The Trail Blazers' core surrounding LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard may be young, but there is talent, and they could surprise a lot people.
Here are the role players the Blazers will depend on.
Nicolas Batum: Normally, a player who signed for $46 million for over four years is not considered a role player, but Batum is poised to have a breakout season and show why he can be a solid No. 3 player on a playoff team. He has shown that capability with nine 3-pointers and 33 points against Denver in early February. He is also regarded as the team's best defender and one of the best in the league. The Blazers' success will largely hinge on his development.
J.J. Hickson: Hickson had a poor season in Sacramento, but emerged as a huge surprise when he was picked up by Portland off waivers. He averaged 15.1 points and 8.3 rebounds per game in his stint with the Blazers. As a backup power forward to Aldridge, Hickson is as solid as as they come.
Wesley Matthews: Matthews can run hot or cold, but he is a very underrated worker. He can defend and score in bunches, and is a legitimate NBA starter.
Meyers Leonard: The rookie will have to grow up fast and could already be the team's best big man. He's athletic, can rebound and can block shots. Scoring won't be a top priority, but he may already be better than most NBA centers.
The wild cards are Luke Babbitt, Elliot Williams, Nolan Smith, Victor Claver and Joel Freeland. They have the talent and will receive every opportunity to succeed.