You never know what you’re going to get in Rip City, and 2013 should prove to be no exception.
What If LaMarcus Aldridge Gets Hurt Again?
The injury bug has hit Portland as hard as any other team in the league in recent memory.
Year after year it seems the Blazers have underachieved because of health, and last year, LaMarcus Aldridge became the most recent casualty.
Coming off hip surgery, Aldridge should be good to go in 2013, but if something were to happen where the All-Star forward were out for a long period of time, this team would be missing its go-to scorer and veteran leader on and off the court.
If Aldridge stays healthy, this team has a player they know they can rely on.
If he doesn’t, there are too many questions to hope for a successful season.
What If Terry Stotts Plays Fast?
The Trail Blazers have had slow, grind-it-out, isolation basketball engrained into their brains the past few seasons, and with Terry Stotts coming in, you have to wonder if the players will be able to flip the switch and play up-tempo upon his arrival.
Luckily for the Blazers, they’re young. And with fresh legs on the court every night, getting up and down the floor should be no problem at all.
Stotts’ track record as a head coach is subpar, but his ability to help lead an offense as an assistant shows that there’s something there.
If the new coach can come out, reestablish Portland’s offense and create for high-energy performances, this team is going to flourish with such a young, energetic roster.
What If Damian Lillard Doesn’t Pan Out?
If Damian Lillard doesn’t pan out the way people in Portland think he will, this team is going no where.
We saw last year what happened when LaMarcus Aldridge tried to carry the team on his own, and it wasn’t pretty for most of the season.
If Lillard struggles as a rookie, he’ll have plenty of time to adjust his game and come back; but when it comes to the 2013 season, if Lillard struggles, so will the team.
What if Lillard Is Who We Think He Is?
If this is the case, as everybody in Portland hopes it is, the team is setting itself up for success immediately, not just down the road.
With as much talent as Lillard brings into the league, it’s easy to see how the Blazers’ success will rely heavily on how well the point guard adjusts to the game.
Lillard’s involvement with Aldridge will be crucial to next year. If the two players can use each other nicely, they’re both going to have great seasons.
If Lillard has a great year, the team is looking at a push toward the playoffs, and the point guard is looking at a run toward the Rookie of the Year in 2013.
What If the Blazers Win 40 Games?
If the Blazers win 40 games this season, it will be a successful year in many eyes.
Unfortunately, it might not be enough to get into the postseason.
Teams such as the Golden State Warriors, Utah Jazz and Minnesota Timberwolves have all improved this offseason and there’s a good chance that every postseason squad this year will have passed the 40-win mark by the time the playoffs begin.
A 40-win year would be a solid showing from such a young squad, but don’t be surprised if the team is still left out in the end despite eclipsing the expectations that some have put on them heading into next season.