Andrew Unterberger of The Basketball Jones lists forward Thomas Robinson and guard Damian Lillard as the two most interesting members of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Most Interesting New Player: Thomas Robinson
Arguably the league's first journeyman sophomore, Thomas Robinson enters the season as one of basketball's bigger puzzles, a guy who can make one NBA writer's list of pleasant surprises from the Summer League while also making another's list of the league's biggest disappointments. In his finer moments he still looks like one of the league's most promising young talents, combining size, athleticism and skill in a way few young bigs can, but the fact that it's rarely translated thus far into consistent NBA production has resulted in two teams already cutting bait with him, including the Houston Rockets, who have never seemed like an organization that gives away valuable assets for little to no return.
Can he get to that level of consistency with the Blazers? And if he does, could that mean that Portland might actually listen to offers for the reportedly discontented LaMarcus Aldridge, with Robinson potentially his replacement at power forward? Maybe and probably not, respectively, but T-Rob will make for 15-20 fascinating minutes of bench production a night until then.
Most Interesting Returning Player: Damian Lillard
Lillard may have taken the league by storm in his rookie year, but now that we know him a little bit better, there's probably going to be a whole lot less jaw-dropping at his tremendous play making and cold-blooded clutch shooting, and a whole lot more picking at his flaws like his relatively inefficient scoring, his lackluster on-ball defense, and so forth. The honeymoon is over with Damian, and now it's on him to improve the weaknesses of his game, at least if he wants to push Portland to playoff contention, and himself join the ranks of the league's point guard elite, which seems to get more exclusive every year. The specter of Damon Stoudamire looms large, but hopefully Lillard has the IQ and work ethic to figure out NBA play at a higher level than Mighty Mouse ever quite managed after his first few seasons.
Click here to read his entertaining rundown of the rest of the Northwest Division.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter