NBA 2015-16 Team Previews: Portland Trail Blazers – Free Fall
By Tamberlyn Richardson
Portland Trail Blazers
Our NBA 2015-16 Team Previews begins in the Northwest, next up the Portland Trail Blazers
Record: (51-31) 4th in the Western Conference, 1st in Northwest Division, but did not gain home court based on 6th best record. Lost in first round of playoffs
Rank: Offense: 105.5 (8th rank) Defense: 101.4 (10th rank) Differential/Net: plus +4.2 , (5th) Pace: 96.5 (13th)
- The old starting line-up played over 2,000 minutes together, so with 4 members exiting it leaves a huge hole with zero on court history. With them they take 74 points and 36 rebounds per game.
- Lillard in fact scored most points in NBA as pick and roll ball handler (689), ranked second in 3-point attempts and third among point guards in shots at the basket.
- Despite the heavy minutes he logs among his peers (point guards) he ranks 17th in assists, 28th in steals and 14th among starters at getting to the line
Off Season Moves
Key Areas Needing Addressing:
- Replacing stats produced by 5 of the top 6 players exiting (9 in total)
- Creating team chemistry with 9 new players
- Making sure Lillard stays positive in a growth atmosphere after belonging to a winning club the entirety of his career
Draft: Pat Connaughton selected 41st in second round by Brooklyn, Daniel Diez selected 54th in second round by Jazz for cash
Player Additions/Players Re-Signed:
Returning starters for the Blazers… Lillard ☑️ Matthews ✖️ Batum✖️ Aldridge ✖️ Lopez ✖️ pic.twitter.com/M8l6S02XiC
— The NBA Hub™ (@TheNBAHub) July 5, 2015
Core Players: Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Al-Farouq Aminu, Meyers Leonard, Mason Plumlee
Key Reserves: Gerald Henderson, Noah Vonleh, Maurice Harkless
Rising Star: C.J. McCollum is the player most pundits are picking to win Most Improved and he’ll certainly welcome the opportunity to capture more minutes alongside his All-Star point guard.
On The Bubble: Head Coach Terry Stotts has performed well in Portland especially last season when he turned around the teams’ defensive rank. But what will he do after losing 9 players including 5 of this 6 best players is the question. He needs to show management he can develop the youngsters and specifically improve their talents for the future.
X-Factor: Noah Vonleh was drafted 9th in 2014, but never developed in Charlotte whether it was an issue with Steve Clifford or he wasn’t given the minutes is hard to say. In Vegas this summer he showcased the type of game many of us predicted he was capable of. With time on the court finally watch for his versatile offensive game and ability to defend. If he does what I think he’s capable of he could end up in the Most Improved conversation along with teammate McCollum. Also of interest is rookie Pat Connaughton who elected to skip an opportunity in Major League Baseball to play basketball and young big Meyers Leonard.
Best Case: Portland won’t be expected to make the post season, so this year will be about developing the core and finishing in a lottery position that nabs them a key player to add to the front court.
Worst Case: The past few seasons Portland has started the season hot getting a jump on winning. This season the schedule does them no favors as they’ll face the Spurs, Grizzlies and Suns twice each in their first 10 games. Lillard is a scrappy player, but if he tries to do too much and doesn’t allow his youthful teammates to develop it could have long lasting repercussions.
Prediction: As much as the team does have some youthful talent there just isn’t any veterans on board to help keep them focused on developing fundamental consistent habits regardless of game outcomes. They’ll be a lottery team the question is can they get 30 wins?
Games versus Rockets:
- November 19th at Toyota Center
- February 6th at Toyota Center
- February 10th at Moda Center in Portand
- February 25 at Moda Center in Portand
Fansided Affiliate Site: Rip City Project
Make sure you catch up on our entire Team Preview Series, our Houston Rockets Player Profile Series as well as our SCS Round Table Sessions to help you get through the early season. Start your morning with SCS Rocket Science Daily and visit us throughout the day to keep abreast of all your Houston Rockets news and updates.
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