Before we begin, this should never happen. As a Blazer fan I can't stand anything having to do with the L*kers. Don't like them. Never will. In a sports context I suppose you could say I "hate" them, which is half the fun of being in the league with them, really. But in real life, whether switching into media mode or simply passing as a fan, when I see actual Lakers players I don't feel anything but respect for what they do. Put me in a dark alley with a crowbar in my hand next to Andrew Bynum and Ron Artest, each tied up and blindfolded, right before Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals against my team and the only thought crossing my mind would be all three of us getting out of there and them getting back on the court where they belong. That a high school player was assaulted by opposing fans when looking for the restroom speaks volumes about the difference between real fandom (and respect for the sport) and crazy. If you love a team, love the game they play. If you want your team to be the best then hope your team gets to play every opponent at full strength and takes them all down. Outside of that context winning means nothing and sports become a sham.
Back to your regularly-scheduled topic...
Over the last couple of weeks we talked about the expectations facing most of the roster as the 2010-11 season begins. While people expected different things of different players the bar for each individual and for the team as a whole has been set high this season. Blazer fans are anticipating greatness.
So here's the question:
Which player do you think is most likely to exceed Portland fans' expectations for him and which player is the most likely to fall short of the mark?
Note that this requires a little work, as you not only need to identify the player's capabilities but how they match up with expectations. In each case we need to hear what you think fans expect and why you think the player in question will go high or low.
Also note that this does NOT equate to which players are better than others. We're not measuring player versus player, but players versus the bar that's beens set for them. A player of whom a 1 is expected whom you think will actually finish as a 4 will exceed expectations more than a player of whom an 8 is expected who will finish with a 9. This does NOT mean than Player A is better than Player B. Nor does it mean that Player A is better than a player you think will fall short.
My picks are the two starting forwards for the Blazers. Expectations for LaMarcus Aldridge are comparatively low this year, as Blazer fans are slightly down on him after he wasn't able to turn it up enough when injuries forced the spotlight on him last year. I have a feeling LMA is going to come out fired up and dominating. By the end of the season he might not only be back in the good graces of fans, he could regain his spot on Portland's untouchable list. Conversely fans are ultra-high on Nicolas Batum. Anyone who has read my work knows that I am as well. However I suspect it might take him a while for both him and his teammates to settle in to his greater role and for him to overcome his historic lack of consistent aggression. It might be another year before we see the Nicolas everyone is predicting, even though he'll be plenty good in the meantime.
Those are mine. Who makes your list? Which Blazer will surprise fans most and which will leave them scratching their heads and wishing for more? Weigh in below.