trailblazers

Power Ranking Portland Trail Blazers 2014-15 roster by position

How do they rank?

Point guard. Shooting guard. Small forward. Power forward. Center.

The Portland Trail Blazers, like all 30 NBA teams, have them, but which position ranks the best on the roster entering the 2014-15 season?

When ranking these positions, a few things come to mind. First is past production. What did the players at each spot do last season, and what has each player done throughout the course of his career?

Conversely, potential is also taken into consideration. Not long-term potential, as we don’t know who will be on the roster five years down the road, but immediate potential as it pertains to the 2014-15 campaign.

And, of course, depth and talent. Having the best player on the roster certainly helps a position, but knowing you can move him to the bench without worry is sometimes just as important.

5. Small Forward

Not even Nicolas Batum can keep the small forward position out of fifth place. (Photo: Steve Benham/KATU.com)

Not even Nicolas Batum can keep the small forward position out of fifth place. (Photo: Steve Benham/KATU.com)

How could a position that has Nicolas Batum be the fifth-best position out of five? After all, the Frenchman did some serious damage in the FIBA World Cup.

Depth and inconsistency. That’s how.

Although Nicolas Batum has become more than just a serviceable swingman, he still lacks the tenacity it takes to become a No. 3 scorer. His rebounding and court vision have only gotten better, but fans would like to see him take the pressure off the top two scorers on a more regular occasion considering the $10-plus million contract he’s currently attached to.

Behind Batum is where the real problem begins. Dorell Wright has the ability to be a lights-out three-point shooter, but he just didn’t show it in his first year with the team last season.

Even more troublesome is the play of Victor Claver, who just can’t seem to excel in any one particular area.

4. Center

Robin Lopez was phenominal during his first year in Portland. He shocked all of Rip City with his ability to dominate the boards and take the pressure off LaMarcus Aldridge down low, and he was a solid defensive presence despite not putting up menacing defensive numbers (although he did block 1.7 shots per game).

The problem is that Robin Lopez can only do so much on his own. He played in 31.8 minutes per contest last year, but whenever he went to the bench, the team became completely exposed at the rim.

The hope is that newcomer Chris Kaman will be the solution at the backup 5 spot. He’s a former All-Star who can make a difference, but he’s coming off a season that saw him deal with injuries and fall out of an already thin Los Angeles Lakers rotation.

Behind Kaman is two unproven commodities in Joel Freeland and Meyers Leonard. The former managed to play solid basketball before getting hurt last year, while the latter regressed from his unimpressive rookie season.

3. Shooting Guard

Although you could make an argument that the center position belongs at No. 3, there’s too much talent to ignore shooting guard.

Starting at the 2, Wesley Matthews is one of the vocal leaders of this franchise. He’s a workhorse on both offense and defense, and he’s become hands down one of the best 3-and-D guys in the entire NBA.

Behind Matthews is unproven talent, but talent nonetheless. For starters, Will Barton has proven time and time again that, despite his often-erratic style of play, he can put up serious numbers (and in an efficient manner) when given minutes.

Sam Forencich/Getty Images

LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard are the biggest reasons power forward and point guard rank second and first, respective. Sam Forencich/Getty Images

Then there’s CJ McCollum and Allen CrabbeAllen Crabbe has a lot of work to do before he’ll ever crack the rotation, but CJ McCollum is the kind of player who can score with ease when health and minutes are on his side.

2. Power Forward

At this point, power forward and point guard become interchangeable depending on your preference. However, with LaMarcus Aldridge as the starter and Thomas Robinson coming off the bench, we give the nod to the floor generals at this juncture.

Sticking with the 4-spot, Aldridge is the veteran leader of this roster. He’s the one with the silky smooth jumper, but he has to get his percentage up in 2014-15 without sacrificing other areas like rebounding.

Thomas Robinson, on the other hand, is the kind of player who will make you jump out of your seat one way or the other. He’s either going to make a brilliant play that you never saw coming, or he’s going to make a boneheaded play that you saw coming a mile away.

The potential is there, but he’s just too unproven to truly rely on at this point in his career.

1. Point Guard

The NBA has become a point guard’s league, and the Trail Blazers are no exception to the rule.

With Damian Lillard leading the way into the future, it makes sense that he’s going to help lead the best position on the roster. Calling him the best player on the team is debatable considering Aldridge is a three-time All-Star, but you can certainly make a case considering how productive he’s been early in his career.

Also at point guard is Steve Blake. The veteran point guard is going to be as smart a player as it comes on this roster, and he’s going to be the perfect presence on the perimeter for both shooting and distribution.

Point guard also has a slight edge because McCollum will spend some time at the 1 — that is, unless he emerges as the perfect 2-guard in Terry Stotts’ system.

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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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