NBA Preview from The Sports Network|
Wednesday, October 30th
(All times Eastern)
Portland Trail Blazers (0-0) at Phoenix Suns (0-0), 10 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Portland Trail Blazers will try to get back to the
playoffs starting Wednesday night when they open the season with a visit to
the Phoenix Suns.
Portland missed the postseason the last two seasons after three straight
first-round exits. But the Blazers won five more games than the season before
and feature an exciting roster of young players.
The most important of which is LaMarcus Aldridge. The two-time All-Star has
posted incredible numbers since he's become the focal point of the franchise,
but it hasn't translated into any postseason appearances.
Last season, the next piece of the puzzle was last season's Rookie of the
Year, Damian Lillard. He was fantastic in his NBA debut season and looks to
build this season with Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, Robin Lopez and some
other great offseason acquisitions.
After finishing with a embarrassingly bad second unit last season, the
Blazers built a bench. They drafted C.J. McCollum, who will miss time thanks
to a broken foot, traded for Thomas Robinson, who is wandering the NBA like a
nomad, signed Mo Williams, Joel Freeland. Meyers Leonard and picked up sharp-
shooter Allen Crabbe.
"This is still a process, but everything we did this offseason was with one
goal in mind. We're going to continue to develop our young guys, it's just not
going to come at the expense of winning games," GM Neil Olshey proclaimed at
Portland's media day. "I think we're talented enough (to make the playoffs)."
Phoenix is not.
They weren't before a week ago either, but on Friday, the Suns traded Marcin
Gortat, who was on the last year of a contract, and a slew of marginal
players, for Emeka Okafor and a 2014 first-round pick.
The move should free up time for this year's first-round pick, Alex Len, to
play more center. It also frees up cap space, gives them possibly four first-
round choices in the incredibly rich 2014 NBA Draft and puts them in a
position to lose more games, which will give the Suns more ping-pong balls in
pursuit of Andrew Wiggins.
"Having potentially four picks in the first round of this upcoming draft is
huge for us," said Phoenix GM Ryan McDonough. "Whether we keep the picks and
draft six first-rounders over the next two years or whether we package some of
them for a great player, we have a lot of flexibility and valuable currency."
The Suns definitely have a plan, but the product on the floor this season is
going to be bad.
First-year head coach Jeff Hornacek will have a rough go of it, but his team
will be anchored by his backcourt of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. The latter
came over in a trade with the Los Angeles Clippers and most expect him to post
big numbers now that he'll be outside the shadow of Chris Paul.
The Suns won two of three last season versus Portland and have captured four
straight against the Blazers in Arizona.
10/30 10:27:15 ET