NBA Roundtable

2012 Team Preview: Portland Trailblazers

In Season Previews on October 21, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Portland Trailblazers

Starting Lineup

  • PG – Damian Lillard
  • SG – Wes Matthews
  • SF – Nicolas Batum
  • PF – LaMarcus Aldridge
  • C  – Meyers Leonard

A decent starting unit.

LaMarcus Aldridge is the man of the moment. A top five PF/C. A highly skilled offensive player who possesses both a strong post game and a very good jump-shot all the way out to 20+ feet. Shot-creator. You can run your offense through him. A decent but below average rebounder. A solid defensive player at either big man position.

Nicolas Batum was a big money signing in the summer. A very skilled offensive player who can put 15-17ppg on an excellent TS%. A very strong perimeter shooter. Solid slasher and excellent transition threat. A solid and still developing ball-handler and passer. Needs to improve his shot-creation to become a 20ppg threat. A very effective team defender. An elite man-to-man defender at both guard spots but only a good one-on-one defensive player at SF.

Wes Matthews is a hard-nosed role player at shooting guard. Two way player. Good defender. Good well-rounded offensive player who can dribble, pass, shoot all the way out to three and take to the rim and finish. Good glue guy.

Damian Lillard is a rookie. Largely an unknown quantity but expectations are rising after a stellar summer league campaign and some good moments in pre-season games. An excellent shooter and good scorer. Should provide Portland with a good two-man game in the pick and roll with LaMarcus Aldridge especially late in games. Will probably struggle defensively, as most rookie PGs do, this season.

Meyers Leonard is a very raw prospect at center. Shouldn’t be starting. Expected to be a large liability. Shows good size/athleticism, some offensive talent and a willingness to play defense and rebounding. Very good prospect to pickup at #11 in the lottery. Will need time to develop though.


  • PG – Nolan Smith, Ronnie Price
  • SG – Will Barton, Elliott Williams
  • SF – Victor Claver, Sasha Pavlovic, Luke Babbitt
  • PF – JJ Hickson, Jared Jeffries
  • C  – Joel Freeland

A very weak bench.

I like Nolan Smith as a prospect. Reminds me a bit of Eric Snow. Good potential as a defender/rebounder. Very good size for a PG. Could become a good floor general given time. A decent scorer. But for the time-being, Nolan is a major question mark. He struggled more than I expected his rookie year and has a lot to prove. A well below average backup PG.

Ronnie Price is a very good third string PG. An energizer. Plays with great intensity and hustle. A good defender/rebounder. A limited offensive threat. A spark plug.

Will Barton is a very intriguing rookie player. Has good size but no bulk. Very weak physically. Showed great rebounding and possession creation skills in college. Played good defense. Was a productive scorer. Intriguing.

Victor Claver finally comes over after some solid but unexceptional seasons in Spain. Good size and three point range. Physical defender. Sasha Pavlovic gives them an alternative to Claver here. NBA experience but less bulk and rebounding. Babbitt is skilled offensive role player but a very weak defender/rebounder.

JJ Hickson is a dodgy defender. Average rebounder. A limited offensive threat. No jump-shot. Good physical talent. Size, power, quickness, explosiveness. Can create his own shot out of the post against slower bigs but fares better offensively as a center than a PF. A middle of the pack to below average backup PF.

Joel Freeland is an interesting big from Europe. Very good rebounder. Bouncy player. Bit of a lightweight physically. Garbage man offensively. Sticks to his role and completes his tasks well.


A clear lottery team. Mid-lottery.

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