Each year is an adventure with the Portland Trail Blazers and being able to cover this team is always an adventure. It seems like there is always a new injury, transaction or controversy to talk about when it comes to this team. It has been a tumultuous offseason with a new coach and completely different roster than just a few months before.
All over the internet, media and fans are giving their predictions and previews to the basketball season. I thought I would put in my two cents and see if I am any more accurate in my predictions as anyone else out there.
The general consensus is the team will win somewhere in the 30-35 game range. That would put the team in the basement of the Western Conference. Looking at the prospective of a below-average season does not seem like a very enticing thing for many fans. But despite the bleak outlook, there are some very exciting things to keep your eye on to start the season.
- The Blazers offense under Terry Stotts. For the last few years, Nate McMillan received much criticism about the slow, monotonous offense that the Blazers ran under him. Stotts, on the other hand, seems to have brought a new life and excitement to the Blazers’ offense. He is a big proponent of passing the ball around until you find the open shot. In Dallas, Stotts transformed their offense and turned them into the world champions.
- Blazer rookies to immediately make an impact. There should be 5 rookies on the roster here in Portland. A lot of times, that is a bad thing. Inexperience in such a competitive league can be dangerous. But in this case, I think it will be extremely exciting. Damiam Lillard and Meyers Leonard were both lottery picks and will both see starting minutes this season. Joel Freeland and Victor Claver were both stashed in Europe after being drafted by the Blazers. They both were featured by their countries in the Olympics and will each bring something new to this team. And Will Barton was a second round draft pick that has the explosive potential to be an exciting guy to watch off the bench this season.
- Nicolas Batum. Batum has had an up and down career. At times, he has come off the bench and at times, he has started. His play has been as inconsistent as his playing time has been. After this summer and the contract that he received from the Blazers, it is clear that he is expected to be the teams’ number two behind LaMarcus Aldridge. With the expectations, new contract and solidified starting role, it will be fun to watch how Batum responds.
With all this said, I believe the Blazers could be in the 36-41 win range. Best case scenario, they finish with a .500 record and barely miss the playoffs. This team is too young to be a competitive playoff team in the tough Western Conference but I do think they can surprise some people and win some games. I will be counted among those sitting in the Rose Garden watching this young, exciting team.