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Portland Trail Blazers 2014-15 Season Preview: National Perception

The Blazer's Edge 2014-15 Portland Trail Blazers season preview continues as contributor Scott Horlbeck breaks down the team's national perception.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Tirico: "Nine-tenths left, a three wins the series. It's Lillard! He got the shot off!
14 YEARS!!!"

If you ask me, the Blazers national perception changed after that shot. 
Before that shot, the Blazers hadn't made it out of the first round of the playoffs since 
2000. Before that shot, the Blazers didn't have a household name. Before that shot, the 
Blazers didn't have a moment.

In a much broader sense, Damian Lillard changed the national perception of the 
In 2013,  LaMarcus Aldridge averaged 21.1 points per game and a career-high 9.1 
rebounds per game -- his best season to date, and among the best seasons of any power 
forward in the league. In the 2013 NBA GM Survey, Aldridge received the fourth most 
votes in the category of "Best Power Forward" -- 6.9%.

In 2014, Aldridge averaged 23.2 points per game and 11.1 rebounds per game. In this 
year's NBA GM Survey, Aldridge, along with Blake Griffin, received the most votes of 
any power forward in the category of "Best Power Forward" -- 25%.

Aldridge had a monster year in 2013, but the idea of him being the best power forward in 
the league seemed a bit far-fetched. Heading into this year, it's all but the consensus 
among NBA general managers where Aldridge ranks amongst his low post peers. In fact, 
the Aldridge "best power forward" debate has even picked up some steam within the 
NBA blogosphere.

So what changed? Why such a drastic shift in recognition and acknowledgement? 

Heading into the 2013-2014 NBA Season, the Blazers were granted six nationally 
televised games (ESPN, TNT, ABC).

This season, 16. 

The 2012-2013 median resale price for a Blazers ticket was $87.79. Last season's median 
resale ticket price was $92.78.

This season? $111.66. A 20% increase from last year, and a 27% increase from two years 

It could be a lot of different things, it could be a few singular things, but if you ask me, 
the increased recognition for Aldridge, the increase in ticket prices, the increase in 
nationally televised games -- it's because of Lillard.

He's a star in the making and he's shining a light on everything around him (god that 
was cheesy...).

-- Scott Horlbeck