HoopsWorld.com has posted its extensive 2013-14 season preview for the Portland Trail Blazers.
Who We Like
1. Neil Olshey - Rather than having a long, drawn out rebuilding effort in Portland, Olshey has done an excellent job restocking the cupboard in a short period of time. The Blazers are positioned as one of the best up-and-coming teams in the league and Olshey deserves a lot of credit. Just as he was able to work wonders with the Los Angeles Clippers, Olshey's ability to identify talent through the draft and acquire complementary pieces will have the Blazers fighting for a playoff spot in the competitive Western Conference much sooner than anyone could've anticipated.
2. C.J. McCollum - McCollum was a terrific selection for Portland with the 10th overall pick. He's arguably the most NBA-ready player in this draft class and he would've gone higher if his season hadn't ended prematurely due to a broken foot. McCollum has the ability to score from anywhere on the court, which means he can provide Portland's second unit with a much-needed scoring punch. The fact that McCollum developed a close relationship with Damian Lillard when the two were mid-major stars in college makes the pick even better. Everyone raves about McCollum - on and off the court - and it's no surprise that his fellow rookies voted him most likely to take home Rookie of the Year honors in a recent survey. He's a hard worker, exceptional leader and special player.
3. Nicolas Batum - As previously mentioned, Batum had a breakout campaign in 2012-13 and he should continue to produce at a high level as he continues to mature and expand his game. The 24-year-old is clearly part of Portland's long-term plan and his development will in large part determine just how successful this team becomes. Batum has shown that he can fill the stat sheet and dominate on both ends of the court in spurts. The next step in his progression is improving his consistency. Last season, there were too many games in which he would disappear, and that's something he wants to change going forward.
The site's panel of writers predicts the Blazers will finish anywhere from second to fourth in the Northwest Division.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter