Nba nerd

BoxScore Geeks' 2014 Portland Trail Blazers Preview

The Numbers

  •  Average Seed
    6
  • 📉 Pessimist
    41.4 wins
  •  Realist
    49.5 wins
  • 📈 Optimist
    57.7 wins
 First Seed
 
5.0%
⋆ Division
 Top 4
👍 Over (48.5)
ğŸ‘Ž Under (48.5)
ğŸŽ€ Playoffs

The Brief

The Blazers lived up to their name last year: they were a blazing hot 3-point shooting team. They were everything Byron Scott hates, while achieving heights that Scott's Lakers are unlikely to sniff. The only rotation player that the Blazers lost is Mo Williams, but Steve Blake is a great replacement. It will be hard for the Blazers to reproduce the scorching hot shooting of last year, but expect them to be in the playoff hunt.

The Story

Twenty-one times in the history of the NBA, a player has shot 500 threes, and hit them at 39% or better. The Blazers had two of those player seasons. Now, let's be fair, so did the Warriors, and six player seasons on that list are from last year. And as the 3-pointer grows ever more important, that list is going to grow a lot faster over the next ten years than it did in the previous ten.

Last Year

  •  Actual Wins: 54
  •  Expected Wins: 54.1
  • ⚅ Lucky Wins: -.3
Player Minutes Age WP48 Wins
Nicolas Batum 2,956 25 0.241 14.9
Damian Lillard 2,937 24 0.111 6.8
Wesley Matthews 2,780 27 0.151 8.7
Robin Lopez 2,603 26 0.220 11.9
LaMarcus Aldridge 2,498 29 0.082 4.3
Mo Williams  1,834 31 0.033 1.3
Dorell Wright 984 28 0.126 2.6
Thomas Robinson 873 23 0.104 1.9
Joel Freeland 727 27 0.089 1.3
C.J. McCollum 476 22 -0.062 -0.6
Will Barton 387 23 0.089 0.7
Meyers Leonard 355 22 0.009 0.1
Victor Claver 184 25 0.107 0.4
Earl Watson 161 35 -0.044 -0.1
Allen Crabbe 100 22 -0.028 -0.1

 Indicates that the player is no longer with the team.

  • 54.1 total Wins Produced
  •  1 players leaving
    (1834.0 minutes, 1.3 wins)

Still, when you consider that in addition to Matthews and Lillard, the Blazers also had great long range shooting from Batum, McCullom, and Williams, the Blazers were a hell of a long range threat. They were above average at hitting threes, and shot a lot of threes, and it paid off in spades (only the Hawks and Rockets shot more threes, and neither hit them as well).

Stotts deserves a lot of credit for this. I still think Aldridge is crazily overrated and I am highly skeptical that all of his long two-pointers are what opens up room for their wings to bomb away. Rather, I think LMA's long twos are exactly the shot that defenses want this team to take. Still, Stotts generally put the ball in the hands of the right players to get the job done.

This Year

  •  Projected Wins: 49.5
  •  Conference Rank: 7
  • % Playoffs: 72.7
Player Position Minutes Age WP48 Wins
Damian Lillard 1.0 2,326.8 25 0.134 6.5
Nicolas Batum 3.0 2,287.1 26 0.172 8.2
Wesley Matthews 2.0 2,267.3 28 0.153 7.2
LaMarcus Aldridge 4.0 2,166.0 30 0.157 7.1
Robin Lopez 5.0 2,030.0 27 0.185 7.8
Dorell Wright 3.0 1,393.0 29 0.129 3.7
Steve Blake  1.0 1,258.3 35 0.105 2.8
Chris Kaman  5.0 1,126.6 33 0.038 0.9
Thomas Robinson 4.0 979.5 24 0.133 2.7
C.J. McCollum 2.0 875.9 23 0.019 0.3
Diante Garrett  1.5 595.5 26 -0.012 -0.1
Victor Claver 2.5 529.6 27 0.023 0.2
Joel Freeland 4.5 527.6 28 0.092 1.0
Meyers Leonard 4.5 497.6 23 0.037 0.4
Will Barton 2.0 443.8 24 0.052 0.5
Allen Crabbe 2.0 375.3 23 0.085 0.7

 Indicates that the player is new to the team.

  • 📅 54.2 WP last year
    by these players
  • 🔀 2.2 WP (roster changes)
  • ⏲ .5 WP (age/experience)

I'm not as high on Lillard as most, and in particular I think his ceiling isn't much higher than where he is now. He's a great shooter, obviously, but has not done much of anything else in his career. This doesn't make him a bad player (great shooting can make up for lots of faults). I doubt he'll ever become a true all-star caliber player with his low rebounds and subpar assist to turnover ratio.

Steve Blake is a great addition to the squad. I expect him to do a lot of the things he did the last time he was a Blazer. He should hit lots of threes without turning the ball over too much. He'll fit perfectly into this offense. Of course, he is on the wrong side of thirty, and his impact may be limited.

I think Kaman is an awful pickup; he's old and hasn't produced well in ages. Worse, he'll take minutes from guys like Thomas Robinson that should be getting groomed for bigger roles. It is unclear to me why Kaman keeps getting more chances.

The Wrap

The same formula as last year (lots of threes, Robin Lopez cleaning up the boards) should have this team fighting for 50 wins again. Of course, the problem with this is familiar to Blazers' fans: the West is loaded. 50 wins might not get you in the playoffs, or it might only be a one-way ticket to a drubbing at the hands of the Spurs.

Of course, there's also the worry that the variance can kick the team in the proverbial nuts. Shooting efficiency, especially from long range, can have lots of swings. The Blazers rode hot streaks to an over-performance last year, and that could swing the other way this year.