Is Marcus Camby Enough for the Blazers?
Sorry; that's not the question you are likely concerned with. Camby? Does he fill the holes Portland finds itself with? Well, on the surface, yes. Season-ending injuries to Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla -- devastating, without doubt -- leave a gaping hole at the center position in Portland. The effect: Juwan Howard, age 37, has 23 starts this season. Gulp, double gulp.
Howard has actually been better than you'd imagine, though considering you probably imagined him playing at the level of, say, peak Todd Fuller, that's not really high praise. The Blazers are worse than opponents in the aggregate in minutes in which Howard plays; with either Oden or Przybilla or both on the court, the Blazers handily outscored opponents. But Oden nor Przybilla are walking through that door, and, again, Howard hasn't been walking doom.
Camby is far from walking doom, unless you're an opponent, in which case you'd rather not see Camby line up across you, for he often bespells doom for you. The Clippers haven't been better than their opponents in Camby's minutes this season, but they've been far less worse with Camby playing than with Camby sitting. Ergo, you'd think Camby would be better than Howard (unless you believe the Clippers, who suck generally, would be a .500 team with Howard, that's Juwan Howard, not Dwight or even Ryan or Tim).
Beneath that epidermal analysis, there's one measurable thing Camby does which Howard simply struggles at: rebound. This season, Howard has collected less than 14 percent of all available rebounds. Camby has collected more than 22 percent of all available rebounds as a Clipper. He, in fact, leads the league in total rebound rate and defensive rebound rate (a masterful 33 percent). His career total rebound rate of 18.6 percent is ninth all-time. His career defensive rebound rate of 27.1 percent is fifth all-time (behind Bill Walton, Swen Nater, Dennis Rodman and Dwight Not Juwan Howard).
Now Portland hasn't exactly suffered mightily on the boards all season -- Oden and Przybilla were dominant, and LaMarcus Aldridge is a very good offensive rebounder. But this team is gunning for a strong playoff showing, and against efficient teams like Utah and Dallas, or against stout defensive outfits like the Lakers or Nuggets, Camby's elite rebounding prowess will be vital, absolutely vital. Reviews on Camby's defense have always been disputed, but "not worse than Juwan Howard or Jeff Pendergraph" seems fair. The cost -- both in the assets trade to L.A. and in Camby's future salary ($0 next year) -- was small. The benefit could very well be fantastic.