I know everyone was jubilated by our over-ranking on USA Today (which had has ranked 5th in the league before next season). ESPN released their rankings today and it arguably is more realistic, placing lower expectations on our group of youngsta's.
From fifth in The League to 8th in the West is a pretty big jump. One thing that remains the same is that either way we are predicted to make the playoffs. This may not come as a surprise to most of us since we would all like to see our guys there. After all, LAST YEAR they went a very respectable 41-41 in arguably one of the NBA's toughest conferences in history. We should expect an improvement even if we had the exact same team from last year--you know--that one with the two JJs that're gone now. But with the fresh additions of Oden, Bayless, and Rudy, one could reasonably expect that--chemistry issues aside--our talent increasing will lead to our wins increasing--eventually. Where how long is unknown, we DO expect greatness--at least I do--eventually.
From this standpoint, I would have to argue that I see the Blazers winning more than just 3 games on top of their win total from last season. With the same young group growing from last season I would expect a 3 game improvement. With THIS group, I would expect at least a 5 game improvement (Oden alone should account for this many games if healthy). Personally, I'm HOPING (or dreaming depending on your interpretation) for an improvement of TEN games, giving us a 51-31 record for next season.
So this all of course just begs the question: