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HoopsWorld Panel: Blazers To Finish 5th In Northwest

A panel of five HoopsWorld.com writers all predict that the Portland Trail Blazers will finish fifth in the Northwest Division in their 2012-13 Blazers season preview. ---------------------------- This time last year, the Portland Trail Blazers were a veteran-laden team that hoped to be a dark horse in the Western Conference. But after parting ways with Gerald Wallace, Marcus Camby, Raymond Felton, Jamal Crawford, Greg Oden and Nate McMillan, this is the start of a rebuilding effort in Portland. After taking over as general manager of the Blazers, Neil Olshey made it his priority to build around LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum and he has done an excellent job surrounding his franchise cornerstones with young talent. Damian Lillard is Portland’s point guard of the future, Meyers Leonard has a ton of upside and Will Barton is a potential steal. This may not have been the step back that Portland fans wanted to take, but it was necessary and it’ll pay off down the road once these talented young players come into their own. The Blazers may not win a ton of games this year, but they’ll be a team to keep an eye on over the next few seasons. – Alex Kennedy When you take a look at Portland’s starting lineup, you can’t help but think to yourself, "Hey, that looks pretty good!" With Rookie of the Year candidate Damian Lillard and All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge leading the charge for the Blazers, there’s a lot to like about the direction this organization is headed. But, once you get past that starting lineup the bench looks terribly thin, which is why I tend to think this year is going to be a bit of a struggle for the young (albeit talented) Portland Trail Blazers. – Joel Brigham ---------------------------- -- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

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