Portland Building a Winner Around LaMarcus Aldridge

It likely will be weeks before everything is settled from the free agent frenzy that took place this offseason in the NBA. Since the season does not start until this fall, teams will be working hard with their new lineups, but the results are still a distant thought.

The Portland Trailblazers will battle the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Northwest division crown again this season. The Trailblazers did not sign any high-ticket free agents during the season.

Instead, it looks like Portland intends to build its playoff contender around big man LaMarcus Aldridge.

Whether Portland can effectively succeed with the 29-year old as the focal point is yet to be seen.

Aldridge said in a July interview he was committed to staying with the Trailblazers. He said he wanted to catch the career stats for Clyde Drexler by staying in Portland.

The Trailblazers have built a nice starting five around Aldridge with phenom point guard Damian Lillard, Nicolas Batum a strong two-way player, Robin Lopez at the pivot and Wesley Matthews a strong shooting No. 2 guard.

However, the rest of the Trailblazers’ roster has been its downfall. Over the past two seasons, the Blazers bench has been the leagues worst in point production.

While points alone is not the only way to judge the success of a bench or the chance it has to reach the NBA Finals, just four teams over the past 10 seasons have won an NBA Title finishing in the top 10 in that stat, Portland’s reserves have presented a difficult challenge both production and position-wise.

The bench lacks a strong scorer, rebounder and defender. The reserves also need some experience and those that have different dimensions that can compensate for odd matchups and that can also keep opponents from being able to make adjustments so easily.

Portland’s signings of Steve Blake at point guard to back up Lillard and Chris Kaman to give Lopez a rest will help.

There are a number of high priced free agents that could enter the market for the 2015-16 season. However, while the Trailblazers likely will not have a chance at Kevin Durant or LeBron James, the free group will also included DeMar DeRozan and Dwight Howard.

However, it does not seem owner Paul Allen will go overboard in his spending to build an instant contender. He would prefer to invest some each year and build his champion that way.

With the likes of Aldridge in the paint and Lillard as the court general, Portland has one of the league’s top five combos of forward and guard.

While Lillard is younger and possibly the bigger star in the long run, the time is now for Aldridge to lead the team toward an NBA Championship.

Other teams might play in bigger markets and receive much more exposure, but the Trailblazers are content on building upon a hugely successful 2013-14 season and go deeper in the NBA postseason during the upcoming season.

The team owner and coaching staff are putting a great deal of confidence in Aldridge to lead the way, with a very strong supporting cast.

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