Friday, August 9, 2013

Outlook for the 2013-14 Portland TrailBlazers

The 2012-13 Portland TrailBlazers were an average team that was incomplete and that's just about all you can say about them. From the core the Blazers already have, Liliard, Batum and Aldridge, the Blazers already have a bright future. Liliard and Aldridge are forming a formidable duo, after a stellar rookie season by Damian and another great year by LaMarcus, and have a chance to become like Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer if they put in enough work.

Batum is also coming into his self lately with a great all-around year with averages of 14.3 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 4.9 APG, 1.2 SPG and 1.1 BPG.

They had a good enough starting five, which also consisted of Wesley Mathews and J.J. Hickson, to make the playoffs but their bench - the biggest names being Meyers Leonard, Eric Maynor and Nolan Smith; their big is pretty small - was atrocious and was their biggest downfall ensuite to them finishing 11th in the Western Conference with a record of 33-49. To make it even worse for this up and coming season, they lost J.J. Hickson, who finally established himself as a starting C in the NBA

and Eric Mayor, who formed a great backcourt combination with Damian Liliard, with Liliard played off-guard. With Hickson gone, the Blazers traded for the underrated Robin Lopez.

Now I know what y'all think, "Robin Lopez? He's a joke". I have to completely disagree with you on that. In the 2012-13 season, the 7-footer averaged 11.3 PPG, 5.6 RPG and 1.6 BPG in 26 minutes of action per game on 53.4% from the field and 77.8% from the line, which is amazing for a C. Compare those to Hickson's numbers, 12.7 PPG, 10.3 RPG and 0.6 BPG in 29 MPG on 56.2% from the field and 67.9% from the charity stripe, and you reduce the amount a little bit of rebounding for a better inside presence who will get you close to the same amount of points. If you put those numbers into per 36 minute numbers, Lopez's stats are: 15.7 PPG, 7.8 RPG and 2.2 BPG. Hickson's numbers are 15.8 PPG, 12.8 RPG and 0.8 BPG. Now if you ask me, with LaMarcus Aldridge averaging 9.1 RPG, I wouldn't be worrying so much about the extra rebounds if you have a C averaging 2+ blocks per game. It goes like this: Lopez and Hickson are equal scorers, J.J. is a better rebounder, Robin is a better defender and better free throw shooter. The Portland TrailBlazers made up for the loss of J.J. Hickson with Robin Lopez and aren't losing much, if not gaining something better. Other than Lopez, they also traded for Thomas Robinson from Houston, in the middle of the season. For Eric Maynor, the Blazers drafted C.J. McCollum 10th overall to be their 6th man and possible starting SG if he dethrones Mathews for the job.

McCollum has a legit chance of winning ROY, even coming off the bench because he can score at will and is being given the opportunity to, with the situation he landed in. Along with McCollum, Mo Williams was also added

boosting the TrailBlazers chances of making the playoffs. They will be the team's 1-2 punch off the bench, solidifying it among the ranks of the NBA. The rest of the 2013-14 Portland TrailBlazers consists of Dorell Wright, the swingman who once led the NBA in 3-point field goals made in the 2010-11 season, Eliot Williams, who is coming off an Achilles injury that sidelined him for the whole 2012-13 season, Luke Babbit, the sharpshooting SF who can't do much, other than shooting, Earl Watson, who adds veteran leadership and Terrell Harris, who only adds to their depth. Also rookies Allen Crabbe and Marko Todorovic will add whatever they can to the table. Rounding out the roster are returning players, Will Barton, Joel Freeland, Victor Claver and Sasha Pavlovic. Of course, the TrailBlazers are going to be faced with tough decision on which 4 to cut because you can only have 15 players on an NBA roster at once. Whoever they decide on keeping, the 2013-14 Portland TrailBlazers are looking like an above-average team with their starting line-up intact from the previous season and a revamped bench, and might even make the playoffs as the 7th or 8th seed with the already tough Western Conference. The TrailBlazers just might and surprise us all.

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