2007 Portland Trail Blazers Season Preview
Third-year coach Nate McMillian has a lot of young talent to coach in what is a highly competitive division in a very tough conference. Can Portland be a contender, which is something that they haven’t done since 2003? In the front office, Portland has a new GM in Kevin Pritchard. Pritchard has a reputation for having a fine basketball mind and work ethic. He was the man behind Portland’s highly successful 2007 draft.
Ohio State’s Greg Oden, the number one pick in this year’s draft, is a center with some fine defensive skills and raw potential in terms of scoring and playing in the NBA. Oden is only 19 years old, which means no matter how athletic he is it’s going to take some time for him to mature and become a full-fledged NBA player. That time was recently elongated as Oden underwent arthroscopic and microfracture surgery for cartilage damage in his right knee. He will be out for six to 12 months. Upfront, perhaps second-year man LaMarcus Aldridge (.503 FG%, .000 3P%, .722 FT%, 5.0 RPG, 0.4 APG, 9.0 PPG) and third-year player Channng Frye (.433 FG%, .167 3P%, .787 FT%, 5.5 RPG, 0.9 APG, 9.5 PPG) can hold the fort. Center Joel Przybilla (.423 FG%, .282 3P%, .808 FT%, 1.4 RPG, 3.3 APG, 3.7 PPG), who was deemed to be the backup, may need to step-up. At the small forward position, Travis Outlaw (.434 FG%, .270 3P%, .790 FT%, 3.2 RPG, 0.8 APG, 9.6 PPG), now starting his fifth season, must finally start to impress.
At point guard, Jarrett Jack (.454 FG%, .350 3P%, .871 FT%, 2.6 RPG, 5.3 APG, 12.0 PPG) is entering his third season. Despite the fact that Jack showed fine improvement, the Blazers drafted two new point guards—Taurean Green and Petteri Koponen. Shooting guard Brandon Roy (.456 FG%, .377 3P%, .838 FT%, 4.4 RPG, 4.0 APG, 16.8 PPG), last year’s rookie of the year, looks to be a major force this season.
The Portland Trail Blazers are vastly improved and yet fans should not expect a playoff berth this season despite the fact that it is a possibility. The Trailblazer rookies can certainly make a difference but how fast can they help the club get to the post-season? Greatness could be down the road as long as the rookies are willing to work and learn and can say healthy.