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Howard-Cooper: Blazers Capable Of Better Season In 2012-13

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One national writer previews the Portland Trail Blazers' 2012-13 season.

Christian Petersen - Getty Images

Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com gives his 2012-13 season preview for the Portland Trail Blazers.

With a roster that will include six players in their first or second year, and with most of the six at the very least possibilities for the rotation, the winning percentage may be worse than in 2011-12, but that doesn't mean the season will be worse. It won't be. (If Aldridge gets hurt, we never had this talk.)

That's the encouraging October perspective, that this is clearly the road back and a lot of the potholes have already been fixed. Lillard, though a scoring point guard in college who needs to prove he can be a sound distributor, is a strong preseason candidate for Rookie of the Year. Leonard, while probably a year and maybe two away, is regarded around the league as an athletic center with a bright future. Aldridge is coming off an All-Star campaign. Starting shooting guard Wesley Matthews took the unusual step of playing in summer league heading into his fourth season because he wanted to set a leadership tone and help push away the bad chemistry from 2011-12. Batum may never live up to the contract worth a reported $45 million over four years -- that's star-player money -- but can still be an impact small forward as a defender and 3-point threat.

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter