Candace Buckner of The Columbian offered year-end grades for the 2012-13 Portland Trail Blazers, ranging from an A+ for Damian Lillard to an F for Nolan Smith.
Damian Lillard | Midterm grade: A | Final grade: A+
Why waste words? Just buy a new suit, Damian. You'll need it for your NBA Rookie of the Year award presentation next month.
Nolan Smith | Midterm grade: D | Final grade: F
According to Trail Blazer general manager Neil Olshey, Smith needs new scenery. Such a nice way of saying: "Get lost!"
This summer will be pivotal for Smith, the former first-round selection from Duke, as he looks for a new job with another team. Although his work ethic should never be questioned, he has been just another 'Smith' and that's not enough to impress NBA teams.
Head coach Terry Stotts | Final grade: B-
The gloss of the season turned to grit as the Blazers lost 13 consecutive games, which tied the longest losing streak in franchise history. Only the 1971-1972 Blazers - the second year as a franchise - had lost as many as this team. So, in effect, Stotts had comparable talent to work with as an expansion team.
Still, Stotts got creative with the roster he inherited. He tried to hide the incredibly gaping holes with the lack of depth by keeping his starters on the floor. He kept Aldridge happy by feeding him the ball, which led to another All-Star appearance. And he gave ample opportunities to the rookies to aid their development.
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