With the regular season nearly bestowed upon us, the Blazers look primed to have a bounce-back season. With a revamped bench and a little help from the big man RoLo, we might finally end the two year dry spell from the playoffs.
Borrowing this idea from the Cavaliers' SB nation blog "Fear the Sword," I will try and help to pass the time between preseason games and take my guess at which player will lead the team in statistical categories.
Points Per Game: LaMarcus Aldridge
LaMarcus will once again be the focal point of the offense this year, and he might even get a nice boost from some his supposedly improved three point shot. The only threat to LA is Damian, but he should not have to score as much or even play as much due to our vastly improved bench. I would not be surprised if Dame averaged more than 20, but LA should shoulder the majority of the scoring burden every night.
Rebounds Per Game: Aldridge
Out with Hickson, in with RoLo. RoLo has never been a good rebounder, and with Hickson gone LA will be left to gobble up all the rebounds for himself. RoLo should help the cause by boxing out and being more of a "team rebounder." There is not anybody that will come close to LA, but if Thomas Robinson can carve out a spot in the rotation then he should be beast on the boards.
Assists Per Game: Damian Lillard
Dame should once again rack up the assists, perhaps even more than last year. With the influx of shooters, Dame may feel the urge to dish it out more often than last season. Mo Williams might push Dame here, as he averaged more APG last season, but that was when he was playing 30 minutes a night and had little competition at the position.
Blocks Per Game: Robin Lopez
RoLo will be the unquestioned defensive anchor of this team, and because of that he will without a doubt lead the team in blocks. Despite playing only 26 minutes per game last season (something that will rise this year,) RoLo was in the top 15 of all players in BPG. Using his giant frame and all of his energy to contain the other team, RoLo should be a monster on the blocks. Nicolas Batum's similarly freakish arm length will help him supplant LA as the teams second best blocker, as LA will not be playing much center this year.
Steals Per Game: Wesley Matthews
Wes gets the slight edge here over Nicolas. Wes has the defensive tenacity and mean streak that will help him lead the team in steals once again, and is probably the best defensive player on the team. It would surprise no one if Nicolas surpassed Wes, but for now Wes looks like the favorite.
Player Efficiency Rating: Aldridge
Aldridge is the Blazers' best player right now and also the most efficient. With RoLo now in the fold, opposing centers will no longer be able to get away with guarding LA. Having a size advantage will help LA tremendously and his game has most likely only improved over the summer.
McMuffins(?) Efficiency Ratio: Allen Crabbe
So is the McMuffin shot a thing this year? Or did the "100 point shot" retire along with the chalupa? And does anyone else think it's a darn shame that Luke Babbitt had to leave this year?
We could have called him Muffin Man, McBabbitt, Mr. Muffin, Egg McTrey, LukeWarm Muffin, Babycakes McGriddle. So many possibilities.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) October 8, 2013
Ripping a page from sabonisposter's book, perhaps the tradition can live on. The ideal candidate to lead the Blazers in McMuffin Efficiency is most likely rookie Allen Crabbe. A three point specialist who will probably be in during garbage time, Crabbe may just be the man to take over. Crabbe better get used to the chants and the warm feeling that comes from giving the fans some "Mc-Ee-Dee's," because he is in prime position to take over Babbitt's prized role of food provider.
Despite a lot of turnover in the roster, many of the statistical leaders of last year should remain the same, but it is all based on speculation. In the long run, the statistical leaders will not really matter. As long as the Blazers can find a way make the playoffs, Joel Freeland could lead the team in assists and I would not care. (Alright, maybe I would.)