The Basketball Jones Previews The 2012-13 Portland Trail Blazers

Steve Dykes-US PRESSWIRE

The Basketball Jones offers a wide-ranging preview of the 2012-13 NBA season and the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Basketball Jones is in full 2012-13 NBA season preview mode. Here's a round-up of their coverage of the Portland Trail Blazers.

Scott Carefoot ranks the Portland Trail Blazers No. 23 in his preseason NBA power rankings.

23. Portland Trail Blazers

I'm not really sure what Blazers management saw in Terry Stotts and his 115-168 career pro record that led them to give him a third chance to prove that he can be a successful NBA coach, but here we are. Early reports indicate that Stotts plans to go young and athletic with this squad, with J.J. Hickson starting as an undersized center and rookie guard Damian Lillard likely to start. It's a fan-friendly approach but it's not likely to be a strategy that propels the Blazers into the playoffs.

The Blazers in their current iteration kind of remind me of my Raptors when they were led by Chris Bosh. Like Bosh, LaMarcus Aldridge is a very good player, a fringe All-Star that any team would be happy to have. But if he's your best player and there's a significant gap between him and your second best player, you're probably not going to finish above .500.

Andrew Unterberger ranks the best teams to watch on NBA League Pass. The Blazers rank No. 25 out of 30.

25. Portland Trail Blazers (Last Year: #28)

Things are looking up for the Blazers, who cut ties with both of their Ghosts of DNPs Past and added one of the most exciting rookies in the league (Damien Lillard) as well as a guy whose name sounds like it would make a great sandwich (Meyers Leonard). Both are unquestionably positive developments, but there's still a little too much mediocre on this team, and extending the quintessentially uninteresting Nic Batum like they did is a League Pass Cap Space killer, assuming such a concept exists. Check back in a year or two, though.

Dennis Velasco names Nicolas Batum as the Blazers' X-factor.

Portland Trail Blazers: Nicolas Batum

When he's not punching opponents in the junk, Batum shows flashes of brilliance on the court and the Blazers are now paying him as such after the Timberwolves tried to sign him away during the offseason. With Gerald Wallace, Brandon Roy and Jamal Crawford no longer around to keep him down, Batum is given the starting three position with no one to take his minutes. Can he still produce with higher expectations and reliance on him?

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

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