Portland Trail Blazers Season Preview

4 10 2008

My NBA Northwest Division preview continues with the Portland Trail Blazers:

Portland TrailBlazers

2007-08 Standings 41 – 41, 10th Western Conference 

2008-09 Predicted Record 50 – 32, 2nd Northwest Division, 6th Western Conference 

Projected Starting Five:  Greg Oden, LaMarcus Aldridge, Martell Webster, Brandon Roy, Steve Blake

Sixth Man: Travis Outlaw

If Greg Oden can start healthy this year, the Blazers have a chance to be scary good, scary quick.

If Greg Oden can stay healthy this year, the Blazers have a chance to be scary good, scary quick.

For a brief while last season the Portland Trail Blazers led the Western Conference then injuries, inexperience and the schedule caught up with them and they ended up in 10th position, outside of the playoffs but with a 41 – 41 record. In the Eastern Conference that would have been good enough for 6th place. 

They overachieved last year. They were led by classy first year All Star Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge yet they were never meant to be this good this soon, especially after they lost the overall #1 pick in the draft Greg Oden before the season began. Oden is better now and he will have an opportunity to prove that he was worthy of his lofty billing. Even if he comes on slow the Trail Blazers have the other players around to cover while he grows accustomed to the speed and physicality of the NBA.

This year also marks the arrival of Rudy Fernandez, the classy Spaniard who has All Star level talent. During the Olympics he showed his class, refusing to back down from the Americans during the Gold Medal match. While it is too soon to tell how he will adjust to the NBA, I’m picking he could develop into the next Manu Ginobli. 

Banished are the days of the Jailblazers, instead this is a team of classy individuals and a whole batch of talented youngsters. So stacked are the Trail Blazers with young talent that it wouldn’t surprise to see a trade or two, especially to acquire a veteran point guard. They are also aided here with the soon to expire contract of Raef LaFrentz, packaged with one or two of the youngsters and they could get an All Star quality player (Devin Harris anyone?). They are led at the point by Steve Blake with the young Jerryd Bayless scheduled to eventually take on this role.

The Trail Blazers are a team on the rise and the powers of the Western Conference should be looking over their shoulders. If they continue to develop the Trail Blazers have the potential to win a title sooner rather than later. 

Coach:

Nate MacMillan is one of the top coaches in the NBA. He is a classy individual (the whole organisation is classy these days) and is a perfect fit for his young charges. If he can continue his stellar development job he should get his first title within a few seasons.

Bench:

The Trail Blazer bench is deep and talented. Most other teams in the NBA would be glad to have Travis Outlaw, Channing Frye and Rudy Fernandez coming off the pine. Eventually some of these players will start. Martell Webster is probably on limited time as a starter with Travis Outlaw ready to step up, or possibly Fernandez with Roy sliding over to the small forward slot.

Star Player:

This is Brandon Roy’s team though within a few years we’ll most probably know it as Greg Odens. For now though Roy is the leader and the star. He reminds me a touch of Penny Hardaway and Grant Hill with those same silky smooth skills that those two had. Let’s hope he avoids the injury fate of those two players.

Team MVP:

Brandon Roy is the do anything man for this team. He is capable of playing the point, shooting guard and small forward. However the true MVP of this team will be Greg Oden. If he develops into even half of what his potential indicates then the Trail Blazers will be scary good.

Final Prognosis:

I have no doubt that the Trail Blazers will win a title within the next 5 years. This year they will make the playoffs and it will aide in their development. I don’t expect them to advance past the first round but the other teams better win some titles now because the Trail Blazers are coming.

 

You can find an index of past Previews here.

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One response

4 10 2008
Travis Outlaw

The blazers are going to win a championship next year.

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