2012 Training Camp has arrived
October is here, which for Trail Blazers fans means your favorite team is back in action as training camp has begun and the regular season is right around the corner.
The Blazers are coming off one of their most hyped offseasons in recent memory, and while the squad looks eerily similar to the one that took the court in 2012, a few significant changes have reshaped the team as they continue to rebuild toward the future.
Last season was one of the more disappointing years in franchise history, but with the youth movement in full effect, there are some things we should look for as the Trail Blazers get ready to go back to work.
5) Damian Lillard’s Incredible Motor
Damian Lillard’s grand plan won’t come to fruition in training camp, but fans should be given the opportunity to see just how hard of a worker he is as a player with something to prove.
Lillard has said time and time again that he wants to prove the doubters wrong. Those who question his level of competition coming from Weber State—and those who say he can’t make it as a facilitator—should see that he is one of the hardest workers any time he hits the court.
The point guard’s transition to the NBA will certainly have its speed bumps, but one thing even the cynics should be impressed with is how hard he works day in and day out to reach his goals.
4) Hustle, Hustle, Hustle
The Trail Blazers hired Terry Stotts this summer to be Rip City’s newest head coach, and as a result, the team is expected to run an up-tempo style.
The slow-down paces of Brandon Roy and Nate McMillan are long gone, and if the team hidden away in the Pacific Northwest has anything going for them at this point, it’s their youth and excitement.
The Blazers are going to be one of the youngest teams in the league in 2013, and with fresh legs all up and down the roster, there’s no reason for anybody to come into camp out of shape and unwilling to run.
3) An Injury-free Preseason
The Blazers have already lost one of the pieces to the puzzle (Elliot Williams) to a season-ending injury, and with the recent health problems that have plagued the organization, all the team can ask for is a healthy roster as they enter the regular season.
LaMarcus Aldridge is coming off of season-ending hip surgery, so keeping him healthy should be a top priority.
The center position is not just young, but unusually shallow as well. If one of the youngsters goes down before the season, it’s going to complicate matters tremendously when it comes to establishing a consistent rotation early in the new year.
2) Solid Center Play
Aside from staying healthy, the centers on the roster must step up their games if they’re going to earn their time on the court this season.
J.J. Hickson has been named the starting center heading into training camp, but Meyers Leonard and Joel Freeland are worthy of starting minutes if they prove themselves early on in their rookie seasons.
On both ends of the floor, the centers on this team must be willing to bang down low, and with so many young players on the roster, it’s anybody’s call as to who will get the nod.
1) A No. 2 Option
Aldridge did everything in his power to get the team to the playoffs last season, but without anyone to help alleviate the pressure, the team crumbled under the weight of a tough Western Conference.
The Blazers need a viable No. 2 option behind Aldridge this season, and the time to step up is now for those looking to become big-time players in 2013.