Friday , Oct , 20 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Portland Trail Blazers 2006-07 Season Preview

(Sports Network) – Portland is trying to completely rebuild its team. The
Trail Blazers finished the 2005-06 campaign with a league-worst 21-61 record
and missed the playoffs for a third straight year.

Power forward Zach Randolph led the Trail Blazers in scoring (18.0 ppg) and
rebounding (8.0 rpg), while Steve Blake, who was traded to Milwaukee during
the offseason, dished out a team-best 4.5 assists per game. Randolph is
Portland’s best player and gives them a presence in the low post.

Guard Jarrett Jack and forward Martell Webster showed some promise as rookies
in 2005-06, while guard Juan Dixon netted 12.3 per game in 76 contests.
Disgruntled forward Darius Miles played 40 games and registered 14.0 points
and 4.6 rebounds. Miles would like to be traded and the team will most likely
continue its attempt to try and accommodate him.

Draft night was a very busy time for the franchise. When the night was over,
Portland had LaMarcus Aldridge of Texas and highly-tauted guard Brando Roy of
Washington in the fold. The Trail Blazers traded the rights to Villanova guard
Randy Foye, who was selected No. 7 overall by the Celtics, along with cash
considerations to Minnesota for the rights to Roy, who the Timberwolves
selected with the sixth pick in round one. They had acquired the rights to the
seventh overall selection through an earlier trade with Boston. The Trail
Blazers sent point guard Sebastian Telfair, forward Theo Ratliff and a future
second round draft pick to the Celtics for forward Raef LaFrentz, guard Dan
Dickau and the first round-pick, which ended up being Foye.

Portland, which made some lesser moves as the draft progressed, is trying to
turn the franchise. The draft was a excellent start. Aldridge and Roy are not
only excellent players, but they have good character, which is something that
the Trail Blazers could use on their roster. A step in the right direction for
this club.

Center Jamaal Magloire was obtained from Milwaukee in a deal for Blake, while
Joel Przybilla, who averaged 6.1 points and 7.0 boards in 56 contests last
season, re-signed with the club and will team with Magloire to give Portland a
solid tandem in the middle.

Head coach Nate McMillan is back for his second season with the club. After
last season, McMillan has to be happy with the changes and the young players
he will be coaching. McMillan will put his stamp on the team in the 2006-07
campaign.

BACKCOURT

With Blake and Telfair gone, the point guard duties will be handled by
Jack and Dickau. Jack averaged 6.7 points and 2.8 assists last season. The
Blazers would be thrilled if the 6-3 Jack, who turns 23 on October 28th, rises
to the challenge and become their starting point guard of the future.

Roy and Dixon will compete for playing time at shooting guard. The rookie Roy
is the real deal and will have an impact in his first year in the league.
Dixon’s name was involved in trade rumors and he could be wearing a new
uniform in the near future.

FRONTCOURT

Magloire averaged 9.2 points and 9.5 rebounds in 82 games for Milwaukee last
season. He is very tough down low and will team with Randolph to makeup a
tough duo in the paint on both ends of the court. The 28-year-old center is in
the last year of his contract and should have a productive season in Portland.

The Trail Blazers actually should be excited about the future with their
frontcourt. If Aldridge can develop into a productive low post NBA player and
the 19-year-old Webster’s game continues to mature, there could be a lot to
look forward to.

Portland knows what Randolph is going to give it, while Miles is just playing
out his days with the Blazers. The 30-year-old LaFrentz, who registered 7.8
points and 5.0 boards per game in 82 contests for Boston in 2005-06, is still
serviceable and can hit the outside jumper.

OUTLOOK

The Trail Blazers are finally doing a complete makeover. Acquiring Roy and
Aldridge on draft night was a great first step. The process is still in the
beginning stages.

Another trip to the lottery is a good thing for this franchise. Adding more
talent through the draft is how this team will keep building for a better
future.

POR