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Can an overhauled bench get them in the playoffs? Portland Trailblazers Season Preview

Starting five: PG Damian Lillard, SG Wesley Matthews, SF Nicolas Batum, PF LaMarcus Aldridge, C Robin Lopez
Key bench players: PF Thomas Robinson, PG CJ McCollum (10th overall pick), SF Dorrell Wright, PG Mo Williams, SG Allen Crabbe (31st overall pick), C Meyers Leonard
Offseason additions: Thomas Robinson (from Houston for two second round draft picks), CJ McCollum, Allen Crabbe, Mo Williams, Dorrell Wright, Earl Watson
Offseason subtractions: PF JJ Hickson, PG Eric Maynor, G/F Sasha Pavlovic
FACT OR FICTION: GM Neil Olshey upgraded his team’s bench enough to make the Trailblazers a playoff team.
FACT. Last season, only one Portland reserve averaged more than six points, four rebounds or four assists off the bench. That guy was Eric Maynor, who dropped a very modest 6.9 ppg and 4 apg. The problem was that he only played in 27 games after being traded to the PDX from Oklahoma City.

In other words? The Trailblazers bench was putrid last season. They were undoubtedly worst reserve unit in the league, and more than likely the reason why the Trailblazers missed the playoffs. Guys like Wil Barton, Victor Claver, Luke Babbit and rookie Meyers Leonard couldn’t do anything beneath an excellent starting five, which created an easy offseason directive for GM Olshey.
In a major upgrading project, the Portland front office went out and acquired essentially an all-new reserve unit. This included dealing for 2012 number 5 overall draft pick Robinson and rookie Allen Crabbe (in two different deals), as well as signing Mo Williams and Dorrell Wright and drafting Lehigh scoring machine McCollum. Along with now second year big man Leonard, this overhauled bench should, at least in name, be able to produce for the Blazers. Williams and Wright can be sieves defensively, but at the very least should be able to shoot the lights out, with a .386 and .367 three-point percentages, respectively. Robinson should be able to fill some of the gaps Wright and Williams can’t by rebounding and playing defense off the bench, which is what he was drafted for in the first place. Crabbe and McCollum were recruited to score big, which is exactly what both did in college.… Read more...

Which Blazer Will Get Hurt Next? – Portland Trailblazers Season Preview

Starting Five: PG Damian Lilliard, SG Wesley Matthews, SF Nic Batum, PF LaMarcus Aldridge, C Meyers Leonard

Key Bench Players: PG Nolan Smith, PG Ronnie Price, PF JJ Hickson, C Joel Freeland

Notable offseason additions: PG Damian Lilliard (6th overall pick), C Meyers Leonard (11th overall pick), PG Ronnie Price

Offseason subtractions: PG Raymond Felton, G Jamal Crawford, PG Jonny Flynn, PF Kurt Thomas

When I say “Portland Trailblazers”, what’s the first thing you think of? No, it’s not a nearly 20 year playoff streak, nor it is their 1977 title on the rapidly degenerating back of Bill Walton. It’s not even the stain of the disgraceful “Jail Blazers” of the late 90’s/early 00’s, or playoff collapse against the Lakers in the 2000 Western Conference Finals. No, even worse than that – the word most associated with the Blazers these days is “injuries”.

Greg Oden, Brandon Roy, Joel Przybilla, even coach NateMcMillan wasn’ t exempt from the Ghost of the Jail Blazers, a curse that seemed to grab hold of Portland’s only major sport franchise by the throat, tendons and any other body part that assists in locomotion. What should be a perennial contender behind the legs of Oden and Roy, instead is in the midst of rebuilding about a decade sooner than they thought they would be at this point.
We here at MAMBINO know we’re not the most sensitive people on MAMBINO. Between the Ugly NBA and MLB player power rankings, and our merciless deconstructions of franchises whose fans have nothing left to cheer for, we know that this  isn’t the blog you go to for a digital pat on the back. Well, unless you’re a Lakers fan. Then bring some extra pants, because we’re givi