There are a couple of key differences between the Portland Trail Blazers and the just-covered Raptors, and hardly any of them provide aid for Rip City’s greater chances.
The Blazers were thin last year, buttressing an elite beginning five with next to nothing off the bench. Bringing in Chris Kaman and Steve Blake doesn’t feel as a remedy.
Of course, second-year guard C.J. McCollum should see his role increase this season, and he has the combo-guard abilities to produce an effect. Head coach Terry Stotts seems to be leaning toward him as a sixth man; McCollum led all Blazers reservations in minutes per game during the preseason.
For all that, it is hard to grasp why Portland is viewed as a bigger title hazard than Toronto. The Blazers’ convention is harder, their seat remains thinner and they finished the year at only 23-19 following a start. Portland is a good group, but it might not be more than that.
It is going to be up to Damian Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge and the rest of the starters to duplicate that fifth-ranked offensive evaluation. If they can’t do that, imagine defense and also an abysmal bench may ultimately hit one of last year’s biggest surprises with a painful dose of truth.
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