FREE $25 when you Join Now – Use your Free $25 to get a BEST BET at NO cost!

Stories

Stories

Sports news with a Vegas perspective.

1 Members
  • Type:
    Joinless
  • Created On:
    09/07/2011 10:47 PM
  • Last Update:
    Yesterday - 7:59 AM

2013/14 NBA Team Preview: Portland Trailblazers

Season Review 2012/13:

Advanced Stats
Numbers
Rank
Pace
91.4
18
Offense
105.8
15
Defense
109.2
26
Rebound
49.9
18

4 Factors
Offense
Numbers
Rank
Defense
Numbers
Rank
eFG%
49.8
14
eFG%
51.2
26
TO%
13.9
16
TO%
12.5
27
Reb%
25.3
23
Reb%
26.7
20
FT%
19.4
22
FT%
18.9
6

Monthly Performance
Record
OffRtg
DefRtg
November
 6-10
105.0
110.5
December
 9-4
107.4
106.1
January
 8-8
106.6
108.1
February
 3-9
106.6
115.5
March
 7-9
113.5
113.4
April
 0-9
101.4
118.1


It wasn’t supposed for Portland to have a 20-15 record after 35 games played in last year’s regular season, something they managed to do after a huge home win against the reigning champions Miami Heat by 92-90 on January 10.

The team was supposedly on a full rebuilding mode after the disaster that they were in the previous season, where Portland went from potential outsiders on the West to the conference’s biggest disappointment. Mostly thanks to that, Coach Nate McMillan was fired even before the season ended and several of the Blazers’ “top” players were gone: Gerald Wallace, Marcus Camby, Raymond Felton, Jamal Crawford (and Greg Oden).

Apparently, GM Neil Olshey was aware of this rebuilding process and he didn’t make a huge effort to improve the team. He decided to keep his cap salary in check instead and look more into the team’s future than into the its present. So, they drafted the PG Damian Lillard.

However, a team led by a rookie PG not only surprised the league, as even their own GM! Portland had virtually no depth on its roster, but their starters formed a pretty decent unit that was competitive against everybody! Over their first 20 wins of the seasons, Portland defeated teams like the Lakers, Houston (twice), Chicago, San Antonio, Denver, the NY Knicks, Memphis and Miami!

Lillard’s rookie season was especially great because of the composure that he showed all season long. In general, rookies have problems in adapting to the NBA due to the game speed, the tough schedule with a lot of travelling and of course, too many games for them! In Lillard’s particular case, we had a rookie who averaged almost 40 minutes/game (38.6)! Obviously, he was #1 on rookie minutes/game last season and the #2 on that list, Bradley Beal, played less 7.5 minutes/game than Lillard! Besides that, Lillard also played all 82 games of the season! Wow!

Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge carried the offense for the Blazers. They were basically a jump shooting team that ran plenty of pick and rolls sets, while 51.3% of their shots came from +16 feet or further!

Portland’s main problem was indeed an awful defense all season long. As good as Lillard is on offense, he struggled mightily on defense, something that isn’t big news as if Lillard was putting the same effort on defense that he was putting on offense, we would be in presence of a superman! Portland also used J.J. Hickson as their starting center and not only Hickson isn’t a natural fit for that position, as he isn’t a good defensive player

Any team that struggles defensively in these two positions (Center + Point Guard) is vulnerable and their opponents took advantage of that. Portland was the #5 worst defensive team in the league last season and it all started with their inability to prevent teams to score easily against them: they were the worst paint defense in the league with 47.4 points in the paint allowed per game.

To make matters even worse for them, Portland had by far the worst bench unit in the league, something that became a problem once fatigue became a real factor. Their starting lineup Hickson-Aldridge-Batum-Matthews-Lillard played 1143 minutes together, while their second most used lineup (Hickson-Aldridge-Claver-Batum-Lillard) played together for just 142 minutes of action.

Finally, when Portland saw that they didn’t have chances to reach the playoffs, the organization decided to manage the minutes of their starters, giving more opportunities to their backups. The result of that was the team losing their last 13 games of the season.


Offseason Report:

Neil Olshey saw with his own eyes how good his starting lineup was last season, while their bench was awfully terrible, so the offseason’s main objective was to give the team more depth.

