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ESPN.com Picks the Blazers 4th in Western Conference

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The four-letter network picks the Portland Trail Blazers 4th in the Western Conference. Are they legitimate contenders?

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN.com has released projections for the Western Conference in the 2014-15 season. Their board lists the Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, and Los Angeles Clippers ahead of the Portland Trail Blazers, though Portland finishes with a respectable 51-31 record.

The discussion gets more interesting when watching the accompanying video, featuring TrueHoop Network's Henry Abbott and David Thorpe. They spend much of their time talking Thunder vs. Spurs but at the 1:23 mark they speculate on championship contenders. Abbott names the Thunder, Spurs, Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Chicago Bulls as the core group. To them Thorpe adds the Washington Wizards and Miami Heat in the East. He gushes over the Memphis Grizzlies and their off-season moves, naming them as the non-obvious team to watch in the West. Other than a token nod to Abbott's Portland roots, the Blazers aren't mentioned further.

What do you think of the predictions? Could the Blazers catch any of the three teams ahead of them? Could the Grizzlies, Mavericks, Warriors, or Rockets (or even Suns, who aren't projected Top-8) catch Portland? Should the Blazers have been named possible contenders?

Debate below.

Hat tip to  baller_34752 for getting this up in the Fanshots.

--Dave blazersub@gmail.com / @DaveDeckard