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Who Must Step Up For The Blazers Next Season

Monday, July 20, 2015

 

This upcoming season the Portland Trail Blazers will look drastically different than they have over the past few yearss. They no longer have LaMarcus Aldridge, Robin Lopez, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, Aaron Afflalo, Steve Blake or even Joel Freeland. That’s over half of last year’s team. Although this isn’t quite the offseason that the Blazers were hoping for this young squad that Neil Olshey has assembled still has plenty of potential. But with the Blazers going through the rebuilding process they’ll desperately need someone other than Damian Lillard to step up for the team. So who will it be?

Allen Crabbe, a 2nd round pick in 2013, is one guy that the Blazers will desperately need this upcoming season. For the first time in his career he has the opportunity to play some meaningful minutes for Terry Stotts. If he continues to improve he could even find himself in the starting lineup. The past 2 seasons have been rather difficult for Crabbe. He has endured numerous games on the “inactive” list and several trips to the D-League. It’s not that he isn’t talented, or willing to put in the work. It was due to him having to play behind one of the best three-point shooters in the NBA, Wesley Matthews. It also didn’t help his case that Nicolas Batum could also slide over and play the shooting guard position as well. Right before last season’s trade deadline the Blazers acquired Arron Afflalo, who also happens to play shooting guard. Luckily for Crabbe he did have an opportunity last season to start a few games. During those games he was essentially asked to shoot threes and play solid defense by coach Stotts. But as the season went on his role diminished. 

This season will be completely different. As of now Gerald Henderson and C.J. McCollum are the only guys on the current roster who are capable of playing shooting guard. Although it looks like Henderson will likely start next to Lillard nothing is set in stone. Henderson, 27, is one of the older guys on the roster and he’s coming off of hip surgery. Also, he isn’t a great shooter, which is something that Stott’s offensive scheme requires. McCollum, on the other hand, could start if given the chance, but it seems as though the team enjoys having him come off the bench for instant offense. Olshey has also said that McCollum could see some time at point guard, which opens up a spot for Crabbe. 

If Crabbe can continue to develop and show the Blazers’ coaching staff that he has improved his overall game this offseason there’s no doubt that there will be a spot for him during the upcoming season. The problem with Crabbe was never his talent, but an opportunity for him to shine. There’s a reason that he was named the 2013 Pac-12 Player Of The Year. Although he recently suffered an ankle injury, there’s no doubt that the team will need him to step up next season.

 

Related Slideshow: 10 Things We Learned From Neil Olshey’s Press Conference

Here are 10 things that Rip City learned from Neil Olshey's press conference.

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The Trail Blazers Are Officially In Rebuilding Mode

Neil Olshey made it very apparent that this is an “emerging” team, and that many of these guys haven’t reached their full potential yet. He also acknowledged that it may take some time for this team to "gel." As of now the average age of the team is around 24 years old. Only Gerald Henderson and Chris Kaman are over 27. 

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Damian Lillard Is The Franchise Cornerstone

With LaMarcus Aldridge officially headed to San Antonio Neil Olshey and the rest of the organization turned to Damian Lillard to lead the team into a new era. This became official when Lillard and the Blazers agreed to a 5-year contract extension that will keep him in Rip City through the 2020-2021 season. Olshey reiterated several times that they are now building the roster around the 2012 Rookie Of The Year.

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LaMarcus Aldridge’s Decision To Leave Influenced The Blazers To Not Re-Sign Robin Lopez and Wesley Matthews

The Blazers chose not to re-sign Robin Lopez and Wesley Matthews because of Aldridge’s decision to sign with the Spurs. “As happy as I am for Wes and RoLo — and they’re really good players and the organizations that got them are lucky to have them — both of them and their agents were notified very early in the process that they were tied to LaMarcus,” stated Olshey. Rip City will surely miss the hustle that RoLo and Iron Man brought every night.

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Neil Olshey Has High Hopes For Al-Farouq Aminu And Ed Davis

When Neil Olshey was asked questions regarding his 2 free-agent acquisitions he immediately lit up when speaking about Al-Farouq Aminu and Ed Davis. Olshey explained that Rip City should be excited to have these 2 guys because last year Aminu was a starter on a playoff team and Davis, at times, was one of the best players on the floor for the Los Angeles Lakers. 

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LaMarcus Aldridge Wasn’t Always Happy In Rip City

At one point during the press conference Olshey stated, “We didn’t inherit the happiest player in the world 3 years ago” when speaking about LaMarcus Aldridge. It appears as though that some of Aldridge’s displeasure began before Neil Olshey, Damian Lillard or Terry Stotts were even part of the organization. If he was unhappy in Rip City why did he re-sign with the team after his rookie contract expired in 2009?

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The Team Has Faith In C.J. McCollum

Although C.J. McCollum is one of the youngest guys on the team Neil Olshey made it known that they will rely heavily on him next season. With Wesley Matthews and Aaron Afflalo officially gone the starting shooting guard spot is up for grabs. Even if he doesn’t start there are still going to be a ton of minutes at that position.

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Neil Olshey Is A Great Salesman

With the departure of LaMarcus Aldridge Portland fans assumed that this team was going to be bad next season, and possibly for the foreseeable future. What Neil Olshey reiterated was that the future is still bright for the franchise. He explained that the Blazers are equipped with young talent, cap space and an owner that wants to win. 

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Damian Lillard And Meyers Leonard Will Be The Leaders Of This Team

Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard are the 2 longest tenured Blazers currently on the roster. They were also both drafted in 2012. Olshey explained that the newcomers will be looking to them for guidance this upcoming season. Lillard and Leonard will have to take on a larger role with the team than they have in the past. 

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The Blazers Have No Plans To Tank Next Season

Neil Olshey was very adamant that this team will not be tanking next season. As of now it appears that this team isn’t quite good enough to make the playoffs, but not quite bad enough to be awarded a lottery pick next season. Although the team is rebuilding, Rip City doesn’t have to worry about accumulating more loses than necessary.

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Neil Olshey Is Dedicated Not Only To The Blazers, But Also The City Of Portland

Neil Olshey made is very evident that he wants to put a team out on the court that the city can be proud of. One of the main reasons that he chose to appoint Damian Lillard as the new face of the franchsie was because he embodies the same things that Portland does. 

 
 

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