Bill Reiter of FoxSports.com checks in with an NBA GM and a scout for their thoughts on the Portland Trail Blazers.
GM No. 1: I like them. I really do. Not just because of the wins. They added some really key pieces, and when LaMarcus is playing this well he's as good as they get and that makes a huge, huge difference. Lillard is what Lillard is, guys like Batum, even Mo Williams coming off the bench, are very good. I don't see them making a run at the Finals. But they're definitely good. I didn't think they'd be this good, but they are.
Scout No. 1: They're pretty good. The most underrated move in the offseason was getting Robin Lopez. Big-time substance guy, dirty work guy, rebounder, defender, and allows LaMarcus not to have to do any of that stuff so he can play mid-range. Plays a ton of minutes for them. He's a huge help. Last year their starters were really good but the bench was atrocious, and now those rotational guys are now overseas - they weren't even good enough to play in the NBA. Replace that with Mo Williams and Thomas Robinson and Dorrell Wright. Batum is one of the best on-ball defenders in the NBA, tremendous defensively. I think it'll be tough for them once the playoffs come around. These guys, where's their big-time winner? They're doing it with guys who haven't really won.
Here's a video breakdown of Lopez's work from Dane Carbaugh that was posted here back in November.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter