The Clippers have lost seven straight and have a league worst record of 1-11. They can't seem to catch a break, losing one game in double overtime, another in overtime, and a third in the final seconds. They opened the season with a murderous stretch of nine games against top opponents, and in the process lost two veteran starters so that they've faced their recent weaker competition with what surely must be the youngest starting lineup in the history of the NBA.
But be thankful you're not Blazers fans this morning, Clips Nation.
Of course, we know how it feels. Probably better than anyone other than an actual Blazers fan. We remember Danny Manning's ACL injury his rookie season. We lived through Blake Griffin's lost rookie year. When we found out that Blake Griffin was out for the season the day before opening night last year, that was a terrible feeling. To see the first overall pick, the player to whom you'd pinned so many hopes, lost for an extended period to injury, is devastating to a fan base. When Griffin was then pronounced out for the season, it was maybe even worse, because it felt like a betrayal. "What the heck? We've waited months for this guy to play, we thought he was getting better, and now he's out for the year?" It's completely deflating. (Just imagine how it felt to Blake Griffin.)
Now imagine you're a Portland Trailblazers fan. Greg Oden was the first overall pick in the 2007 draft, and by the way he wasn't a no brainer the way Griffin was. See, there was this guy named Kevin Durant in that draft - a situation that for Blazers fans conjures images of Sam Bowie and Michael Jordan. With Griffin, if injuries, FSM forfend, were to curtail his career, you would have the comfort of knowing that he was always the right pick, that it was just one of those things and that 29 other teams would have taken him - sort of like the Danny Manning situation. With Oden, you have the double whammy of losing the player AND knowing that Durant was the right choice all along.
And it's not only the Durant situation. It's the sheer volume of season-ending injuries. Portland fans have now experienced with Oden the same thing we felt with Griffin, not just once, not twice, but three times. It's almost unfathomable.
I can't even remember all of the things that have gone wrong for Oden. I can say this - both his rookie year and with this latest set back, the announcement that he was done for the season came more or less out of the blue. Oden didn't suffer an on court injury in either his first or third injuries (though he did last year, in his second injury - you need a scorecard to keep all of his injuries straight). Something just wasn't right. He's already had microfracture surgery to his right knee his rookie season, and he's been recovering from a fractured patella in his left knee suffered last season. Now, just when Blazers fans are starting to think about when he'll be returning to the court from that injury, we find out that he needs microfracture surgery on his left knee, a problem that is supposedly unrelated to his patella injury. How many things can go wrong in two knees?
At this point, Greg Oden's rookie contract in Portland is in the books. In four seasons, he will play 82 games total. That's exactly one fourth of the potential games in those four seasons. He was pretty good when he played - he had a PER of 23 through 21 games last season before getting injured. But what do you do with this guy if you're the Blazers? Coming off a SECOND microfracture surgery (a procedure that only a few years ago was a career death sentence), what do you pay the first overall pick in the draft, who just can't happen to stay healthy long enough to play basketball? A guy who will go at least 22 months between NBA games?
Coupled with the fact that Brandon Roy is dealing with knee issues of his own, and that clearly something is not right with the knee he had surgery on this summer, the Blazers are suddenly a mess. Sure they're 7-5 compared to the Clippers at 1-11; but the feeling is that the Blazers had a window to be a great team, a contending team. That window assumed that Greg Oden could be a good, if not great, NBA center. With Oden gone, and Roy hurting, the window may be closed.
The Clippers don't have a window yet. If they have one, it's some time in the future, in one or two or three seasons, but certainly not this season. So 1-11 is painful, but in a very real sense, things are working out great for the Clippers right now. Rookies Eric Bledsoe and Al-Farouq Aminu are getting significant playing time and exceeding all expectations. Blake Griffin is finally playing and appears to be more or less as advertised, a game changing talent who is only going to get better. Eric Gordon appears to be taking the proverbial next step. Sure, it would be more fun to be winning more games right now, but in terms of the future of the team, things are going great.
So for today at least, be thankful you're a Clippers fan and not a Blazers fan. And maybe stop by Blazersedge today and let them know that you know how they feel.