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At the end of last season coach Nate McMillan passed out sheets of paper to his players and asked them to list their choices for starters, second-teamers and third-teamers. Instead of selecting Sebastian Telfair or Steve Blake as the starting point guard, the majority picked rookie Jarrett Jack. McMillan says his poll played no role in the Blazers' decision to trade Telfair and Blake over the summer, but it did show him that the team was comfortable with Jack, who, after averaging 20.2 minutes a game last season, will now be running the attack.
Jack fits what McMillan is looking for: He's competitive, mentally tough and businesslike. He spent the off-season studying video of top point guards such as Chauncey Billups, Steve Nash and Tony Parker. "Last year the effort was real lackadaisical at times," Jack says. "We really didn't prepare ourselves like we were supposed to. I think that's the reason why we've got so many new faces."
Of the 15 players on the roster, eight were new, including 6'10" forward LaMarcus Aldridge, the No. 2 pick out of Texas, and 6'6" shooting guard Brandon Roy, the sixth choice from Washington. One of the holdovers was 25-year-old power forward Zach Randolph, a double double threat whose off-court activities have been all too reminiscent of Jail Blazers past. In June, Randolph was riding in a car cited for street racing, and in August he was investigated for sexual assault. (No charges were filed.) "It's not even going to be a three-year fix," McMillan says. "The direction we're going, we have to be patient."
Projected Starting Lineup with 2005--06 statistics