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A Look at the Trail Blazers' New Players

Yahoo Contributor Network

The Portland Trail Blazers are heavy on newcomers heading into the 2012-13 season.

And it's not just players.

General manager Neil Olshey is entering his first season with the team, having hired coach Terry Stotts in August to replaced the fired Nate McMillan.

Stotts will look down the bench at a roster that features more than 50 percent first-time Trail Blazers, five of whom are NBA rookies.

After the Blazers made their final cuts last week to get their roster down to 15 -- dismissing Coby Karl, Adam Morrison and Justin Holiday -- they became a team with just seven returning players and eight newbies.

Shooting guard Eliot Williams is one of the seven returners, and he's most likely out for the whole season as he recovers from surgery to repair his torn left Achilles tendon.

So with that, Portland's newcomers outweigh the returners eight to six. Here's a look at the eight:

Damian Lillard, PG

The rookie out of Weber State was Portland's top pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, taken sixth overall. He enters the season as the team's starting point guard and with big expectations after standout performances in the Las Vegas Summer League and in the preseason. Could be a contender for the league's Rookie of the Year Award.

Meyers Leonard, C

Portland's second first-round pick in the 2012 draft, Leonard went 11th overall out of Illinois. He's a 7-foot-1 center who provides a much-needed presence in the middle for a team that's mostly undersized. His development, in particular, could be key to Portland's season.

Will Barton, SG/SF

Barton is a swingman out of Memphis who went 40th overall in the second round of the June draft. Last year's Conference USA Player of the Year battled a hamstring injury that limited him to just four preseason games. He showed flashes of his abilities despite struggling with his shot in those four games (5-for-13, 11 points combined), and his quickness and aggressive defense should be a welcomed addition.

Joel Freeland, F

Freeland was Portland's fourth first-round pick in the 2006 draft, taken 30th overall. But he's heading into his first season with the team, having played in Europe since then. Freeland was just 19 years old when the Blazers drafted him, and the 6-foot-10 forward/center from England had only been playing basketball since age 17. He was a major project for the Blazers, who encouraged him to play overseas and develop his game, and Freeland has done just that, having done so well for Spain's Unicaja Malaga team that the Blazers had to pry him away with a hefty buyout.

Victor Claver, F

Picked by Portland 22nd overall in the first round of the 2009 NBA Draft, Claver finally joined the team this summer after having spent the past few seasons developing his game in his native Spain. He's a 6-foot-9 small forward who can hit from outside, as he showed while scoring 13 points in 13 minutes of an October 17 preseason game.

Jared Jeffries, F

Jeffries is with the fourth team of his 10-year career, during which he's averaged 5.0 points and 4.2 rebounds in the regular season. He came to the team in a July sign-and-trade deal that sent Raymond Felton to the Knicks. At just 30, Jeffries is the oldest player on the team, and the Blazers are hoping the 6-foot-11 forward can offer some leadership and knowledge to the team's many youngsters.

Ronnie Price, G

Pardon the pun, but the price was right for Portland when it signed this unrestricted free agent to a two-year, $2.4 million deal in July. Price, who played for Sacramento, Utah and Phoenix in a seven-year NBA career, gives the Blazes some inexpensive depth at the point guard and shooting guard spots, and Olshey told reporters back in July that he thought Price's game gives the team a different look at point guard than Lillard and backup Nolan Smith present. "I think he'll really complement those guys," Olshey told Blazers Edge.

Sasha Pavlovic, G

Pavlovic is a 6-foot-7 swingman who played under Stotts during the 2010-11 season, when Stotts was an assistant with the Dallas Mavericks. He's heading into his 10th season in the league, with a career average of 5.1 points, having joined the Blazers in a July trade that also netted them two second-round picks.


Portland Trail Blazers roster

Meet the Trail Blazers 2012: Jared Jeffries says 'it's always more fun when you do the unexpected'

Knicks officially announce sign-and-trade with Blazers for Raymond Felton

Blazers announce signing of UFA G Ronnie Price


Adam Sparks has followed the Portland Trail Blazers since the early 1980s, and has written about the team as a freelancer since 2009.

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