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Trail Blazers Enter Season With Hope, Issues

Dane Carbaugh of NBCSports tackles the biggest questions facing the team.

NBA: Playoffs-Golden State Warriors at Portland Trail Blazers Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers are headed full-steam through training camp, on their way to pre-season and the start of a new campaign. As Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Jusuf Nurkic prepare for their first full-season together, national pundits are framing expectations for their success...or lack thereof.

Today Dane Carbaugh of previews the Blazers, asking five questions about the team and defining criteria for success. In the process Carbaugh explores the durability of Nurkic, the heavy load on Lillard and McCollum, and whether Portland’s backcourt might be heading for a parting of the ways:

Uppity Blazers fans have been losing their mind asking this question for going on three years now...

But Portland GM Neil Olshey has a soft spot for McCollum, and he needed to give him and Lillard a full two seasons to play together as legitimate, dual superstars after McCollum won MIP in 2016. This season will give us the answer once and for all whether this tandem can be relied upon to lead this team. Again, it could come down to whether this team is fully healthy, but I don’t believe the Blazers would move McCollum until next summer. If management gets full season of healthy play out of this roster and they still are not great on defense, McCollum could be a move that happens.

You can find all five of Carbaugh’s questions and answers here. In the meantime, what’s your opinion? Is this a make-or-break season for the Lillard-McCollum tandem or is it way too soon to speculate such a drastic change?