Finished 50-32, third in Northwest Division, sixth in Western Conference.
First Round: Lost to Phoenix Suns 4-2
Additions and Re-Signings
Luke Babbitt via trade, Armon Johnson via draft, Wesley Matthews via free agency, and Elliot Williams via draft.
Martell Webster via trade and Juwan Howard via free agency.
The Portland Trail Blazers get another chance for a championship run and their injury-prone center, Greg Oden, gets his third chance to prove himself as a premier starting NBA player after coming off of his second straight season-ending ailment.
Oden has played two years since being drafted number one by the Blazers in the 2007 draft and has played a combined 82 games between the two. His latest setback only allowed him to play 21 games last season as he averaged 11 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks in the limited time he did play.
Greg's offensive game could use work, but he has established him very well as a capable defender, rebounder, and shot blocker. Three of his nine rebounds came off the offensive glass as he established himself as a quality rebounder on both sides of the glass, but when it came down to scoring, it appeared that Oden was never fluent with his inside game and saw most of his points off of easy putbacks.
Hopefully for Portland this is the year they'll see Oden finally break out and not succumb to another season, or possibly career, ending injury. Oden was astounding at the collegiate level with Ohio State, but the Blazers have yet to get in on the action.
While the Blazers may have to wait on Oden, they can still rely on their All-Star in Brandon Roy. He will just be entering his fifth year in the league, but has already made three All-Star games and has been considered one of the top five shooting guards in the league at the moment. He experienced a slight drop off in his numbers last season at 22 points on 47-percent shooting to go along with five assists and four rebounds.
Roy also averaged a career low in his three-point percentage at 33%, but also took over three three-pointers per game for this first time in his career. If Brandon were to rely more on his mid-range and driving game, he wouldn't see the drop off that he experienced last season and would have seen an increase in offensive production rather than scoring.
Nevertheless though as Roy will continue to be the offensive and emotional leader of this Portland team despite only being 26-years-old. Prior to the Blazers drafting Roy, they finished the previous season 21-61 and then saw an eleven game increase in the next year before it rose to 41 and then 54 wins for their first post season appearance in six years.
Whether Roy will be able to lead the Blazers any further than the first round will highly be based on the injury status of the key components, including Brandon who only played 65 games last season.
The Trail Blazers also have their strong post presence in LaMarcus Aldridge to rely on offensively as well. Aldridge has shown great strides since being traded to the Blazers on draft day four years ago for Tyrus Thomas. So far, it appears that Portland got the better end of this deal as Aldridge continues to impress and could break into the talk of being a top 10 caliber power forward in this league if he progresses as planned.
The former Texas star averaged 18 points and eight rebounds last season in 78 games. He needs to improve his shot blocking considering he's 6'11" and averaged less than a block per game last season. He had averaged over a block per game in his previous three seasons, but saw a sever drop off last season. If the Blazers want to compete and advance past the second round, they'll need Aldridge to be more of a defensive stopper, as well as a better rebounder.
While the Blazers have veteran leadership in Andre Miller as their starting point guard and Marcus Camby as their back up power forward, they also have a lot of youth to go around with 13 players on the roster 25-years-old or younger. Newly acquired Wesley Matthews has proven to be the most effective of the under 25 players on the team after an impressive rookie season that saw him average nine points on 48-percent shooting.
Rudy Fernandez would be considered the best of this youthful class, but could be on the way out in the near future. Joining Matthews as the best up and comer would be Jerryd Bayless who had a great bounce back season after a disappointing rookie season that saw him average four points on 36% shooting. He jumped up to eight points on 41% shooting last year while getting more playing time as well.
The Blazers added more youth to their team in the draft by trading for Nevada small forward Luke Babbitt who had a very successful collegiate career. In his last season, he averaged 22 points on 50-percent shooting and nine rebounds and could be considered one of the more underrated picks of the draft. Babbitt obviously has a thing for scoring and will come very useful to a team that could use another scorer.
Portland has a team filled with youth and a leader that is hungry for winning, but they'll need their team to remain free of threatening injuries that could end a beneficial players season like in the case of Oden for the past two seasons. They're ready to compete, but a lot of it is going to rely on the ailing big man who will be huge for the Blazers if he can play a full season and contribute as a defender and possible offensive threat.
Projected Starting Lineup
This is part 23 in a 30-day series of previews for each NBA team for the upcoming 2010-2011 season. My profile contains the other teams that I have already previewed.