COACH: Nate McMillan | 2006-07: 32-50
Portland Trail Blazers

Aldridge and Roy will become the focus of the Oden-less Blazers.
Sam Forencich/NBAE/Getty Images
If ever there was a reason for an NBA team to be disappointed, the loss of top draft pick Greg Oden for the season would have to be at the top of the list. The Portland Trailblazers, who held the No. 1 draft pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, selected Ohio State star Greg Oden, only to see their potential glory season hopes dashed by season-ending knee surgery. Billed as the type of player you could build a championship team around, Oden averaged 15.7 points and 9.6 rebounds last season as a freshman at Ohio State, and lead the Buckeyes to the national championship game, scoring 25 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in the loss to Florida.

Oden underwent microfracture surgery after having an exploratory procedure on his right knee which had been giving him chronic pain. Full recovery likely will take six to 12 months, the team said.

Sure, the loss of a potential superstar is huge, but the Blazers don't have any regrets. "We picked the right kid; he cares about his organization. And I can't [overemphasize] how bad he felt, and not because he had to go through the rehab and all that, but because he felt like he let us down," GM Kevin Pritchard told ESPN.com. "And he hasn't let us down at all."

Despite their disappointment, the Blazers insist all is not lost. Portland expects extremely tough competition for at least four of the starting spots, with forward/center LaMarcus Aldridge being the only certainty. They also have the last season's Rookie of the Year in Brandon Roy, a promising young talent who could become a franchise player. Portland also traded Zach Randolph to the Knicks for Channing Frye, and picked up guards Steve Blake and Taurean Green in the offseason.

Backcourt
Jarrett Jack, who started 79 games at point guard last season will be pushed in training camp by free agent pickup Steve Blake. Jack is one of the most well-liked players on the team, but is also said to be highly emotional. "Oh yeah. Jarrett would definitely be mad, oh yeah, because he started all season last year," head coach Nate McMillan told The Oregonian. "But I would be concerned if he wasn't. I want that fire… He knows he has to come in and earn that position, and with the signing of Steve he realizes, more so, that we were serious about improving that position."

Shooting guard Brandon Roy, who had a stellar rookie season last year, will have to deal with the pressures of being the target of defenses. "This year is going to be a challenge for Brandon," said McMillan. “Last year, I don't want to say he was a surprise, but now, people know him, there's a respect there. There's a lot of talk around the league, people saying 'Boy, that Brandon Roy, he's nice.' So, for a player like that, he will see something different because teams will prepare for him differently.

Frontcourt
Despite the colossal loss of Oden, the Blazers have depth in their frontcourt. James Jones, Travis Outlaw and Martell Webster will all compete for the small forward spot at training camp. LaMarcus Aldridge, Joel Pryzbilla and Channing Frye will likely share time at power forward and center. If Raef LaFrenz can stay healthy he could see time off the bench as well. Darius Miles, who has had surgery on both knees, says he will be ready for a comeback by November or December.

McMillan would like to see more aggressiveness out of Aldrige and Frye, especially going hard to the rim. "They are very similar in the fact that they are both comfortable shooting from the outside," he told The Oregonian. “They both like to face-up and shoot. But I want them both to work on attacking the basket. We don't want them shying away from the paint. With Greg being gone, they both have to establish their presence in the paint and get to the free throw line."
-- Jeff Brody

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Aldridge
As a proven scorer at the University of Texas two years ago, LaMarcus Aldrige could feel added pressure to fill in the offensive loss of Zach Randolph. "There is pressure on LaMarcus," Head Coach Nate McMillan told The Oregonian, “simply because some people are looking at him as he is replacing Zach. That was cool when Greg (Oden) was here, but now that Greg is gone and Zach is gone, there is added pressure for him to deliver, and in a big way. We all think he is capable, but he just lost two pieces that would have allowed him to do it slowly. But I think a double double is something he should shoot for -- (Kevin) Garnett-type numbers."

To achieve that, he will have to play more minutes and get more touches. Aldridge averaged 9.0 PPG and 5.0 RPG as a rookie last season, in slightly over 22 minutes per game. His season was cut slightly short in late March after he experienced a rapid heartbeat which was found to be caused by Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome. The condition was treated and not considered to be career-threatening.
-- Jeff Brody

THE STAT
5.3 In the 2007 NBA Draft, the Portland Trailblazers overcame the odds and won the NBA Draft Lottery with only a 5.3% chance of doing so. They drafted center Greg Oden, whose season ended before it began.

