STAYING: Allen Crabbe, Tim Frazier, Chris Kaman, Meyers Leonard, Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
ADDED: Cliff Alexander (Kansas), Al-Farouq Aminu (Dallas), Pat Connaughton (Notre Dame), Ed Davis (LA Lakers), Moe Harkless (Orlando), Gerald Henderson (Charlotte), Luis Montero (Westchester CC), Mason Plumlee (Brooklyn), Phil Pressey (Boston) and Noah Vonleh (Charlotte).
GONE: Arron Afflalo (New York), LaMarcus Aldridge (San Antonio), Nicolas Batum (Charlotte), Steve Blake (Detroit), Joel Freeland (CSKA Moscow), Robin Lopez (New York), Wesley Matthews (Dallas) and Dorell Wright (Chongqing Flying Dragons).
STRENGTHS: Damian Lillard … Underrated guard that can carry a team on his shoulders … With most of the top Portland players gone, it’s his squad now … Don’t be surprised if he ends up leading the NBA in scoring … CJ McCollum had a really strong final stretch last season … Along with Lillard and newcomer Gerald Henderson, it could be a potent backcourt for the Blazers … Frontcourt has serious length/athleticism with the likes of Al-Farouq Aminu, Moe Harkless, Ed Davis, Noah Vonleh and Mason Plumlee … Roster is filled with young, hungry players who will be given a chance to shine.
WEAKNESSES: It’s basically a team starting from scratch … When you lose four of your five starters, you are going to be in trouble … Not enough talent around Lillard … It’s a pretty clear defensive game plan for clubs facing Portland … All eyes on Lillard … He will have to take enormous offensive responsibility, which could hurt his efficiency … Inexperience will cost the team a lot of wins … Many players still trying to figure things out in the NBA … With so many new faces, chemistry is likely going to be an issue … Blazers better push the ball more than they used to because they are going to struggle to score in half-court sets … No go-to guy down low … No pressure to win now … Everybody knows it’s a rebuilding year.
PREDICTION: 5th in the Northwest Division / 15th in the Western Conference.