Aldridge will have to pick up much of the scoring slack.
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
In the last 10 years only two rookies, Houston's Steve Francis (1999-2000) and Cleveland's LeBron James ('03-04), averaged more points and more assists than Brandon Roy (16.8 ppg, 4.0 apg) did last season.
Record: 32-50 (12th in West) Points scored: 94.1 (29th in NBA) Points allowed: 98.4 (14th) Coach: Nate McMillan (third season with Blazers)
A wait-till-next-year club will start laying the foundation for the future
Before the preseason
opener at the Rose Garden, Greg Oden hobbled into the locker room on crutches
and was caught by surprise: His Trail Blazers jersey was hanging in his locker.
"I just sat down and looked at it for a couple minutes," says Oden, the top pick
in the June draft. "I was imagining if I could play, how nervous I would
But Oden won't put on that uniform or deal with the jitters for another year,
as he will miss the season after microfracture surgery on his right knee. It was
a devastating blow to a franchise that was ready to return to the national
spotlight; Portland failed to qualify for the playoffs the past four seasons
after 21 straight trips.
And the news got worse. After missing 20 games of his Rookie of the Year
season because of irritation from the talus bone in his left heel, Brandon Roy
was sitting out the preseason as a precautionary measure after the same ailment
acted up in the team's first practice. If rest does not alleviate the pain, Roy
The Portland players who are healthy want to show fans that they
shouldn't give up on the team. There is still plenty of size on the roster with
center Joel Przybilla and forwards LaMarcus Aldridge, Channing Frye and Raef
LaFrentz, who all stand 6' 11" or taller. Aldridge in particular had an
outstanding preseason and will be counted on to increase his production should
the Blazers be without their top two scorers from a year ago: forward Zach
Randolph (traded to the Knicks in June) and Roy. James Jones and Martell Webster
are quality shooters, and there is depth at the point with Jarrett Jack and
But the heightened expectations that came with winning the draft lottery have
come and gone as quickly as Oden's jersey: "When I came back to the locker room
at halftime, all of my stuff was gone," he says. "The next time I see it,
hopefully I'll be wearing it." -- Arash Markazi