As a new season arrives, it's time to revisit the age-old debate: Expectations. One year ago, Robin Lopez was the primary offseason acquisition, and with a weak bench, expectations were low. After a 22-4 start and an eventual second-round playoff appearance, all future expectations were hit with a big red "reset" button.
Over the summer, Blazers GM Neil Olshey shored up the bench with the addition of two solid players, Chris Kaman and Steve Blake. The Blazers also surely hoping for a bounce-back season from Dorell Wright, and breakout seasons from their youngsters, CJ McCollum, Will Barton, Meyers Leonard and Thomas Robinson.
So, Blazer's Edge tosses out the question to you, the reader:
Barring unforeseen circumstances, what result should be considered a successful season for the 2014-15 Blazers team, and why?
Here are the likeliest choices:
Lottery pick. For some, the best option is to tank for something better. Alternatively, there will always be some fans who are simply happy to watch the Blazers play, and are not concerned if the season ends in a lottery visit. Just enjoying Blazer Basketball is already a successful season.
Making the playoffs. The West is as competitive as ever. The usual teams are near the top. Dallas has reloaded for another run. Memphis expects to have a healthy Marc Gasol all season. And teams previously outside the playoffs such as the Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans will attempt to make a run. Despite a second-round appearance in 2014, simply making the playoffs can easily be considered a successful season.
Losing a competitive first-round series. Thanks to Damian Lillard's heroics, the Blazers were the only Western Conference team to reach the second round in less than seven games. Even the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs went seven. There are no easy opponents in the West Playoffs. Losing a close, competitive first-round series against a quality opponent would not necessarily be a step back for the Blazers. It would simply be life in the West.
Reaching the Second Round. At first glance, this may seem like "more of the same, another second-round appearance." In the past 10 years, no Western team has made consecutive appearances in the second round without also reaching the Conference Finals. Reaching the semifinals once can be a fluke; doing so in consecutive seasons is confirmation you're legitimate. While it would be nice for a second-round series to be more competitive than last season, another appearance is already a sign of success.
Reaching the Conference Finals. The Blazers haven't reached the Conference Finals since 2000. Surviving as one of the last four teams in left in the NBA playoffs is a rare honor for the majority of teams.
Reaching the NBA Finals. Playing at least two Finals games in Portland for the first time since 1992? Good luck getting those tickets.
Winning the NBA Finals. Any comment here would require causing a level of jinxing that would be inappropriate.
Vote for your choice, then justify your vote in the comments!