2011-12 results: 28-38, overall, 4th in the Northwest Division
Key Departures: Gerald Wallace, Marcus Camby, Raymond Felton, Jamal Crawford, Kurt Thomas, Jonny Flynn, Joel Pryzbilla, Hasheem Thabeet.
Key Additions: Terry Stotts (head coach), Damian Lillard, Meyers Leonard, Will Barton, Victor Claver, Joel Freeland, Jared Jeffries, Ronnie Price, Adam Morrison.
The 2012-13 season for the Portland Trail Blazers is surrounded by question marks. Should LaMarcus Aldridge be included in possible MVP consideration? Is Damian Lillard the point guard of the future? Can Meyers Leonard be a solid NBA center? Will Claver and Freeland be able to gel into NBA basketball after playing overseas for their entire careers? What direction can coach Terry Stotts take the Blazers?
LaMarcus Aldridge showed the league that he’s not only Portland’s number one offensive weapon, but he’s one of the best big men in the league and will go for a second consecutive All-Star berth. Nicolas Batum is the next weapon and will definitely need to prove he’s worth that gross $46 million, four-year offer sheet that Portland matched in July.
It’s difficult right now to see what direction the Blazers are headed. They had to swallow the fact that the Brandon Roy-Greg Oden dream is dead and turned their sights to lottery picks, thereby drafting Lillard and Leonard with the sixth and eleventh picks respectively. Both had a very good Summer League experience, and while Lillard has been said to be in contention for Rookie of the Year, all the young players on the roster need time to grow.
This upcoming season is not a “win now” mode. It’s more of a learning curve and no one expects Portland to win a lot of games and hang around the cellar of the Northwest Division. Even snatching 35 wins would exceed expectations.