The only player that could be easily replaced on the starting lineup last season was J.J. Hickson, who had an expiring contract. He would never be the team’s long-term solution for the Center position and so, Portland didn’t make a real push to re-sign him.
Olshey basically brought a new player for every position of the team:

In the backcourt, Portland drafted C.J. McCollum, who might become one of the surprises of this draft. He has already a solid offensive game and he can play at both SG and PG positions. Portland also acquired veterans Mo Williams and Earl Watson. For some reason, Dorell Wright was in Doug Collins’s doghouse several times in Philadelphia. He was underrated and Portland took advantage of that to sign him on a 6M 2-year contract.

For the frontcourt, Portland signed the enigmatic Thomas Robinson, who had a weird rookie season in Houston and Sacramento. For the center spot, the Blazers were involved in a 3-team trade and grabbed Robin Lopez, who is a typical center unlike Hickson.


Season Preview:

If the head coach Terry Stotts manages to find the right chemistry and lineups for his team, then the Blazers have the potential to be a pretty solid team this season.

Damian Lillard was the team’s most talked player last season, but LaMarcus Aldridge is still the team’s best player by far. He enjoyed another solid season with 21.1 points per game, while shooting 48.4% FG. Aldridge is without a doubt one of the best PF’s in the league right now. He also improved in another areas, with career highs of 9.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. He played a bit far from the rim last season, as he attempted 4.1 shots at the rim per game, while he had 6.1 and 5.1 rim shots/game over the previous two seasons. Of course he attempted a career high 7.3 shots per game from the 16-23 feet area, but the good news is that he had a nice 41.0% FG mark in those shots. There are a few rumors that Aldridge might leave Portland on free agency in two years, but with a more competitive team around him, this might convince him to continue in the franchise in the future.

Regarding Lillard, the key is that he needs to more efficient and improve his defensive game. I think the solution will be reducing his minutes per game, in order for him to manage his effort levels better. Mo Williams and Earl Watson are serviceable backups, but I don’t like the way that Mo Williams has been playing over the last few years, but I have no doubts that he will be an upgrade over what Portland had on their bench last season, while rookie C.J. McCollum can also make an unexpected impact in the league.

Damian Lillard, Mo Williams and C.J. McCollum aren’t good defensive players, so Stotts will have to find the right lineups in other to prevent Portland’s backcourt defense to be a disaster once again. This means that Wesley Matthews will have a vital role on this area. He isn’t exactly a defensive specialist, but if Portland wants to be more competitive this season, he will have to step it up defensively, while his offense has been decent especially behind the arc (40.7%, 41.2% and 39.8% 3pts on last three seasons).

The same can be said about Nicolas Batum, who even though he has the reputation of being a good defensive player, his defense over the last two seasons has been a bit overrated. However, we are dealing with a 24 years old player with a lot of potential and his importance on the team is getting bigger by the years. His all-around numbers last season were a huge jump forward! Batum had career high numbers on rebounds per game (5.6), blocks (1.1), steals (1.2) and even assists: from 1.4 assists/game in 2011-12 into 4.9 assists/game last season! We are talking about a 15-6-5 (points-rebounds-assists) player, something that makes him a great complementary player!

Portland will need to improve their interior defense this season, something that won’t be hard, as they were the #30 ranked paint defense in the league last season. This is why they signed Robin Lopez, but I’m not convinced in Lopez’s ability to be a defensive stopper. All teams where he played had subpar numbers, with him allowing 0.73 PPP in post up plays last season (ranked #53). Anyway, he is an obvious upgrade over J.J. Hickson. Meyers Leonard and Thomas Robinson will now play their second season on the NBA and at least one of them will have to step it up this season.

The Blazers have all the tools to be a competitive team this season with more depth, but they need to improve their defense badly. If Coach Stotts manages to put his team on the #10’s defensive ranks, then Portland will certainly fight for the Playoffs this season.

My name is André Gomes, I’m from Portugal and I am a Professional Handicapper. My sole purpose is to constantly beat the sportsbooks by taking advantage of the evaluation errors they make. It is most... Read more

Email Share Sent

Your share has been sent.

x

Quick View

Loading...

Future Game

League:

Teams:

Date:

Time:

Pick:

Bet Type:

Odds:

Picked:

Contests: ,

Full Pick Details

x

Multi Quick View

Loading...

Pick Name
Odds: Odds
Picked: Stamp

x

Quick View

Rank:

Member:

Team:

Wins:

Losses:

Ties:

x

Pregame.com Join Contest

x