McMillan
NATE McMILLAN
Eighth season, Third with Blazers
Career Record: 265-294 (.474)
Playoffs: Twice, 8-8 (.500)
Nate McMillan plans to use a nine-man rotation this season, with a possible tenth man to see limited minutes. With heavy competition for starting spots in training camp, McMillan's goal is to get players to understand starting isn't the most important thing.

"The best five are not necessarily the starters," McMillan told The Oregonian. "But with a lot of guys, it's about status. The bottom line for me is to come up with a group that starts and a complimentary second unit, because the second unit is just as important, if not more, than the first unit."

For McMillan, performance will determine the rotation, not any pre-determined scheme. "If I give you that shot to finish the game," he continued, “you better take advantage of it. If I give you that shot, and you blow it, you miss it or you turn it over, then we are going to somebody else."
-- Jeff Brody

KNOW YOUR BLAZERS
Raef LaFrentz was named after a character in the 1969 movie "Home From the Hill."
That is a really sad story, to have that injury.
They have great young talent. I like the guys they drafted last year, Aldridge and the kid from Washington. I like Jarrett Jack.
Joel Przybilla has really come into his own the past few years and now it looks like he will be the starting center. They picked up Channing Frye from the Knicks.
Are they a playoff team? Probably not, but even without Oden I think they will have improved off last year.
I think Nate's experience and his toughness will help young guys like that, making them develop defensively and offensively. He realizes they are a young team and I am sure he knows not to put too much pressure on them, just try to get them to grow.
-- NBA Scout
PG - Jarrett Jack: Will start but may face playing time challenges from Blake and Rodriguez.
SG - Brandon Roy: He was an asset in virtually all categories except blocks as a rookie.
SF - Martell Webster: Currently penciled in at starter, but Travis Outlaw will challenge him.
PF - LaMarcus Aldridge: He'll carry the frontcourt load during his second season.
C - Joel Przybilla: If he receives consistent minutes, he could be worth a shot.
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Record: 30-52, Last in Western Conf.
Playoffs: Did not qualify
Scoring Leader: B. Roy, 19.9 PPG
Rebounding Leader: L. Aldridge, 8.9 RPG
Assist Leader: S. Blake, 6.5 APG

Simulated Season Details
PLAYER/2006-07 STATS PPG RPG APG
PG Jarrett Jack 12.0 2.6 5.3
SG Brandon Roy 16.8 4.4 4.0
SF Martell Webster 7.0 2.9 0.6
PF LaMarcus Aldridge 9.0 5.0 0.4
C Joel Przybilla 2.0 3.9 0.3

G Steve Blake 6.4 2.1 5.0
F James Jones 6.4 2.3 0.6
F Raef LaFrentz 3.7 2.6 0.3
F Travis Outlaw 9.6 3.2 0.8
G Sergio Rodriguez 3.7 1.4 3.3
F Channing Frye 9.5 5.5 0.9
G Steve Blake Free agent
F Channing Frye Trade
G Taurean Green Draft
F James Jones Trade
F Josh McRoberts Draft
C Greg Oden Draft
C Jamaal Magloire Free agent
G-F Ime Udoka Free agent
F Zach Randolph Trade
G Dan Dickau Trade
G Fred Jones Trade
PPG Zach Randolph 23.6
RPG Zach Randolph 10.1
APG Jarrett Jack 5.3
SPG Brandon Roy 1.18
BPG Joel Przybilla 1.56
Points Scored 94.1 ((29th)
Points Allowed 98.4 (14th)
Field-Goal Percentage .450 ((21st)
Opponents' FG% .471 ((25th)
Rebounding Diff. +0.30 ((12th)
NBA Seasons: 37
Playoff Appearances: 26
NBA Finals Appearances: 3
Championships: 1 | Last Title: 1976-77
Best Season: 1990-91, 63-19
Season Opener:
Oct. 30 @ SAS (8 p.m. ET)
Home Opener:
Nov. 7 vs. NOH (10:30 p.m. ET)
Longest Road Trip:
7 games in 11 days: Jan. 13-23
@ TOR, @ NJN, @ BOS, @ MIA, @ ORL, @ ATL, @ NOH
Longest Home Stand(s):
6 games in 14 days: Dec. 17-30
NOH, TOR, DEN, SEA, MIN, PHI
6 games in 13 days: Jan. 25 - Feb. 6
HOU, ATL, CLE, NYK, DEN, CHI
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Radio: KXL 750 AM
Web: Official site
Local Coverage: The Oregonian | Portland Tribune