caseyholdahl

Sep 09

Monday Links: An Early Mock Draft From Chad Ford, Lillard Q&A's And Predictions

By caseyholdahl

-- The hype for the 2014 NBA Draft is so pervasive that ESPN.com's Chad Ford has already put together a mock draft despite the fact that those picks will be made almost a year from now. Ford uses the ESPN Summer Forecast projections to set the order and subsequently has the Trail Blazers selecting Kentucky sophomore center Willie Cauley-Stein with the 12th pick.
Trail Blazers' forecasted record: 38-44** | 0.7 percent to win lottery)

Analysis: The Blazers actually are trying to make the playoffs in a very crowded Western Conference. But if they don't make the playoffs, the draft is the upside. Cauley-Stein hasn't even begun to realize his potential. He was very raw at Kentucky last year, but when he got it going, everyone could easily see great things to come. The Blazers don't really need another center, but Cauley-Stein's versatility might allow him to backup LaMarcus Aldridge.
Ford makes sure to note at the end of the piece that Portland's first-round pick will go to Charlotte if the Trail Blazers end up picking between 13 and 30.

-- Damian Lillard talks to CBS Sports about a range of topics, including how he sets expectations.
Q: You've pretty much never had what people would consider "reasonable" or "moderate" expectations for yourself. You've come out and talked about wanting to be a All-Star, be one of the best players in the league. Is that something that comes from inside you, or have there been things that have pushed you?

A: I think it's always been internal. I always had high expectations for myself. If I go to a baseball field, if I'm playing with Major League Baseball players, I expect to play well. It comes from my family, too. They always made me believe it. Anytime I was playing basketball or football, they were telling me I belong out there. I started to take that attitude out there. Why not be an All-Star? I believe it can happen. As long as I believe it, it doesn't matter what anyone else says.
-- ESPN and Disney held an event in Bristol, Conn. to announce a partnership with the Special Olympics and Lillard was there to participate in various sporting events with Special Olympics athletes as part of the celebration. He talked with The Source about his relationship with Special Olympics.
How did you get involved with the Special Olympics?

I was asked to be an ambassador and I was all for it. I had experience with it in college. I really enjoyed myself being a part of it. I realized how much of an impact I had on them and just how much they have the same abilities that we have. When they told me I was excited about, I’m happy to be apart of it.

Why do you think you were chosen to be an ambassador for the Special Olympics?

It probably has something to do with who I am, but I think it also has a lot to do with my experience with it. I did the game at All-Star weekend and I had a lot of fun. I think that has as much to do with it than anything.
-- Dave Deckard at Blazersedge posted his 2013-14 win/loss prediction, which seems reasonable enough.
The Blazers won 33 games last year.  If things go wrong I'd put them in the 37-38 range this year.  If things go right I'm guessing 41-42.  So I'm going with a final prediction of 38-40 wins.  That's as narrow as I get.

Plenty of people are going to forecast that win total as low, thinking the improvements over the summer will boost the team into the mid-40's.  45 wins would mean a 12-game increase over last season.  47 or 48 would be 14-15.  That's a huge ask given the level of this summer's acquisitions.
I'm going to hold off on any predictions until at least midway through training camp. It's not likely to improve the accuracy of my guess, but I figure it can't hurt.

-- Former Trailblazers.com intern Mike Acker, writing for Sheridan Hoops, picks five things to watch for from the Trail Blazers this season.
2. An actual starting center. Robin Lopez is not an outstanding scoring center. He’s not even an outstanding center. What he is, though, is a center: an actual NBA-caliber starting center. He plays defense, he rebounds, he plays defense and he rebounds.

The Blazers will get plenty of scoring from Lillard, Aldridge and Batum. What they needed last season – what killed them in every single one of their 82 games – was somebody who could stop opponents from getting at-will layups. J.J. Hickson couldn’t do it; the combination of Meyers Leonard and Joel Freeland couldn’t do it. Lopez will do it. Blazer fans should know this because he did it to Portland last season with New Orleans.

And defense is just part of the package. Lopez is a rebounder. Portland hasn’t had a real rebounder in at least two seasons. The Blazers won’t be the worst paint-defense team in the league this season; they won’t give up a ridiculous number of offensive rebounds, either. Blazer fans will have Lopez to thank for that.
-- This past weekend, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Eddie Doucette was awarded the Curt Gowdy Award for Electronic Media by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. It's the same award that Bill Schonely was awarded last year.

