2012-13 Result: 33-49, 11th in Western Conference, missed the playoffs
Key Additions: C. J. McCollum, Robin Lopez, Earl Watson, Dorrell Wright, Mo Williams
Portland Trail Blazers
Key Departures: Eric Maynor, J. J. Hickson, Elliot Williams, Sasha Pavlovic
The Blazers are a team that are always on the playoff bubble. They are talented in all positions, including the top NBA rookie of 2012-13, Damian Lillard, All-Star center LaMarcus Aldridge and forward Nicolas Batum who is fresh from a Eurobasket championship appearance with France. They also have fresh acquisitions coming in, including first-round pick C. J. McCollum, Dorrell Wright, Robin Lopez and Mo Williams.
The recent additions of Lopez and Williams add depth to the formerly-shallow Blazers roster. Lopez is a legitimate center who well let Aldridge slide down to power forward for some stretches, allowing them to go big. Williams is a versatile scorer who can light it up from anywhere. Wright is a player in search of another shot at a playoff spot after averaging a career-high 16.4 points at Golden State in 2010-11.
It is now just a matter of getting the team to play together. Unfortunately, Portland has long had a history of injuries, including Sam Bowie and Greg Oden, who both turned out to be busts. The deadweight Oden, thankfully, is now out of the team's hands after signing with the Miami Heat. Aldridge, who has played sporadically in the preseason, is not yet 100 per cent, while Batum suffered a concussion during practice and has missed all of the Blazers' preseason games. McCollum, the explosive scorer out of Lehigh, was drafted despite a broken foot he suffered in January and is listed as day-to-day.
To be fair to the Blazers, Lillard has been playing like the Rookie of the Year that he is, scoring 19 against Phoenix. In the absence of Aldridge and Batum, Lillard has been given the license to shoot.
Season Prediction: The preseason might look shaky, but the Blazers have put together a pretty scary lineup for 2013-14. They have scoring sock, legitimate post presence, and depth. Coupled with other teams clearing their lineups for the 2014 free agency season, anything less than a playoff appearance will be a disappointment for a team that is as stacked as the Blazers. Lillard will average between 17 to 20 points a game, and Batum will have a breakout year.
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