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Game Thread #72: Bulls vs. Portland TrailBlazers

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I wish I've watched more Blazers basketball this season, they have a lot of interesting players that I admittedly know little about. Is Martell Webster any good? Can Jarrett Jack be a full-time point guard? Can I ever figure out the difference between Travis Outlaw and Qyntel Woods?

But also, they have a fine trio of rookies, two of which could've been taken by the Bulls. Technically they did take LaMarcus Aldridge, but as we know he was immediately traded for Tyrus Thomas and (apparently) Viktor Khryapa. I was a fan of Aldridge around the time of my '06 draft meltdown, and he's had some great games, especially after getting playing some playing time what was earlier distributed to Joel Przybilla and Jamaal Maggloire.

But claiming some sort of verdict of draft day in their first season is, uh, premature at best. And at worst just the fanbase of a losing team grasping at good-feelings straws. Besides, the prevailing wisdom at the time was to get the guy who had the best chance of eventually being a star, so it's way too early to evaluate based on those terms. Even as a rookie comparison it's not a pure translation between what a player would do on a playoff team when currently on a developing team, and vice versa. But would taking Aldridge or Roy have helped the Bulls trading portfolio last month to the point where they could've gotten Pau Gasol? Jeez, who the hell knows? Maybe?

(Not to downplay it to the point where I'm not hoping Tyrus busts out some shotblocking and maybe a teabagging-punctuated dunk or three.)

Another guy to watch is Zach Randolph, who based on his off-court hijinks not even Sam Smith can advocate the Bulls should trade for anymore. Like Al Jefferson before him (although make no mistake, Jefferson is like the homeless man's Randolph) Randolph is undersized to the point where Ben Wallace should be able to contain him one-on-one, which I think will be key.

Beyond that it's a home game against a young and competitive (I think they're better than the doormats of the East, anyway) team. Hopefully the subplot of which rookie is better can be talked about plenty, implying an early and large Bulls lead during the actual game.

(Go check out Blazers Edge for an enemy-based preview. He always does far better game previews than I do)