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Tjarks: Blazers G Damian Lillard To Develop Like Brandon Knight, Not Kyrie Irving? previews the Northwest Division, including the Portland Trail Blazers, in advance of the 2012-13 season.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Jonathan Tjarks of offers his 2012-13 Northwest Division preview, which includes a thought on the developmental curve of Portland Trail Blazers rookie guard Damian Lillard.

The Good News: LaMarcus Aldridge, Nic Batum and Wesley Matthews are still an excellent young defensive trio to build around. Dealing a half season of Gerald Wallace for the No. 6 overall pick was a massive heist and Will Barton at No. 40 overall could be a steal as well. With a lot of young talent and cap space going forward, Portland has a chance to rebuild very quickly.

The Bad News: Aldridge is the only player in the Blazers' rotation who can consistently create his own shot. That's going to put a lot of offensive pressure on Damian Lillard, who is more likely to have an adjustment process closer to Brandon Knight than Kyrie Irving as a rookie. Lillard was the best point guard in the draft, but I don't think he'll be an All-Star in the NBA.

Real Talk: Lillard has gotten most of the publicity, but Meyers Leonard is the lottery pick who should excite Portland fans. There aren't many athletic 7'1 250 centers who can shoot 78% from the free-throw line in the NBA. He's still a long way from a finished product, but the Blazers will have the chance to develop him into a Top-5 center over the next few years.

Irving was the 2012 Rookie of the Year, averaging 18.5 points, 5.4 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game for the Cleveland Cavaliers, putting up a PER of 21.49 (No. 26 in the league). Knight averaged 12.8 points, 3.8 assists, and 3.2 rebounds per game for the Detroit Pistons, putting up a PER of 11.79 (No. 283 in the league).

-- Ben Golliver | | Twitter