Record: 41 – 41 (8th in the West)
Season Ended: Swept in the 1st round by the Warriors
Zach Collins (PF/C), Caleb Swanigan (PF)
(No Major additions)
Allen Crabbe (SG/SF)
Projected Starters (Last year averages)
PG: Damian Lillard (27 pts, 5 reb, 6 ast)
SG: CJ McCollom (23 points, 4 reb, 4 ast)
SF: Mo Harkless (10 pts, 4 reb, 1 ast)
PF:Al-Farouq Aminu (9 pts, 7 reb, 2 ast)
C: Jusuf Nurkic (10 pts, 7 reb, 2 ast)
Evan Turner (PG/SF), Caleb Swanigan (PF), Pat Connaughton (SG/SF), Zach Collins (PF/C)
Major Story lines
The Rookies – During the Summer League, and now in the preseason the Blazer rookies have looked great on both ends of the floor. Both are rebounding at a high rate and scoring as well. Coach Terry Stotts has already said that they don’t carry themselves like rookies and that’s the type of statement I’d expect if he’s planning to give them big minutes. The Blazers lacked front court depth last year and it killed them. This year with Nurkic in tow and now these two young studs they’ve corrected that flaw.
“Bad Boy” Blazers – I happen to follow a few Blazers players on twitter and they seem to be embracing a “Bad Boy” persona for the team. Caleb Swanigan embodied this the other night getting into an altercation with Alex Len of the Suns and Stotts backed his guy up saying “Caleb Swanigan isn’t going to back down from anybody, and we expect that from him.” Big Nurk’s father’s exploits are well documented and the Bosnian Beast will also not be backing down. With those two enforcers down low, and the outside tandem of Lillard and McCollom steering the ship this Bad Boy theme could carry this team to new heights.
Mike Predictions (59 – 23) (3rd in the West)
- Lillard back in the All-Star Game – Dame wrote on his first album about feeling slighted by being left off of the 2016 All-Star roster and despite, again, improving statistically he was left off of that roster in 2017 as well. This year, as he carries a much improved Portland team to a home court berth in the playoffs the coaches honor his accomplishments and get him back in.
- Caleb Swanigan Finishes 2nd in ROY voting – Because most of these awards are popularity contests all Lonzo has to do is survive the season to win Rookie of the Year. However, the coaches won’t be able to ignore Biggie Swanigan averaging a near double-double up in Portland. Though he will not be the Day-1 starter it appears I believe Terry Stotts corrects this by December and has Swanigan at the starting 4. He’s shown a consistent stroke from the Mid-range and his pick and pop game can completely change the dynamic of the team. In the past they’ve been too perimeter oriented but that will be changing.
- Blazers make the Western Conference Finals – You may recall I had the Thunder losing in the second round as the 2 seed. Naturally that meant they lost to the 3 and now you know who that is. I think it’s a great series but in the end the Blazers continuity and defense is what wins them the game. Aminu and Harkless do enough to slow down 2 of their perimeter threats and Nurkic holds down the paint keeping Westbrook from penetrating. I’m very excited for this Blazers team. I think they have a special group.
Josh Predictions (48 – 34) (6th in the West)
- Caleb Swanigan leads all rookies in rebounding – Swanigan averaged 8.7 pts and 7.5 rebounds during 18 minutes of play in the preseason. Quality play will earn him more playing time in the regular season and I predict plenty of double-doubles for him. Overall I think he averages double digits in rebounds and leads all rookies