The Portland Trailblazers have been cursed for the last two seasons.
The team has suffered due to injuries, but have prevailed to somehow get into the playoffs both seasons.
This year was supposed to be Portland's year.
Many believed Portland's youth and athleticism would get them past the Dallas Mavericks, but they were wrong.
Dallas' experience was enough to lift them past the young Trailblazers, Portland still has some learning and adjusting to do before they can be real contenders, and not just pretenders.
This year, Wesley Matthews went from being an undrafted rookie who averaged nine points per game to becoming a key player on a playoff team averaging about 16 points per game.
Scary thing is, there's still room for improvement.
Matthews is currently a streaky shooter. Should he improve the consistency on his jumper, he can become a 20 points per game scorer.
He already knows how to take it to the rim, get to the line, and spot up for long balls.
One way he can improve his game is being able to create for himself and for his teammates.
Or if he added a post up game. Imagine Matthews with a Kobe-like turnaround jump shot.
That would be money in the bank every time down the floor.
Portland has a collection of some of the best perimeter defenders in the league.
Gerald Wallace, Nicolas Batum, and Wesley Matthews are all top 10 defenders at their positions.
Also, Portland has the advantage of height, with Marcus Camby and LaMarcus Aldridge, the always underrated defender.
To top off all the defensive talent, Portland plays at a slow pace, keeping opponents possessions low, and coach Nate McMillan is a defensive minded coach.
Throw those all into a pot, and you have possibly the best defensive lineup in the league.
As I've said many times before, Andre Miller is a great player.
He's keeping his statistics in place, dishing out assists left and right and scoring when he needs to.
One statistic is on the rise, and it's not a positive thing.
Although he looks like he'll keep going forever, Miller is getting old.
He's kept himself in good shape and is the symbol of an Iron-Man in the league, but everyone's time comes. Some people's time is sooner, while others, like Miller, enjoy long careers.
One option Portland has is trading for a younger point guard, or signing one.
I believe trading for one is the better way to go.
It was rumored before that Portland was seeking a trade for Johnny Flynn, so it seems the organization thinks it makes sense also.
Marcus Camby is one of my favorite Blazers. I just wanted to get that clear.
Even though I am in love with Camby's ability to swat shots and pull down rebounds at a consistent rate for someone who is way past their prime, I see this past post season as his late with Portland.
Portland's probably going to be looking for either a young point guard or center, or maybe another shooter for the team.
Camby is an amazing player for a veteran, and his presence in a locker room is enough for a team to want him.
He gives his all night in and night out, but that hasn't put Portland over the hump.
So long Camby, we'll miss you.
Many people believe Portland has given up on Greg Oden.
Here's a thought for all of you who make up fake comments about them being "done" with Oden.
Rich Cho has stated already that they intend to offer him the $8.8 million qualifying offer, which means he will be a RFA so that Portland can match any offer given to him.
Here's another thought for you, why give up on something you've spent so much money on?
Let's say you had a car, which was supposed to be the best car on the market. You get it, and it brakes down three times in four years. Are you just going to give it away?
Same case with Oden.
I see Oden staying in a Trailblazer uniform for a while.
What is there to say about this guy.
He's one of the team's best defenders.
He's the most athletic guy on the team not named Gerald Wallace.
He's possibly the best shooter on the team.
He rebounds at a good rate.
Oh, and he can take it to the whole and throw it down on the break.
Batum is a borderline star in my opinion. Yes, his numbers are nowhere close to a star's numbers, but I think he's only missing two ingredients to becoming a star.
First, Batum should work on improving his shot creation. He needs to be able to create for himself and not rely on teammates finding him open.
To do that, he needs to improve his ball handling.
Second, he should find a consistent post game. Batum is tall and long, and he has good quickness and speed.
All he needs to do is hit the gym a little more and learn some moves from teammate LaMarcus Aldridge, and he can become a good second option on a championship team.
Aldridge proved this year that he can be a legitimate leader for a team.
His post game became a nightmare for teams to guard, and add to that his reliable jumper, and few teams could contain him.
He worked on his defense as well, averaging over a block and over a steal per game.
This offseason, Aldridge should work on adding a few more moves to his post game to become a little less predictive, add maybe another five to ten pounds, unless it affects his explosiveness, and add a little more consistency to his outside game.
One other factor Aldridge should work on is his ball-handling and quickness with the ball, so that he can take bigger defenders off the dribble.
All of these should make Aldridge a lock for an All-Star spot, a spot that he was unfairly deprived of this year, being the year's biggest snub.
A healthy Greg Oden is a scary Greg Oden.
Not only does he stand seven feet high, but he's stronger, faster, and more athletic than most big men in the league.
Add to his size and athleticism his amazing shot blocking prowess, and his above average post game, and he can become a beast in no time.
Something many forget is that Oden is only 22 years old.
He was predicted the next Shaq, and that label needs to be earned.
In only 23 minutes of action per game last year, Oden averaged 12 ppg, almost nine rpg, and over two bpg.
He's also reliable from the line, unlike some (I'm looking at you Dwight Howard), hitting more than 75 percent of his foul shots.
Oden just needs some good luck to stay healthy, and he should be dominating in no time.
Chris Paul isn't satisfied with his team.
He wants real teammates who are capable of producing.
Portland needs to find a way to get rid of Roy. Yes he is a leader for the team, but his contract is way too big for the team, and he isn't contributing like the Roy of old.
No matter what others say, Roy is done. His surgeon himself said that if Portland is lucky, they will get another one or two years of play out of him. That doesn't necessarily mean productive play.
Portland can offer a package of Roy, first round picks, Fernandez, cash considerations and Camby for Paul.
Should Rich Cho pull off this miracle, Portland should be set with one of the best line ups in the league.
Paul won't be missing West with Aldridge, who is basically West times two. He'll also have Oden, Batum, Matthews, and Wallace to help him on his quest to a title.
Getting rid of Roy will be a sad event indeed, but it will also allow the team to play more fast paced, something I've been suggesting for quite a while now due to their athleticism.
Should these moves be made, Portland has a good shot at a title.
It would take another year of blending together and building chemistry, but they should finally be able to make it out of the first round next season.
I see them making the WCF, but I see them falling in seven games in a hard fought series.
Portland would be a scary team, and a team that many should watch out for for years to come.
This is a bold statement indeed, but very possible.