2010-2011 NBA Predictions: Blazers Challenge Lakers for Supremacy in the West

John DostoyevskyContributor IOctober 2, 2010

PHOENIX - MARCH 21:  Brandon Roy #9 of the Portland Trail Blazers puts up a shot during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns during at US Airways Center on March 21, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. The Suns defeated the Trail Blazers 93-87.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Portland Trailblazer are an extremely underrated team. They are overshadowed by the Lakers, Thunder, and Mavericks. This is the year where they make the break from another mundane team to an elite team that challenges Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. The Trailblazers are a very young team, but a very talented young team, but unlike the Thunder they have some veteran leadership that will set them apart.

The Starting Five

Number one is Andre Miller is in his 11th season entering 2010. over the course of those 11 years he has averaged 14 points 4 rebound 1 steal and 7 assists. Now those are not amazing statistics by any means but he is a team player that is good on defense and has shown that if needed he can step up and score 40 points in a game as he aptly demonstrated multiple times last season.

Number two is Brandon Roy who last season averaged 21.5 points 1 steal 5 rebound and 5 assists last season and will continue to improve entering his fifth season. He is not amazing on defense but has improved each year, covering the likes of Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant.

Number three Martell Webster is gone and who replaces him none other than Nicolas Batum. Who is very good on defense and will be one of the keys to the Trailblazers being a dominant team in the years to come. As one of Webster back ups he averaged 10 points 1 assist just under 1 steal and 1 block and in addition to 3 rebounds. His numbers should increase to around 17 points 3 assists 1.63 steals and 1.3 blocks a game in 2010.

Number four Power Forward LaMarcus Aldridge who is a big reason why the Trailblazers are one of the few teams who can compete with the Lakers. Aldridge is a great defensive presence as well as being a low post threat on offense averaging  17.9 points 8 rebounds 2 assists .62 blocks .8 steals a game. The Blocks and rebounds are low but it has been reported that he put on a little size and strength this season meaning he will be more assertive in the post.

Number five Aldridge doesn't really need to be a rebound machine because Greg Oden is. What Aldridge does on the offensive side Oden does on the Defense. Oden has a demanding presence at seven feet 285 pounds. He averages 8.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in just 22 minutes a game. he may only score 11 points but he doesn't even play half the game.

The Bench

The Low post

The Real reason why they are among the best is their bench when it comes to the low post. keeping the big men fresh is a very difficult task guards are much more capable of playing 37 minutes a game running up and down the court but for a big guy its pretty difficult.  The Blazers have amazing depth at that position with Marcus Camby,Joel Przybilla and second year player Jeff Pendergraph. Camby is a veteran who averages 2 blocks 1 steal and 11 rebounds a game in addition to his seven points. Przybilla is another defensive stalwart who averages 8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks a game. Pendergraph is another young player who will learn under Camby and Przybilla.

 The Guards

Wesley Mathews Jerryd Bayless Rudy Fernandez are the main backups for Miller Roy and Batum. all three are very good players. all three are very good 3 point shooters who are excellent at stealing the ball. Bayless will continue to learn under Andre Miller and will continue to get better and in the coming years replace him, but until then he is a good backup who can come off the bench and if miller is injured i can be confident that he will be able to step in and perform well. in addition there is Patrick Mills who will not see much more time than maybe three minutes a game if he's lucky. Then there is Luke Babbit Armon Johnson Elliot Williams and Dante Cunningham. All of which will not see much time all of which are in their first or second season.