Here's a round-up of various NBA preseason power rankings in advance of Sunday's start to the 2011-2012 regular season. The Portland Trail Blazers are ranked anywhere from No. 11 to No. 17. Included with each ranking is Portland's forecast breakdown provided by the writer.
Marc Stein, ESPN.com: No. 14
Day 1 of Blazers camp: B-Roy stunningly forced to retire, Oden shelved for another season with more of his own knee torment and Aldridge sidelined by a heart scare. Maybe this is the season Team What Next gets it all out of its system early.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: No. 12
One of the more interesting boxscore tidbits of the preseason thus far? Jamal Crawford's seven assists in just 22 minutes on Monday. The Blazers have a strong top-eight in their rotation, but unless rookie Nolan Smith is ready to run the show, Crawford could be asked to handle the ball quite a bit.
Britt Robson, SI.com: No. 15
Brandon Roy is gone and Greg Oden is, per usual, at least temporarily out of service. Still, the Blazers soldier on, picking up veteran role players like high-scoring combo guard Jamal Crawford and wizened center Kurt Thomas, who somehow makes a virtue out of his immobility. Coach Nate McMillan, who continues to run a tight ship while owner Paul Allen confines his bloodletting to the front office, will once again test the diligence of opposing defenses by milking the shot clock. With Roy's retirement and Andre Miller's departure in exchange for Raymond Felton, McMillan will break in a new backcourt and rely on the hard-nosed skills of swingmen Wes Matthews, Gerald Wallace and especially Nic Batum, whose improvement would go a long way toward clinching a playoff berth.
Sean Deveny, SportingNews.com: No. 14
It was a sad offseason for the Blazers, with the retirement of Brandon Roy and another knee injury to Greg Oden. But in reality, the team had already moved on from them. Portland signed Jamal Crawford, has athletic wings Nic Batum and Gerald Wallace, and saw the blossoming of LaMarcus Aldridge last year. All that is cause for optimism.
Matt Moore, CBSSports.com: No. 17
This team has a big hill to climb, but Nate McMillan seems to always get more out of his squad than humanly possible.
Kurt Helin, ProBasketballTalk.com: No. 11
Sam Amico, FoxSports.com: No. 13
LaMarcus Aldridge became the Big Man in the Rose Garden last season, and this is clearly his team. Newcomer Raymond Felton is also coming off his best season as a pro. Is this the year Greg Oden plays 56 games and fans celebrate because of it?
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter