PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS
By Shannon McKeown
RotoWire Staff Writer
With Roy established as the franchise's building block, Portland has surrounded him with solid mix of veterans, promising youth and role players. The veteran group consists of Steve Blake, Joel Przybilla and the recently acquired Andre Miller. Promising young players such as LaMarcus Aldridge, Greg Oden, Rudy Fernandez and Jerryd Bayless represent Portland's future. Portland also has players like Nicolas Batum to help out as a defensive specialist and Travis Outlaw as one of the better scoring sixth men in the NBA. The solid foundation the Blazers have laid gives them a bright future and makes Portland a great place to find multiple players who hold value in fantasy.
Joel Przybilla: With Oden missing time, Przybilla bounced between a reserve role and the starting lineup last year. He accepted his role without any complaints and produced consistent defensive numbers (8.7 rpg, 1.2 bpg). While he won't provide help on the other end of the court (5.5 ppg), Przybilla will continue to be a solid source of rebounds and blocks despite limited time spent on the hardwood.
Travis Outlaw: Outlaw plays the role of "super-sub" for the Blazers; he averaged 12.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.1 treys as the team's sixth man last season. Portland will once again ask him to provide scoring punch off the bench, so expect a similar output from Outlaw this season.
Nicolas Batum: The 20-year-old Frenchman was a surprise starter for the Blazers last year. While he only played 18 minutes per game, Batum provided the starting unit with solid defensive play and the ability to hit an occasional three. As his scoring average would indicate (5.8 ppg), Batum doesn't figure into the offensive game plan much, but he should see more shot attempts as his long-range game improves.
Martell Webster: Webster was the expected starter at small forward last season but suffered a fractured foot while training. That injury proved to be the end of Webster's season; he managed to log only five minutes of court time before suffering a setback. His rehab has gone well since then, and Webster should be back at full strength for camp. Before his lost season, Webster was the Blazers' top three-point threat and could once again provide fantasy value as a long-range specialist if he can find a regular spot in the rotation.
Dante Cunningham: Portland selected Cunningham in the second round of the 2009 NBA Draft. After averaging 18.3 points in Las Vegas this summer, he was locked up to a multi-year deal. The Blazers envision him as part of their future, but he'll likely spend most of his rookie season learning from the sidelines.
Jeff Pendergraph: The Blazers acquired Pendergraph in a draft-day swap with the Kings. At 6-9, 240, he has the size to play both forward positions. He showed promise during the Las Vegas Summer League, but a hip injury will keep him sidelined for all of training camp and the first month of the regular season. The rotation will likely be set by the time he returns, so look for him to spend most of his rookie campaign on the bench.
Andre Miller: After two-plus solid seasons in Philadelphia, Miller signed a three-year deal with Portland in the offseason. Nate McMillan has said he plans to bring Miller off the bench and start Steve Blake, but make no mistake, Miller will be running the show before long. The Blazers won't rely on Miller to provide much scoring punch, but he should still be one of the cheaper sources of assists in the league.
Rudy Fernandez: Some might think Fernandez's first NBA season was a failure after all the hype surrounding his play in the 2008 Olympics, but 10.5 points per game in limited action isn't too shabby for a rookie. He'll once again assume the role of long-range assassin off of the Blazers' bench, providing plenty of production in leagues that value three-point shooting.
Steve Blake: The 2008-09 season was a banner year for Blake. He averaged career-highs in points (11.0) and threes (2.0) while dishing out five assists per game. But those numbers were due, in part, to of a lack of depth behind him at point guard, and that'll change this year with the addition of Andre Miller. Blake will still provide plenty of value for the Blazers with his heady point guard play and underrated defense, but his minutes will be too limited to make another surprise splash in fantasy.
Jerryd Bayless: Baylesss' rookie season was rather forgettable. After entering the season with tons of hype, he managed to appear in only 53 games, constantly falling out of the rotation. It looks like Bayless will once again enter the season buried on the Blazers' depth chart; he's third in line for minutes at both guard positions and will likely need an injury to free up space. Still, he showed flashes of his lottery pedigree last season and should be monitored throughout the season.
Patrick Mills: A second-round selection in this year's draft, Mills suffered a broken foot shortly after the draft and has been sidelined since. The Blazers haven't offered Mills a contract yet, but he could be with the team once he returns to the court in late November.
Article first appeared on 9/18/09