FanShot

True Hoop #2 in the West Preview

7

Gives the case for and against a team finishing 2nd in the West behind a certain team from LA that's not the Clippers. Blazer-related bits- Case for- "14 different players had their names announced as starters for the Trail Blazers during a regular season game in 2009-10. That list included Juwan Howard, who logged more than 1,600 minutes -- many of them at center. Through all the injuries, uncertainty, player movement and discontent in the backcourt, Portland managed to eke out 50 wins. There's no guarantee the Trail Blazers will return to full health in 2010-11 -- but they have insurance policies all over the floor. If Greg Oden's body can't hold up, the Trail Blazers can turn to Marcus Camby, who still influences games defensively and on the glass. Wesley Matthews can step in for either Brandon Roy or Nicolas Batum on the wing. Dante Cunningham and Jeff Pendergraph have a full season under their belts. And Andre Miller seems fully acclimated to the task of enabling both Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge. Oklahoma City might be the sexy pick, and you'll never embarrass yourself predicting a 50+ win total for Dallas. But this retooled and rehabilitated Trail Blazers team has the depth, flexibility and hunger to mount a serious challenge out west." Case against- "On the surface, it sure doesn't seem like the Blazers are going to lose more games than they did last year, considering how banged up they were. I "lowballed" them for two reasons: There are a lot of questions surrounding that team, and I think a lot of Western conference teams are going to be better this season. Nobody knows what Oden is going to look like, or if Roy will revert to his 2008-09 form. Andre Miller is a 34-year-old point guard without much of an outside shot -- can he keep getting it done? Is Nicholas Batum going to be as good as everyone seems to think he'll be? What's going to happen with Rudy Fernandez? Where does Wesley Matthews fit in? If everything goes right, the Trail Blazers are going to be seriously, seriously good, but I feel like we've been saying that for a few seasons now. I'm not down on this team by any stretch of the imagination. I just think the Rockets and Thunder are going to be really tough this year, and some of the teams out of the playoff race should get a lot better as well. Those extra wins are going to have to come from somewhere, and my guess is that a few of them will come from the Blazers."

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