Summer Reading: Marcus Camby

This is part of an offseason series on various things of certain natures that each Blazer can work on during the summer to prepare for the 2010-2011 title push. This is strictly about on-court performance, so topics like trades and contracts are not discussed at length. Remember to click “Continue Reading” at the jump.

As Coup stated with his post on Andre Miller we have entered the veteran portion of the Summer Reading series. Or as I like to think of it, the super-veteran portion of the series. Unlike rookies, second year guys or players entering the ‘make-or-break’ time of their careers, it’s hard to suggest much to these guys. Marcus Camby is a former Defensive Player of the Year about to go into his 15th year in the NBA, what exactly can you suggest to him? I mean this was the first thing I wrote and I left it at this:

Dear Marcus Camby. Keep doing what you’re doing. Maybe show that young fella Greg Oden a thing or two. Enjoy your vacation. Love, the city of Portland.

I think I could stop there… but I won’t.

Marcus Camby may have only been in a Blazer uniform for the final 1/4 of the 09-10 season, but he put his stamp on the Blazers instantly. Case in point: the man got the Rose Garden to chant his name in only his 8th home game. He brought not only boatloads of experience but had a certain determination about him that spread throughout the whole team. The main thing he did was help the defense.

A lot of people want to compare his impact to that which Theo Ratliff  brought but I don’t see it. If you’re saying they were both centers who could block shots, were known for their defense and became popular Blazers in a short time then I’m with you. Anything past that is just uncivilized. Camby is not just a shot blocker, he helps everyone defensively. Whether it be blocking shots, talking, showing correctly on screens, managing to get back to defenders, guarding 4’s and 5’s as they face-up, he brought a lot to the table. Quick, name a post player you wouldn’t have confidence in Camby guarding? Short list right? Blazer fans owe a tip of the cap to Camby and we all should really evaluate that guy that made that trade.

In his 23 games the Blazers went 17-6, huge during a stretch run in the tough Western Conference. His ability to stretch defenses by hitting jumphots from 15 feet and out was big in freeing up space for LaMarcus Aldridge to work. His ability to tap rebounds to himself or out was also keen. He showed some versatility by being able to create offense for others in the high post. Camby’s ability to pass the ball was underrated. genuinally seems like he wants to be here which is always a plus. In his 15th year, there is no need for bullet-points. He’s earned his passing grade.

As for next year, Camby seems to be the ultimate insurance policy. His contract extension was a win-win for the Blazers. The return of Greg Oden should send Camby to the bench but he will still play an important role. Coming off the bench the Blazers get a steady presence but also will get consistency in the second unit, something that squad has been seemingly searching for since birth. And just like we all assume Jerryd Bayless will learn something from being around Andre Miller for a while, we all have to hope Camby shares some of his Jedi mind tricks with Mr. Oden.

Who do we recommend for Camby’s summer reading? Well a lot of things popped in my head initially. Maybe because of his diminshed role he could be like a Bill Walton-in-Boston type deal but that faded away. The more obvious choices would be a  defensive masterminds Bill Russell. Coup suggested maybe Manute Bol because of his shot blocking ability and overall awesomeness..and because he pictured them both shooting those long jumpers. However we are going to settle with Dikembe Mutombo. Why? For one, longevity. Mutombo was able to contribute in a big way for a contender until his body betrayed him. Also, they share an ability to block shots like none other. And it gave me an excuse to look up Dikembe Mutombo vidoes on YouTube all day.

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