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NBA Off-Season Preview: Portland Trailblazers

NBA Off-Season Preview: Portland TrailblazersRecord (44-38)There’s an odd consequence to a team ov


 

NBA Off-Season Preview: Portland Trailblazers

Record (44-38) There’s an odd consequence to a team overachieving in the regular season. Almost always are they exposed in the playoffs as the echoes from naysayers shouting, “frauds! We knew you weren’t built for the playoffs” fill their locker room. Teams overachieve for a variety of reasons: easy scheduling, superb coaching, weak conferences, and sometimes, pure luck. This year’s Portland Trail Blazers squad defied several of the traits, though they themselves still fall under the overachieving category. Terry Stotts is a top 10 coach in this league and his work this past year with his Blazers team should be sufficient enough proof of that. The Blazers, however, definitely did not have the luxury of a weak conference or a weak schedule. If anything, they faced grave odds heading into the season after losing four of their five starters. Preseason rankings from a variety of sports sites were not kind to Portland either. Nobody had hope for them. Nobody expected anything of them. Nobody counted them in. Nobody except themselves and Stotts. It seems that’s all they needed. So where do the Blazers go from here? After having one of the best seasons in the league (considering their underdog story) and shaking up the playoffs with a win over the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round. They showed the league and, most importantly, soon-to-be free agents, that they are more than an overachieving team that puts up nice stats — they are truly a contending team and they are ready to win more games. Still, Stotts, for all his smarts, crafted some curious defensive rotations all season long. The results showed. The Blazers struggled on the defensive end, ranking 20th in the league in opponents points per game and 20th in defensive rating; a good amount of the defensive liability lies in their undersized backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum (but I’ll save that for another time). Portland currently has a solid foundation to build upon, with pieces who are sure to make free agents do double takes before making their decision. With Lillard, McCollum, Al-Farouq Aminu, Ed Davis, and Miles Plumlee (and possibly Allen Crabbe if the two sides can strike a deal with each other), fans should not be surprised to hear Portland on the list of team hosting some of the biggest free agents stars this off-season. The spot the Blazers could get the most creative at is the four posted up next to Miles “The Better Plum brother” Plumlee (ah, don’t be so hurt, Mason; there’s always a better athlete in the family. Hey, at least you got the looks). Miles Plumlee is one of the better big men passers in the league on top of being a solid defensive presence in the paint. Where he falls short is in his inability to stretch the floor; he’s really only a threat from inside the paint. If Portland can find a stretch four to compliment Plumlee then they’re in business. Stotts offense would flourish a big man like, say, Al Horford or Ryan Anderson. Dwight Howard and Hassan Whiteside are also possible fits for the Blazers; those two players, however, would complicate the Plumlee issue in that neither Howard nor Whiteside compliment Plumlee. In that case, Plumlee would move to the bench or the Blazers could use Plumlee, a promising bigman, and switch him for valuable assets that fit Stotts system. As for as guards, were Portland to lose Crabbe to free agency, a possible filler would be Terrence Ross currently of the Toronto Raptors. Ross, 25, is young with a very high ceiling. Every now and then he stuns NBA-goers with oh’s and ah’s as they marvel at his freakish athleticism. Ross hasn’t been able to unlock his full potential in Toronto — instead he’s been restricted to glimpses of what he could be while playing behind DeMar DeRozan. But maybe Stotts could finally shift Ross into that second gear some NBA analyst believe he has withering away in him. Lastly, I’ll say this: yes, Kevin Durant would fit rather smoothly with this team where he would undoubtedly be the number 1 guy with Lillard and McCollum taking respectable two and three roles. I mean, can you just imagine how beautiful and smooth their offense would look with Durant. Wait, I hear footsteps. Is that — are those — angry OKC fans storming the web? I gotta run. Looks like that’s all for now, folks. Until next time…

NBA Off-Season Previews

Atlantic Division: Boston Celtics – Brooklyn NetsNew York KnicksPhiladelphia 76ers – Toronto Raptors Central Division: Chicago Bulls – Cleveland Cavaliers – Detroit PistonsIndiana PacersMilwaukee Bucks Southeast Division: Atlanta HawksCharlotte HornetsMiami HeatOrlando MagicWashington Wizards Southwest Division: Dallas MavericksHouston Rockets – Memphis Grizzlies – New Orleans PelicansSan Antonio Spurs Northwest Division: Denver NuggetsMinnesota TimberwolvesOklahoma City ThunderPortland Trail BlazersUtah Jazz Pacific Division: Golden State Warriors – Los Angeles ClippersLos Angeles LakersPhoenix Suns – Sacramento Kings


NBA Off-Season Preview: Portland Trailblazers

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