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Jaynes: Blazers' Improvement Heavily Depends On Meyers Leonard, Other Youngsters

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One Portland-area writer offers some thoughts on the Portland Trail Blazers' 2013 offseason.

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Dwight Jaynes of CSNNW.com offers some thoughts on the Portland Trail Blazers' 2013 offseason.

Last season Portland had two glaring weaknesses: Interior defense and the bench. Have these been dealt with? Yes and no. Or rather, no and yes. The addition of Robin Lopez at center certainly is a defensive upgrade over JJ Hickson. But at the same time, Lopez will never be confused with Tyson Chandler or Omer Asik. His New Orleans team last season was worse on defense than the Trail Blazers. And after the addition of Lopez, there's not much defensive improvement in terms of personnel. Any improvement in that area must come from young players gaining experience and the coaching staff. The bench? Well, it's improved, but how could it not be? Last season's team was historically bad off the bench and this team is better. But it's very inexperienced.

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I am more convinced than ever that if the Trail Blazers are really going to make a big jump this season that improvement rests on the broad shoulders of Meyers Leonard. When you look at him, athletically, next to Lopez you see a much superior specimen. Leonard can run, jump, catch and shoot with range. He just has to learn how to play. If he does, he'll push Lopez to the bench and backup minutes in a big-time hurry. I believe this team's future, in fact, may be all about Leonard. The only way this franchise is going to come up with a big-time center is to draft one -- or develop one. Leonard has a chance to be that guy. But he's far enough from that level now that I'm not yet willing to say it's going to happen.

Dave got a shout-out in this one too.

PS Thanks to cavejunctionblazer in the FanShots.

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