Another long year in Rip City?
Let’s face facts, nobody wants to hear that their team is going to struggle. Nobody wants to come to terms that their team is better off not making the playoffs, even though it means a better chance to improve in the long term.
This year, the Portland Trail Blazers are in the first stage of their rebuilding, after years of unfilled promise.
Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) the Blazers will struggle this year and below are five reasons why they will not participate in the chase for the Larry O’Brien trophy.
*Pessimistic fans, have no fear, we will explore the reasons why this season could be a success for the Blazers in a future piece*
1. Lack Of Depth
Myers Leonard will lean on Marcus (err nope, he is gone to NYC), uhm, Ghostface Pr (guess again, he is a Buck for the third time in his career)…journyman Dan Gadzuric for mentoring.
Not really the ideal tutor for your pivot of the future.
The backcourt and wing spots are pretty much a one man act, as Nic Batum, Wesley Matthews and Damien Lillard all hold the spots to lose.
The problem is, there really isn’t anyone to lose them too. Luke Babbitt and Nolan Smithare decent backup role players, but aren’t talented enough to push for a starting spot.
2. Lack of Playoff Experience
When you look at the Blazers lineup, at least on a significant level, it looks to be paper thin (see above), especially when you take into consideration playoff experience.
Out of the 2012/13 Blazers roster, there is only 33 games of playoff experience and those belong to the four key members of the team, with Aldridge and Batum leading the way with 18 games apiece.
With rookies Lillard and Leonard looked to as players who are expected to be the future of the team, expectations that these two can handle the pressures of locking down a playoff spot are almost unfair.
3. Unstable Off Court
After axing Nate McMillan and replacing him with interim coach Kaleb Canales , there were many questions as to what the Blazers front office was thinking and who was running the show.
While Canales didn’t light the league on fire, he did have the approval of many of the Blazers players, especially L.A..
Unfortunately for Canales, the interim label was pretty much true to its title, as the team brought in Terry Stotts in August.
Just prior to the Stotts hiring, the higher powers brought in their fourth General Manager in five years, Neil Olshey after a season of Chris Buchanan, the director of scouting, holding down the interim GM spot.
While there may be a little wiggle room at the start of the season for error, Blazers fans and ownership had high expectations for the previous era of Portland basketball that went unmet, so a return to the playoffs needs to happen soon, or there may be pink slips handed out quickly!
4. Health Concerns to Key Players
Portland is a desirable place to live for many athletes.
Not only is it a beautiful city but there are no taxes, Nike headquarters are located there and the Rose Garden faithful are fully committed to their hoops.
The major downside for any player is the health curse that plagues this team (heck even the coaching staff has been injured in previous years).
The DNP-INJ doesn’t just affect the superstars as previous coach Nate McMillan was sidelined with a ruptured Achilles tendon and 2010 draft pick Elliot Williams has played only 24 games in two years after being sidelined with knee and shoulder injuries.
No matter how enticing the city life might be, big name impact free agents may be staying away from the Northwest MASH unit.
5. Improved Western Conference
Let’s face it, the top teams in the West either remained the same or got a heck of a lot better this summer.
Both LA teams altered their rosters to varying degrees. OKC and San Antonio remain the same, young & dangerous, cagey & crafty.
The Nuggets added a wingman desperately looking to match the successes of his Team USA peers.
The ever improving Memphis Grizzlies cannot be counted out and Minnesota, who missed out on the playoffs last year is far to talented to miss out this season.
With seven spots potentially accounted for, both Dallas and Sacramento have rosters that will battle for the final spot in the Western Conference top eight (my nod goes to the Mavericks).
From a rebuilding standpoint, Portland finds themselves clumped with Phoenix and the Golden State Warriors, teams on the outside, looking in.