There are a few key differences between the Portland Trail Blazers and the just-covered Raptors, and very few of them offer support for Rip City’s better odds.
The Blazers were thin annually, buttressing a elite starting five with next to nothing off the bench. Bringing in Chris Kaman and Steve Blake doesn’t feel as a great remedy.
Of course, second-year guard C.J. McCollum needs to see his role increase this year, and he’s got the combo-guard abilities to produce an impact. Head coach Terry Stotts is apparently leaning toward him as a sixth man; McCollum led all Blazers reserves in minutes per game during the preseason.
For all this, it’s hard to grasp why Portland is viewed as a larger name threat than Toronto. The Blazers’ conference is tougher, their bench remains thinner and they ended the year at just 23-19 following a red-hot start. Portland is a good group, but it may not be more than that.
It is going to be around Damian Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge and the rest of the starters to replicate that fifth-ranked offensive rating. If they can’t do this, imagine defense and also an abysmal chair may finally hit among the past year’s biggest surprises having a painful dose of reality.
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