Go big or go home
Following a summer of anticipation, we now know (for the most part) what the roster will look like in Rip City, and with training camps currently underway, the team is preparing to come back strong following one of the more disappointing seasons in quite some time.
The Trail Blazers are a young, inexperienced group, but with so much potential waiting to be let loose, there could be some surprising results in 2013.
5. Nicolas Batum will Earn his Paycheck
Nicolas Batum will enter this season as the second-highest paid player on the team, and if he can step up his game, he’ll have a
chance at becoming the second scoring option behind LaMarcus Aldridge.One of the biggest reasons Nicolas Batum has a chance to improve is Terry Stotts. The new head coach will likely use Batum in a way he’s never been used before, and once the offense is in place, it’s up to the young forward to stay aggressive.
Whether Batum becomes a No. 2 option or not is up in the air at this point, but if he can improve defensively and stay consistent, he’ll
be well on his way to earning his contract.
4. This Team will be Exciting to Watch
If the Trail Blazers do nothing else this season, they’ll at least provide a more entertaining brand of basketball than they did after the trade deadline in 2012.
Following the deals that sent away shot-blocking machine Marcus Camby and incessant energy-maker Gerald Wallace, this team was one of the more uninteresting squads to watch in the entire NBA.
3. Meyers Leonard will become the Starting Center
The 7’1”, 245-pound rookie out of Illinois is one of the more athletic bigs from the 2012 draft class. His game extends beyond the free-throw line, and he can run the floor as well as anyone his size.
J.J. Hicksonhas proven throughout his time in Portland that he is full of energy and can produce alongside Aldridge, but if Leonard
can show he was worthy of the No. 11 pick, he’ll find a spot in the lineup before the year is done.
2. Damian Lillard Will Win the Rookie of the Year Award
Damian Lillard recently said in an interview (with yours truly) that he believes “Anthony Davis is the favorite (for the Rookie of the Year award), and rightfully so.” That being said, Lillard has a chance to show what he can do right away.
The former Weber State Wildcat was drafted to be a starter, and as a result, he’ll be running the offense from day one. His athleticism and knack for scoring the ball are right on par with today’s NBA point guard, and if he can get his teammates involved, he’ll be the perfect addition to an up-and-coming roster.
Davis should be considered the favorite, but when it’s all said and done, don’t be surprised if Lillard has the bigger impact on his team this season.
1. A 40-win Season
The Trail Blazers aren’t going to be a championship team in 2012—I think we can all agree on that. But if the youngsters come out and perform as their talents suggest they can, a 40-win season isn’t out of the question.
The Western Conference has gotten better this offseason from the bottom up, and many people have projected the Blazers to be last in the Northwest division. Teams such as the Minnesota Timberwolves, Golden State Warriors and Utah Jazz are all improved, but they’re also young, and nothing is going to come easy for any of them.
A 40-win season may or may not be enough to make the playoffs in a tough race out West, but with expectations being so low by so many this season, making a push toward the postseason would be a huge victory in the eyes of true Blazermaniacs.