trailblazers

Power ranking Portland Trail Blazers 2014-15 roster

Who Will Be No. 1: L.A. or Dame?

With NBA training camps quickly approaching, the Portland Trail Blazers are lucky enough to have all 15 roster spots filled.

We have a good idea as to what the rotation will look like, so let’s take a look at how each player ranks at this point in the process.

15. Allen Crabbe

One year into Allen Crabbe‘s career, it would be unfair to call him a disappointment, especially considering he was a second-round draft pick. However, he never stood out in practice enough to earn minutes throughout the season, leaving him as a bit of a question mark entering his sophomore campaign.

What we do know is that he has the potential to be a lights-out shooter. He always shot well at UC Berkeley, and he shot 42.9 percent from long range in 2013-14.

The catch is that he only attempted 0.9 three-pointers per game in his 15 contests, so we need to see more before we can trust him as the Blazers’ next long-distance threat.

14. Victor Claver

Expect to see a lot of this next season.

Expect to see a lot of this next season.

Victor Claver is a solid player who is decent at everything, just not great at any one particular aspect of his game.

If Victor Claver can make the necessary adjustments to become a lock-down defender, or maybe a three-point specialist, his ranking on this list will change drastically. Until then, he’ll see minutes sparingly.

13. Meyers Leonard

Meyers Leonard did the opposite of what fans wanted to see last season: He regressed.

In just 40 games, Leonard’s numbers fell (2.5 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 0.1 BPG, 45.1 FG%), and as a result, he’ll be the fourth center on the roster behind Joel Freeland, Chris Kaman and Robin Lopez.

12. C.J. McCollum

CJ McCollum is the ultimate X-Factor for the Trail Blazers. He starts his sophomore season near the bottom of this list, but if health and consistency are in his favor, he has the potential to become the team’s most productive guard off the bench.

In order to climb the rankings, Portland must see efficient shooting. He was brought in to be a scorer in the second unit, and while becoming a true point guard would also earn him minutes, the former seems much more likely considering his offensive skill set.

11. Will Barton

If any one player has proven he can take advantage of minutes off the bench, it’s Will Barton.

The former Memphis Tiger showed flashes of brilliance last season that should give the coaching staff confidence when he takes the floor. He still needs to get his play under control at times, but you simply can’t argue with results, even if they’re not always pretty.

10. Dorell Wright

We know at this point in his career that Dorell Wright isn’t technically getting any better. That said, he can certainly play better than he did last season.

In 68 games, Dorell Wright averaged five points per contest. That number is fine considering he played in fewer than 15 minutes per game, but his 34.2 percent shooting from behind the arc is what fans and coaches alike would like to see improve in 2015.

9. Joel Freeland

Before going down with a knee injury last season, Joel Freeland was the most consistent option at backup center for the Blazers. He was playing solid defense without fouling, and he was helping spread the floor with a decent short-to-mid-range jumper.

The problem here is that Joel Freeland never looked the same after the injury. We’ll have to see what he brings to the rotation this season before we move him up on this list.

A consistent Thomas Robinson will earn more minutes next season.

A consistent Thomas Robinson will earn more minutes next season.

8. Thomas Robinson

Based on potential and athleticism alone, Thomas Robinson deserves to be ahead of Steve Blake on this list. Inconsistency, however, is what keeps him at No. 8.

Thomas Robinson averaged 4.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per game in his sophomore year, and he was best when he was attacking the offensive glass. It’s those pesky spin moves and mid-range jumpers that get him in trouble, proving that discipline will be his biggest hurdle moving forward.

7. Steve Blake

How much does Steve Blake have left in the tank? We’re about to find out.

What we know about the veteran point guard at this point in his career is that you’re going to get three-point shooting, smart passes and surprisingly aggressive defense. He won’t be an upgrade over Mo Williams in terms of points per game, but he’s likely to be less frustrating to watch, as you’ll rarely be up in arms over something he’s done.

6. Chris Kaman

When Chris Kaman signed with the Trail Blazers, he instantly became the team’s newest sixth man.

With Robin Lopez playing the fewest minutes of any starter, it’s important to have a guy like Chris Kaman coming off the bench. He’ll be a big body on the block to take pressure off LaMarcus Aldridge, and as long as he stays healthy, he’ll be a fan favorite for anyone who enjoys blue-collar basketball.

5. Robin Lopez

Robin Lopez was the biggest surprise of the 2013-14 season for the Trail Blazers.

Despite coming in as an underwhelming acquisition, the 7-footer could not have represented Portland any better. His willingness to play down low and crash the boards is exactly what fans wanted to see, and his quirky personality and love for anything nerdy helped him acclimate quickly to a community that also likes to keep things weird.

4. Wesley Matthews

Wesley Matthews goes down as No. 4 on this list, but you could make a strong case for him being No. 3. He’s become one of the most effective 3-and-D guys in the entire NBA, and he’s done it while (unfairly) remaining under the radar on the national scale.

Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

In the series against the Houston Rockets, Wesley Matthews made it his No. 1 goal to shut down James Harden — and it worked. During the regular season, he was fifth in three-pointers made across the entire Association.

Like many a few other plaeyers on this roster, Matthews is entring a contract season, meaning every game counts with a pay day just around the corner.

3. Nicolas Batum

At this point in Nicolas Batum‘s career, he’s still yet to live up to the hype that has surrounded him since entering the league. He’s yet to prove he can be a consistent second- or even third-type scoring option, but last season saw him boost his other numbers to career highs.

Among those per-game statistics are rebounds (7.5) and assists (5.1), but he also managed to slide into the role of No. 4 scorer while still remaining the third-best player. Taking his game to the next level will require a few more points per game and a three-point percentage higher than 36.1, but at this point in the process, he fits Portland’s system nicely.

2. Damian Lillard

If you want to name Damian Lillard as the No. 1 player on this roster, go ahead. You’ll certainly have people on your side.

That said, at this point in the youngster’s career he shouldn’t be content with where he’s at, as defense and efficient shooting can certainly be improved.

Despite the nit-picking, Damian Lillard‘s 2013-14 campaign was about as good as anyone could have expected. His assists dropped 0.9 per game from his rookie season, but virtually every other major statistic improved.

Before we know it, Lillard will be the consensus best player on this roster. However, there’s one face of the franchise ahead of him that isn’t ready to give up that title just yet.

1. LaMarcus Aldridge

LaMarcus Aldridge is in his prime. While “glass half empty” kind of people will look at that fact and point to a lack of improvement next season, the other half recognizes that the ultra-talented power forward is ready to lead this team to new heights.

The one area we can look to for Aldridge to improve is efficiency. His field-goal percentage dropped this past season, and that’s a problem considering his attempts increased by nearly three from the season before.

Being in a contract season, however, gives the 29-year-old all the motivation he needs to put up big numbers. Aldridge is coming off three straight All-Star appearances, and if all goes according to plan, his fourth is right around the corner. 

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About Bryant Knox

NWSB Editor. Portland native and Oregon graduate, On a non-stop mission to consume as much Ducks+Trail Blazers content as humanly possible. His love of sports is what attracts him to the game, passion for writing drives him to uncover the stories. Connect w/ Bryant today!
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