Spencer Lund of DimeMag.com writes that Portland Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey deserves recognition for his 2013 offseason.
In just a few quick months, Olshey - who also did a good job removing the stigma attached to the Clippers after taking over for GM/coach Mike Dunleavy, Sr. in the summer of 2010 - should be applauded for building this team up, rather than dealing [LaMarcus] Aldridge and starting from scratch with just [Damian] Lillard and [Nicolas] Batum. The Blazers are solid now, they just needed some key bench pieces, which Olshey was able to acquire. But it's a far from perfect group, even now.
This Portland team will still be on the cusp of the playoffs just like Dallas, New Orleans, and Minnesota, but you have to like their chances after they did so well to get into playoff contention last season before imploding down the stretch. Remember, take away those final 13 losses, and the Blazers were near .500 at 33-35 with a month to play. That's with the league's worst bench, too. It's not too crazy to envision them playing a lot better in the season's final month with rested starters and a team that's 9 or 10 players deep, rather than last seasons' mess.
Daniel Leroux of RealGM.com also included the Blazers in the "good" category for his offseason rundown of all 30 teams.
Unable to bring in true star power to make a stronger starting lineup, Portland corrected their most glaring weakness by putting together a truly fascinating second unit. CJ McCollum, Robin Lopez, Dorell Wright and Thomas Robinson could all play pivotal roles early on while Allen Crabbe should fit in nicely over time. Having so much more depth should make the Blazers a more sturdy playoff contender as long as Damian Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Baturm continue to improve.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter