2015-16 NBA Previews – Trail Blazers
The Portland Trail Blazers were strong contenders for the 2014-2015 NBA Championship with 40-1 odds behind star players LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard. With Lillard being the only returning starter on this team, this season could be a shaky one for Rip City.
Portland Trail Blazers Season Preview
Head Coach: Terry Stotts
2014 Record: 51-31
Trail Blazers Odds to NBA Title: 200-1
Trail Blazers Odds to Win Conference: 75-1
Trail Blazers Strengths:
General Manager Neil Olshey had a busy offseason, bringing in 12 new players to Portland. With these 12 players, which will be cut down to nine come the regular season, Olshey brought in a strong theme; youth and athleticism.
The Trail Blazers will be looking to change their half-court set-piece offense to a more fluid, fast-paced run n’ gun style, similar to the Golden State Warriors or the Phoenix Suns.
This Trail Blazers team very well could be the most athletic in the NBA with court-runners, high-flyers, and hustle players all suiting up in the black, red, and silver. In recent years, all play has been centered around the slow-paced style of LaMarcus Aldridge.
With his departure this offseason, it’s Damian Lillard’s time to shine as the team’s cornerstone. Stotts will be building this young, high-potential team around Lillard, who signed a 5-year extension just a couple months ago.
Trail Blazers Weaknesses:
Consistency should be the first worry for anybody looking to put a bet on the Blazers. Young teams have the potential to win the unlikeliest of upsets one night, followed by a brutal loss to a bottom-feeder team the next.
The reason why this will be oh so relevant for the Trail Blazers this season is because their team is made up of streaky shooters and poor defenders.
Lillard, much like the rest of this roster, can be very hit or miss with his shot any given night. This former Rookie of the Year will be the one dependable player on this team, and without a doubt the best, so for him to struggle any given night will likely spell doom for a young Trail Blazers team.
Another weakness, perhaps their biggest one, will be their defense. Sure, they’ll have the athleticism to make some big chasedown rejections every once in a while, but the typical stay in front of your man defense will be something that Portland will be missing.
Nigerian National Team member Al-Farouq Aminu was brought on to the team during the offseason to provide one single thing for the Trail Blazers; defense.
Though a defensive upgrade from Nicolas Batum, who was traded to the Charlotte Hornets during the offseason, it’ll be hard to watch one man try to make up for a whole team’s lack of defense.
Trail Blazers Key Personnel Losses:
It was almost a complete sweep for the Trail Blazers this offseason, with Damian Lillard being the only returning starter. LaMarcus Aldridge, who has been the star of the Blazers for years, signed to Gregg Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs.
Wesley Matthews, who is coming off a ruptured achilles, was picked up by the Dallas Mavericks. Robin Lopez joins his brother in the Big Apple, though in the blue & orange, not the black & white, as a member of the New York Knicks.
Nicolas Batum was traded to the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for Gerald Henderson and Noah Vonleh.
The overhaul doesn’t stop there, as only five bench players will be returning to the bench. Other departures include Arron Afflalo, Joel Freeland, Alonzo Gee, and Dorell Wright.
Trail Blazers Top Newcomers:
Where do I begin?
20-year-old power forward Noah Vonleh joins the Trail Blazers, alongside Gerald Henderson, after being sent from Charlotte to Portland in exchange for Nicolas Batum.
6’10” Mason Plumlee and high-flying rookie Pat Connaughton were both acquired on draft night as Portland traded away rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and veteran Steve Blake.
Ed Davis and Al-Farouq Aminu were both highly-desired unrestricted free agents that eventually signed on with the Trail Blazers. Other additions include Maurice Harkless, Phil Pressey, Luis Montero, Omari Johnson, and Cliff Alexander.
Trail Blazers 2015 Betting Prediction: 29-53
In the eyes of team owner Paul Allen, the success of the Portland Trail Blazers won’t be defined by their record.
It has become pretty clear that the Trail Blazers have one single goal for this season; to develop their young, high-potential roster into something that could be great a year or two down the road.
From the perspective of someone looking to place a bet, that could raise some red flags.
The Portland Trail Blazers could end up being the most inconsistent team this season thanks to their youth and primary focus on the future.
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