2012-13 W-L: 33-49
New Faces: Terrel Harris, Robin Lopez, Thomas Robinson, Earl Watson, Mo Williams, Dorell Wright
New Places: Luke Babbitt (unsigned), J.J. Hickson (Denver), Jared Jeffries (waived), Eric Maynor (Washington), Sasha Pavlovic (waived), Nolan Smith (unsigned), Elliot Williams (unsigned)
Drafted: C.J. McCollum (10), Allen Crabbe (31)
The Blazers hung around the fringes of the playoff race for far longer than anybody expected last season. LaMarcus Aldridge, Nic Batum and Damian Lillard powered a starting lineup that was actually pretty decent for most of the year, but the bench unit was an outright disaster.
So Neil Olshey went to work this offseason acquiring pieces to supplement his starting lineup. He gave up two European stash prospects and two second round picks to acquire Thomas Robinson, who this time last year was a top-5 pick about to enter his rookie season. Sacramento gave up on him, and Houston just gave him up. Now he’s got a chance to really get some minutes.
Portland then inserted itself into the Tyreke Evans-Greivis Vasquez trade, and got a serviceable center who can actually play some defense for its troubles. The cost was just second round pick Jeff Withey, a future 2nd round pick, and cash. Lopez is a guy who finally allows LaMarcus Aldridge to shift to his preferred position of power forward pretty much full time (even if LMA and the Blazers have been more successful when Aldridge plays the 5), and also one who can both run and defend the pick and roll in equal measures. He’s solid, and that’s basically all you need next to an All-Star at the other big man slot.
The rest of the offseason was about adding firepower. C.J. McCollum was probably the best scorer in the draft. Allen Crabbe was considered one of the top shooters in the draft. Mo Williams and Dorell Wright are three point bombers. These guys will all get their chances to light it up from outside. LMA, Batum and Lillard are still the bell-tollers in Rip City, but now they’ve got some teammates who can actually make defenses pay for doubling off them.
McCollum and Williams figure to split their time between backing up Lillard at the point and also playing next to him some, and may share the backcourt without Lillard at certain times as well. Crabbe will swing between the 2 and 3 spot, Wright will do the same at the 3 and 4, and Robinson can soak up some front court minutes at either spot, if Portland decides it wants to go small when Aldridge is in foul trouble (for example). There’s a lot more versatility here than there was last season.
These moves, while impressive within the limited financial outlay with which Portland made them, do not push the Blazers over the top into the realm of contenders. But they should probably make the playoffs, which is a fine first step.