Subscribe to Trail Blazers Fan News

Marcus Camby Brings Versatility, Leadership To Trail Blazers

  1. Written by: caseyholdahl

    When you open a newspaper or webpage looking for a Trail Blazers game story, there’s a very good chance there will be some reference to a turning point; a momentum-crushing fast break dunk, a crucial defensive stop, a sixth and disqualifying foul.

    Just as singular games have turning points, so too do seasons. Two years ago, there was Travis Outlaw’s game-winner in Memphis that lifted the Trail Blazers to their first road win and sparked a memorable 13-game winning streak.  Last season, Brandon Roy’s 30-foot buzzer-beater against Houston paved the way for 13-3 start, setting the table for a 54-win season.

    Maybe it’s still too early to definitively declare the turning point of the 2009-2010 season, but the acquisition of Marcus Camby has become the odds-on favorite.  The arrival of Camby from the Los Angeles Clippers on February 16 instantly changed the course of the Trail Blazers’ season.  A team treading water was transformed into one capable of making waves.

    The area in which Camby’s impact is most evident is on defense. The addition of one of the NBA’s premier shot blockers – someone who has lead the league in blocks three times, finished in the top-10 seven times and sits 15th all-time in the category – would help any team. But the addition of a shot-altering force like Camby to a Trail Blazers’ squad that was woefully undersized after losing Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla has been stark.

    “I thought we had a pressing need in the middle with Greg and Joel going down,” Trail Blazers General Manager Kevin Pritchard said. “You have to defend the rim in this league or else you have no chance; you just put too much pressure on your offense. We felt like we needed to bolster our defense, and (Camby) has been able to do that. We’re thrilled with what he’s doing.”

    That appreciation of the job Camby does in the paint isn’t reserved to the man who orchestrated the trade that brought the center to Portland in exchange for Travis Outlaw and Steve Blake.

    His teammates, after having to make due with playing without a true center for much of the season, have been steadfast in their praise of Camby’s ability to make their jobs on the defensive end that much easier.

    “(Camby) brings that shot blocker,” Brandon Roy said. “Defenses are scared to go into the paint because we’ve got a guy who clogs it up. I think we’re forcing a lot of teams to take shots from the perimeter because of him.”

    While the addition of Camby into Portland’s frontcourt is an adjustment of sorts for everyone, head coach Nate McMillan let his newest player know that, ‘when it comes to defense, we’ll adjust to you’.

    “(McMillan) just basically told me to be myself,” Camby said. “Be the same defensive player I’ve been when I won the (NBA defensive player of the year), when I was on first-team all-defense and all that stuff. Just come in and be myself. Block shots, control the middle, rebound the basketball. That’s what I really try to focus on as each game approaches.”

    Though Camby admits his focus is geared toward defense, he has also become a factor on the offensive end for the Trail Blazers.

    His arrival has coincided with an uptick in second chance points, a direct result of Camby’s effectiveness on the offensive glass. Additionally, the skills he brings as a distributor allow McMillan to throw varying looks at opposing defenses.

    “I just think with both (Camby) and Howard, they are pretty good passers,” McMillan said. “We’ve added mainly those guys initiating the offense, running the offense through them some. Spreading the floor as opposed to our wings and guards feeding the post or starting the offense, we’re running through Howard and Camby… It’s an option you can take advantage of as far as what they’re capable of doing.”

    Because Pritchard and his staff take great pride in knowing everything possible about a player before making a personnel decision, Camby’s proclivity for making the right pass in Portland’s system didn’t come as a complete shock, but it has been a pleasant surprise.

    “We’ve been so impressed with how he gets other players easy shots,” Pritchard said. “In our offense, when we’ve got a guy at the high post that can make a good decision, good passes, it’s really effective. He’s helped us offensively even more than I thought.”

    Camby, who is averaging nearly three assists per game this season, recognizes his ability to get his new teammates involved in the offense.

    “I’ve been playing the high post a lot throughout my career,” Camby said. “I’m able to offset playing with LaMarcus a little bit. He’s kind of versatile; he plays more inside than myself. I think coach has been bringing a lot of elbow sets for me to make plays, not just for (LaMarcus), but to swing the ball and play pick and roll out of the second swing.”

    While the blocked shots and the ability to operate in the high post have made Camby an immediate asset to the Trail Blazers, his 14 years of NBA experience are just as valuable. He is a veteran with the leadership and credibility to say what needs to be said.

    “Camby brings that commanding voice that people believe in.” Pritchard said. “With a young team that is growing, to be around a guy that’s a winner and has been on successful teams, they’re going to listen. They have no choice.”

    “Cam is a leader,” said Roy. “He was the same way when I watched him in Denver. I’d see him yelling at guys, encouraging guys. It was the same way when I’d see him in L.A. It doesn’t really matter what team he’s on; he’s going to teach and lead. He does a great job of that with us. He’s talking to guys, keeping us confident, telling us where to be on defense. That’s good to have, especially coming from your center, being so vocal.”

    Taking on a leadership role as a new guy can be tricky in the NBA, but when you’ve put in work as Camby has done, it’s not nearly as perilous, especially on a relatively young team like the Trail Blazers.

    “I think the guys really respect me, respect the work I’ve put in the last 14 years in this league. You can’t say that if you don’t have credibility.” Camby said. “Every team I’ve been on, I’ve been captain of that team. Here I understand that LA and B-Roy are the captains, but Juwan and I have a lot more experience and years in this league. I think they respect us enough to go out there and let us voice our opinions. I’m not here to step on anybody’s toes; I just want to win just like the next guy.”

    Win he has. The Trail Blazers are 8-3 in the first 11 games with Camby in the lineup. And while it’s too early to definitively say his arrival was the turning point in Portland’s season, this much is certain: the Trail Blazers are a better with him than without him.


  1. 179 posts are tagged with
  2. 69 posts are tagged with
  3. 220 posts are tagged with
  4. 87 posts are tagged with
  5. 77 posts are tagged with
  6. 125 posts are tagged with
  7. 64 posts are tagged with
  8. 86 posts are tagged with
  9. 58 posts are tagged with
  10. 421 posts are tagged with
  11. 48 posts are tagged with
  12. 135 posts are tagged with
  13. 94 posts are tagged with
  14. 287 posts are tagged with
  15. 49 posts are tagged with
  16. 66 posts are tagged with
  17. 72 posts are tagged with
  18. 101 posts are tagged with
  19. 189 posts are tagged with
  20. 169 posts are tagged with
The latest from
rrow0225 uploaded new photo / 88blazerfan88 updated their fan statement / MrCramer23 joined group Jones Soda / Ricky created new forum topic summer moves and upcoming draft / cm_flippin commented on Blazers quiz / NickPitherUK updated their scrapbook / Qualab and RipCityRevival are friends now / daddy updated their Starting 5 / MJB uploaded new video /