not been in this season yet. I'd like his flaming bag pass numbers go down and his shooting percentage to stay up.
Howard: A. This guy has stepped up big time. He could have been taking it easy coasting through these twilight years at the end. Instead he's working his tale off and coming in clutch. Did anyone predict Portland fans would be buying Juwan Howard jerseys at the beginning of the year?
Cunningham: C. Portland brass had high hopes for him coming in. He's handled the surprise of playing time well, but it's too soon to tell what he'll become. He's very athletic and it would be great if he could play a little more physical.
Pendergraph: A- He has amazed everyone with the role he's taken on this team (you'll find him in the middle of the pre-game circle getting everyone worked into a frenzy). He plays with such intensity and is carrying Joel's spirit of toughness.
Fernandez: C. Didn't get into a rhythm before he got injured and will need some time before getting back into the full swing.
The rest of the injured guys & Patty don't get grades since they're out of the picture all together right now. One comment on Joel & Greg though; it's just bad luck. The Blazers have to plan their future around LA & Roy. The lesson of this season is that anything they get from Oden is gravy and will help tremendously, but he just can't be relied on.
McMillan: A. Solid grade for handling a freakish year and keeping this group together. Also, extra credit for getting onto the court and sacrificing his Achilles for the sake of the team.
Monty Williams: A+ He stepped up huge on the east coast trip without Nate and got the team to stop navel gazing. The job offers are going to start coming in for him to get a top dog spot with another team any day now. This is a healthy sign for the Blazers. Good coaches reproduce good coaches (think Bill Parcells).