GDHQNBA15_4pg-Portland Trail Blazers

Portland Trailblazers Gameday HQ

WESTERN CONFERENCE NORTHWEST DIVISION Portland Going into the 2013-14 NBA season, the Portland Trail Blazers weren’t expected to make very much noise in the Western Conference. After winning 34 games the previous season, Portland’s only major personnel change was to replace J.J. Hickson with Robin Lopez at the center position. While Hickson’s lack of defense makes him a poor fit as a starting center, Lopez wasn’t thought of as a particularly impactful player either. What we saw was a Portland team that found its identity. Damian Lillard took a step forward as Portland’s answer to Stephen Curry, a tremendous shooter who became known as a go-to man in the clutch. LaMarcus Aldridge became a dual threat, establishing a quality midrange jump shot to go along with good post play. The result was a team that improved to a 54-28 record and made it to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs. Defense While Portland became one of the most efficient offensive teams in basketball last season, that efficiency didn’t quite carry over to their defense. Portland simply does not have the ingredients necessary to be an elite defensive squad. They don’t have a rim protector who can block shots regularly. They don’t have a defensive specialist on the wing. None of their bench players provided high-level defense either. The biggest liability on defense was ironically the player who likely helped the team the most on offense: Damian Lillard. While Lillard’s clutch shooting propelled the Trail Blazers to a number of victories throughout the season, he was also regularly abused by opposing point guards in the stacked Western Conference. If Lillard wants to take a step forward towards being a genuine superstar, he needs to improve his defense, especially against the pick-and-roll. Outside of Lillard, none of Portland’s starters was particularly bad on defense, but Damian Lillard


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