Eggers: Blazers Coach Terry Stotts Says J.J. Hickson "Earned The Right" To Be Pre-Camp Starter

Kelvin Kuo-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts explains why J.J. Hickson was named the pre-camp starter at center.

Earlier this week, Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts announced his pre-camp starting five: Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge and J.J. Hickson.

Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune has these thoughts from Stotts on Hickson's role as the potential starting center.

J.J. Hickson has a leg up on the starting center spot. Stotts won't say this directly, but the inference is that the 6-9, 240-pound four-year vet - who joined the Blazers at midseason last year and was about all the team had going down the stretch - is the man to beat.

"I'm not going to say who the starter will be; that's what training camp is for," Stotts says. "But I don't want to dismiss what J.J. did for the team last year. He earned the right to come in and have that position to start camp. He earned a (one-year free-agent) contract, he earned minutes and the team played well with him on the court. That works in his favor.

"J.J.'s not the prototypical center, but he complements LaMarcus (Aldridge) well. He's a big guy, strong and athletic, and what he can do defensively against pick-and-rolls with his athleticism will help us."

Stotts has previously indicated that rookie center Meyers Leonard will start "if he's ready."

Training camp begins next Tuesday.

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

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