You can watch Doucette's acceptance speech below.


-- The Trail Blazers and Banfield Pet Hospitals have teamed up over the last few seasons to renovate dogs parks in the Portland area, with the most recent park, Sacajawea in Northeast Portland, getting an upgrade this weekend.
A group of about 30 volunteers from the Blazers, Banfield, and the community planted wildflower and grass seeds and spread new “paw-friendly” cedar chips at Sacajawea Park.

They also added water spigots, a new water drainage system and a picnic table to the 4.9-acre off-leash park.

The renovations are part of a three-year-old partnership between Banfield and the Trail Blazers.

Fans of the basketball team voted for one of three Portland Parks & Recreation dog parks to get a park makeover. Sacajawea Park was the clear winner, taking 71 percent of the 11,105 votes.

11 Comments

  1. I'd be very surprised if we actually kept our pick this year. I see us making the playoffs and if by chance we don't, I think we'll finish right at the cusp at 13th or 14th, giving Charlotte the pick owned in the Gerald Wallace trade.

    by DHawes22 on 9/9/2013 12:49 PM
  2. Agreed. Unless we run into significant injury issues this season, there's no way I see us finishing with the 12th-worst record.

    by caseyholdahl on 9/9/2013 12:53 PM
  3. Dave Decker from BE is always on the pessimistic side of things, so him estimating around 38-40 wins is going to be about 7-10 low. I guessed about 46, which was the same number Damian came out with. Dave says "That's a huge ask given the level of this summer's acquisitions." What he's not accounting for is the improved play of a young team + the improved play of the team as a whole. Since the Blazers now have a legit bench, the starters will be able to play better (and fewer) minutes.

    by dunkonyerhed on 9/9/2013 2:29 PM
  4. I actually agree with Dave from BE... I don't think we'll see that drastic of an improvement, but I think it will still be enough to lose our draft pick. I would really hate to miss the playoffs and get the 14th or 13th seed and still lose our draft pick. There's enough potential in some teams that there's a possibility we could fall to the 12th pick, but nothing's for certain with teams like Detroit, Cleveland, Dallas, LAL, New Orleans, Minnesota, and Washington (to name a few), having questions surrounding them as the seasons starts.

    by chris.barnes on 9/9/2013 5:49 PM
  5. Hey dunkonyerhed, how is it going?
    It is very hard to predict wins and losses at this time of the year, not only because of our new players not having time to gel yet, but because many other teams has gotten better, and worst of course, but IMO, your guess is as good as any.

    My main thought for the year is
    1. learn to win on the road.
    2. not to take below 500 teams lightly, but play them with the same intensity as we do the teams above 500, and remember if we stay above 500 teams won't take us as lightly.
    3. play more consistently on offense. 3's are great, but do we want to live or die by them?
    4. Of course play better team D, and rebound better.
    5 keep the whole bugaboo of injuries down by playing the bench more and less time on the floor for injured players.

    So if we can improve considerably in those departments, be competitive in every game, the wins will take care of themselves. My guess is around .500, maybe 42 to 44.

    by Hg on 9/9/2013 5:57 PM
  6. Robin Lopez, Mo Williams, and Dorell Wright aren't 'sexy' acquisitions, but they will fill some much needed voids we had last year which were: Inside paint protector, scoring off the bench, capable backup point guard. Throw in the youth and potential of CJ McCollum and Thomas Robinson and you have a completely different squad.

    Remember, we had 33 wins heading into April last year. Even if we had a halfway decent bench last season, we win 5-6 of our last 13, which is nearing 40 wins in itself. Add in the aforementioned additions and I think 46 wins is on the low side of the projections.

