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Ringer: Portland’s Success Rides on Lillard

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The Ringer gives its best case and worse case for Portland.

Portland Trail Blazers v New Orleans Pelicans - Game Three Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

John Gonzalez of The Ringer ranked the Portland Trail Blazers in at number fourteen in his preseason tally of 30 NBA teams. He also gave a best case and worst case for Portland going into the year.

The best case has a hard ceiling, with acknowledgement that the Trail Blazers simply do not have the firepower to get past the Houston Rockets or the Golden State Warriors unless injuries play a large factor.

There’s only so much you can do in the regular season with Golden State and Houston in the mix. Winning a round or two in the playoffs would represent the best possible outcome. Not getting swept again in the first round would be a good start.

Despite Damian Lillard’s stellar performance from last season, Gonzalez predicated the teams success on the Blazers star taking his numbers even higher, citing Portland’s low offensive rating last season.

By all accounts, it was his best season as a pro. And yet he could probably still do more. As a team, the Blazers finished 16th in offensive rating. What we’ve learned from the Blazers in the past is that the complementary pieces can’t be counted on to consistently contribute.

The worst case is a familiar tale of the team bottoming out, with President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey offloading either Lillard or CJ McCollum.