The season starts on Wednesday. Here's a round-up of how the Portland Trail Blazers fare in a variety of 2012-13 preseason NBA Power Rankings.
Marc Stein of ESPN.com ranks the Blazers No. 20.
The league boasts only three new coaches: Charlotte's Mike Dunlap, Orlando's Jacque Vaughn and Terry Stotts here. You can safely assume Stotts, armed with an All-Star forward (Aldridge) and a dynamic rookie (Lillard), enjoys the closest thing to a decent Year 1.
John Schuhmann of NBA.com ranks the Blazers No. 23.
Damian Lillard could have the most fun matchups of opening week. He begins his NBA career by facing Steve Nash on Wednesday, Russell Westbrook on Friday, and Jeremy Lin on Saturday. The Blazers' interior defense, which allowed 48 points in the paint per game in the preseason, won't be so fun.
Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports ranks the Blazers No. 20.
20. Portland Trail Blazers (28-38 last season): Point guard Damian Lillard already looks like he could be the NBA's top rookie this season.
Matt Dollinger of SI.com ranks the Blazers No. 21.
Portland might have gotten the steal of the draft at No. 6 with Damian Lillard, who was the co-MVP of the Las Vegas summer league after averaging 26.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game. With LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum, the team is set at forward. Can rookie Meyers Leonard develop into the center they hoped Greg Oden would be? Either way, he'll play. The only other proven big men on the roster are J.J. Hickson and Jared Jeffries, neither of whom is suited for the center position.
Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk ranks the Blazers No. 20.
Hey Damian Lillard, welcome to the NBA. Your first three games: Steve Nash and the Lakers, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder, Jeremy Lin and the Rockets. Have fun storming the castle.
SportingNews.com ranks the Blazers No. 24.
Getting LaMarcus Aldridge back after hip surgery and re-signing small forward Nicolas Batum gives the Blazers two quality veterans. They'll need to take the reins as leaders, because the Blazers probably will have rookies at point guard (Damian Lillard) and center (Meyers Leonard).
Ben Rohrbach of WEEI.com ranks the Blazers No. 22.
Portland: Even Kyrie Irving couldn't transform the Cavaliers by himself, so what makes people think rookie point guard Damian Lillard can resuscitate the Blazers, even if his supporting cast is better than Irving's?
Seth Rosenthal of SB Nation ranks the Blazers No. 21.
The Blazers are pretty young and kinda deep. They also have a new coach in Terry Stotts and, unless Damian Lillard explodes from the very outset, no obvious candidate to create shots and lead the way. LaMarcus Aldridge is wonderful, but perhaps not enough of an isolation producer to take the Blazers anywhere meaningful.
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