    I wouldn't be surprised to see this bunch win 50 games (and I'm more of a pessimist), BUT it all starts on defense. It has to.

    by DHawes22 on 9/9/2013 7:14 PM
  7. Hg;
    Your prediction surprised me. You have always proclaimed yourself the ultimate homer. 42 to 44 seems on the low side coming out of your camp. There is something to be said for keeping expectations in check. Inflated expectations can lead to a disappointing end. You may be a bit low but in the ball park.
    I feel the Blazers will start the season hot. If they can hold their home court and not string multiple losses together, they may surpass expectations.
    Stotts has to be on his game. He has chess pieces to play with.

    by Divotking on 9/9/2013 7:37 PM
  8. DHawes: I agree that while not big name signings, the guys we added fit our system and help fill gaps in our team. The thing that worries me is while guys like McCollum, Robinson, Crabbe, and Leonard all have great potential, that's all it is so far... potential. We don't know what we're going to get from these guys this season. They could be great surprises or disappointments. Same with Williams, Wright, and Lopez. While they've got more experience and WIlliams seems pretty consistent, you just never know how they'll fit in with the system or if they'll have an off season. So while we have the potential to win 50 games, I think the west is competitive enough that that's a long shot with all the question marks about the amount of talent we'll be able to immediately put on the court this season. Potential is great, but potential is long-term. It doesn't win us 50+ games this coming season.

    by chris.barnes on 9/9/2013 10:09 PM
  9. Hey Divotking: I am still a great homer, ending above 500 after the last 2 years would be great in my book. Remember most of my post is about playing the game and being consistent more than about winning.

    IMO, chris.barnes hit the nail on the head. although we have more experience, more potential and more leadership with our roster this year, we are also new to each other, as I have seen potential in the past fizzle and dry up by all star break. So as chris says potential doesn't win games, we don't know about injuries, we don't know if the players are going to settle for mostly 3pters to bale them out because they don't want to bump and grind. And most of all, we almost have to factor in INJURIES in Portland.

    I think 50 games is very reasonable as I did in the past, but again as Chris said, it is mostly potential.

    I will try not to knock Mo Williams, as he is now a Blazer and part of the team, but IMO, James gave him a false leadership role, without James he has been mostly mediocre, don't get me wrong, mediocre isn't bad, but crying about playing time, being somewhat selfish because of false greatness can lead to disaster. I have great hope in T-Rob, but hope is like potential, it doesn't win games. The big knock on T Rob is he doesn't remember the play and too often goes into ISO. He is young he has had his share of adversity in the NBA in one year so I am looking for hard work and dedication, and that will help his potential. Lopez will help our D and rebounding tremendously, but so did Joels, but we need an offensive threat from him also to keep the opponents honest. I am not talking just putbacks, but also running plays through him to keep the heat off of LaMarcus.

    Oh, I could go on and on about what could be, what should be, but it is all speculation and until I see them play, I can't be too high on wins, but also, I haven't seen the other teams play. I love what we have in our team and the direction we are going, but we have just loaded the bus and just starting on the journey that may have many pitfalls in it. So just above 500 would be a great year for me, if they play the game.

    by Hg on 9/10/2013 5:47 AM
  10. Who was our best bench player last year? Meyers Leonard, Will Barton? They are now the 5th or 6th best players coming off the bench. And with the potential they both have, its not unrealistic to think they both got better from this year to last. When we're losing and need comeback, we have Mo Williams and Dorell Wright to shoot threes instead of Babbit. Even McCollum should have better rookie numbers than Babbit ever did.

    Also, remember our games against NO last year? Lillard's stat lines were not impressive, and part of the reason for that is Lopez. He is a big body down low, and it makes guards think twice about driving to the hoop when they see a huge 7 footer by the rim. And he stays by the rim, he doesnt drift off and lose site of where he is supposed to be like Jj and Meyers both did very frequently last year.

    I do believe Lillard will also be better this year than he was last year, at the very least he will be more efficient. LA will get us his usual 21-9, and I see another leap from Batum still. And I havent even talked about the potential of Crabbe, Robinson and McCollum. Chances are one of them turns in to a real contributor. Probably not all three, but ATLEAST one of them.

    These are all the reasons I believe the Blazers will in fact make the playoffs. Id like to know what you guys think

    by Thetruth4 on 9/11/2013 8:26 PM
  11. @thetruth4:
    I don't know how many games we have to win to make the play-offs, but last year we were right there until injury hit LaMarcus,(sprained ankle), Batum and Batman; so we should make it this year with more experience and a better bench.

    We have the talent in our starting five and enough talent on the bench to give the starters some time for a breather; we can play small and fast with LMA playing center, we can play the bump and grind with Lopez in the center.

    If the players believe they can do it, I sure wouldn't be the one to tell them that they couldn't.

    by Hg on 9/11/2013 9:43 PM
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