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Blazers Embracing Championship Mentality in 2019-20 Season

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Jason Quick of The Athletic details the Blazers’ changed mindset coming into the season.

NBA: Preseason-Denver Nuggets at Portland Trail Blazers Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers came within sniffing distance of the Finals and Larry O’Brien trophy last season. As Jason Quick of The Athletic (subscription req.) relays, the team isn’t satisfied with just coming close to the trophy. The entire organization — from Neil Olshey and Terry Stotts, to Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum — is embracing the team’s roster as a possible contender:

“They needed to hear from the leadership of the organization that this isn’t just, ‘Let’s get through 82 games and hopefully make the playoffs,”‘ Olshey said. “Why they came here needed to be validated by the decision makers that this is the aspirations for the team.”

What the Blazers have been selling this summer got through to newcomer and veteran Kent Bazemore:

“Everything the guys were saying — Neil, Coach, Dame — it aligned with me,” Bazemore said. “It was everything I believe in, everything I’m about. It was championship habits, championship mentality, championship effort. I couldn’t wait to get into the gym.”

Lillard, who has constantly stated his goal to win a championship, is challenging the team to test him and McCollum as the leaders:

“In practice, if I’m not doing something at the level it needs to be done at, who is going to say something to me?” Lillard said he asked his teammates. “Not CJ, because CJ is always going to say something to me. Who is going to challenge me? Who here is willing to do that? Who is willing to make me uncomfortable?”

There’s many more nuggets about the Blazers’ title hopes, like an exchange between former champion Pau Gasol and Lillard, in Quick’s story, which you can read here (subscription req.)