Last year's record? 50-32, lost in the first round to the Utah Jazz.
Projected record, as predicted three months ago in time to publish in Yahoo! Sports' NBA Preview Magazine? 50-32
Why I think that sounds about right?
Because these aren't massive upgrades, while the team's notoriously injury plagued roster has lost a little depth.
The squad is still gathering assets, more or less, and relying on internal development to make a big step forward in a still-tough Western conference. On top of that, Andre Miller's(notes) wheels could fall off at any second, which would force Brandon Roy(notes) to play even more point guard. He's quite capable of running the show, but you would prefer he wouldn't. And if Greg Oden(notes) suffers through another injury plagued year, the team's defense (though the raw numbers are good due to the team's slow pace) will continue to mitigate all this offensive greatness.
Why I think I might be terribly, terribly wrong?
Because if things go right -- and believe me, at lot has to go right -- this team could be beastly.
If Nic Batum can stay healthy the entire season, and he gets the minutes he deserves? You're going to be laughing for months about the way I just called Travis Outlaw and Martell Webster "significant."
If Brandon Roy can find a nice balance between last season's minor step-back and 2008-09's "holy crap, this guy is nearly as good as Kobe" seasons? Then the Blazers will be battling for second in the West.
And if, and you knew it was coming, Greg Oden can give this team 60 games at 30 minutes a night? Then we could be looking at a 60-win team. Oden is that important, and his expected play (even after yet another injury) is that potent.
Sebastian Pruiti, the wunderkind behind NBA Playbook, shared this gem on Twitter yesterday: Portland has snared 39 offensive rebounds in the first two games of the season, or 43.8 percent of all available offensive caroms. That's just a crazy, crazy number, and a big reason that they're 2-0.
To give you an idea of how impressive that is, the highest Offensive Rebound Rate (ORR) that any NBA team posted last season was the Memphis Grizzlies' 31.3. Only the Grizz and the Detroit Pistons grabbed more than 30 percent of available offensive rebounds last year; the league average was 26.3. So to get up over 40, even in a ridiculously small sample size, you're doing something.
Because of that ridiculously small sample size, it's unlikely that Portland's abject offensive-glass dominance will continue to such a significant degree -- the rates for players like LaMarcus Aldridge(notes) (a remarkably skilled big man, but not exactly a Rodman-esque vacuum on the backboard), Nicolas Batum(notes) (a 6-foot-8 small forward who's been seeing time as an undersized four) and Andre Miller (whose six rebounds this season have all come on the offensive end) are all likely to drop as the games and minutes wear on. But it might not drop off quite as much as you'd expect -- the Blazers were ORR studs last year, too, finishing with a rate of 28.2, the league's fourth-best mark, and they did that largely without injured centers Oden and Przybilla, both of whom should be back in the lineup by Christmas (with Przybilla possibly back as soon as next weekend).
"So many people here, they are loving my slick and dirty hair"
"Finally, for Fabricio, a home is found. Gracias, Puertorlando."
Greg Oden is big: A three-minute reminder
"Rise, rise, rise, rise, rise
Rise, rise, rise, rise
Reign, reign, reign, reign, rrrreeeeeeiiiiigggggnnn
Fly through the air
Come in hard
He don't care
'Cause he's big"
I guess every sentimental folk hero need his theme music. Pretty great.
(Also: Get your minds out of the gutter. Ought to be ashamed of yourselves.)
- Greg Oden