By Jared Doyle @outofboundsjay on May 29, 2014
Even though their postseason success was short lived, the Portland Trail Blazers more than exceeded expectations this season, finishing with a 54-28 record. With the amount of success the Trail Blazers had this year, a lot of pressure will be on this franchise to perform well heading into next season. The starting five will dictate how well this franchise performs, which makes picking the players for it vitally important.
With one more year still left on his contract, Robin Lopez will return to the Portland Trail Blazers as their starting center. This was arguably Lopez’s most impactful season in the league, averaging career highs in multiple categories. The Blazers would be foolish to let Lopez go. He averaged 11.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks during the 2013-14 regular season.
The 2013-14 regular season was without a doubt LaMarcus Aldridge’s best season in a Trail Blazers uniform. The first time NBA All-Star averaged 23.2 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.0 block per game. These are monster numbers that will absolutely continue into next year. Aldridge will be the Blazers' starting power forward for the 2014-15 season.
Nicolas Batum also had a breakout 2014 season, averaging career highs in rebounds and assists. Batum’s versatility is what makes the Trail Blazers offense so deadly. The lanky forward has the ability to create his own offense off the dribble while also creating offense through others, hence why Batum was second on the team in average assists. Batum will be the starting small forward for the Blazers heading into the 2014-15 season.
Keeping with the theme of the rest of the starters, Wesley Matthews also had a breakout season in which he attained career-high averages in points, rebounds and assists per game. What’s even more miraculous is Matthews started all 82 games this year, the first time he has done this in his five-year career. Outside of Will Barton making a run at the starting guard spot, Matthews' starting position should be secure for next season.
Damian Lillard has been outstanding for the Trail Blazers since he entered the league, and he hasn’t slowed down either. Even after winning the Rookie of the Year award last season, Lillard again set career highs in points, rebounds and field goal percentage. Lillard is the face of this franchise, and that won’t change anytime soon. Lillard will without a doubt be the starting point guard for the Blazers next season.
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