LaMarcus Aldridge & Wesley Matthews join voluntary workouts


Voluntary workouts continue at the Portland Trail Blazers facilities as training camp draws closer. Yesterday, LaMarcus Aldridge and Wesley Matthews joined the workouts and looked ready to start the season. Although the workouts are voluntary, early chemistry can develop when the entire team gets together. Training camp kicks off in five days and the Trail Blazers seem eager and excited.

You can view video footage of the workout here.

A few observations from yesterday’s practice footage:

  1. Wesley Matthews looks good. Real good. I know they only showed the shots that went down but he appears to be in great shape. He took the ball down low and used his post up game effectively. He was also able to stretch the floor with his three-point shooting. Matthews had a post practice interview in which he referenced all of the things he’s added to his game in the offseason. You can view that interview here, on Matthews is looking to be a more dynamic player, something that the Trail Blazers desperately need. If Matthews can attack defenders off the dribble and finish in traffic, the Trail Blazers will have another dimension to their team.
  2. LaMarcus Aldridge seems bigger (in a good way). I’m not sure if Aldridge added some weight in the offseason but he looks more stout. With the amount of minutes he plays, Aldridge needs to be durable. Working hard in the weight room can definitely make a player more durable. Alridge was primarily posting up in the practice footage yet he was really concentrating on passing the ball. If he can improve his low post passing, it will help the offense swing the ball and find the open man. Last season’s success could be attributed to the amount of ball movement the Trail Blazers created as a team, just as many of their losses could be attributed to the lack thereof. It starts with each player understanding the team is greater than the individual.
  3. Chris Kaman will add depth and toughness to the Trail Blazers roster. Kaman provides the perfect workout partner for Robin Lopez. He is big, physical and can shoot the mid-range jumper. Lopez hasn’t had a consistent center to go up against in practice. Meyers Leonard isn’t well rounded enough to challenge Lopez. Kaman will be able to test Lopez’s mid-range and low post defense. He will also add a more physical edge to create rebounding competition.
  4. Will Barton is ready for a break out season. I wholeheartedly believe that Barton deserves regular playing time. He has shown flashes of excellence. If he can continue to work on his ball handling and defense, he could see significantly more playing time. On a side note, Steve Blake cannot guard Barton (see the video for reference). It’s an unfair matchup. Sorry Steve.

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I’m trying not to get my hopes and expectations up for the 2014-15 Trail Blazers season. I just can’t help myself. Their success was such a welcome surprise last season. I can only imagine that the team will be just as good, if not a little better. It s hard to predict how the Western Conference will shake out. Many teams have improved immensely during the offseason through acquisitions and player development.

Will the Trail Blazers be able to keep up the pace they set last season? The season can’t start soon enough.

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