photo via WikiCommons
I've found it much more difficult to rate the top half of the league as opposed to the bottom half. In fact, the NBA struggled differentiating teams last season. In the Western Conference, playoff seeds 3-9 were separated by just three games. There's not a lot of discrepancy when you evaluate these teams. That being said, the Trail Blazers seem best fitted for this position due to their lack luster playoff performance last year, their excellent backcourt, and continuity from last season.
The regular season Trail Blazers and playoffs Trail Blazers were too vastly different teams. Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and the rest of the New Orleans Pelicans really gave it to Portland, outperforming them in almost every category. Their performance in that series showed how they were most likely not seeded how they should have been if you were just squaring up talent for each team and not by record. Again, that close Western Conference race could have had teams anywhere really and there wouldn't be a large difference in record like in the East. The Pelicans exposed a lot of holes in the Portland roster and unfortunately due to a lack of cap flexibility, the Trail Blazers weren't able to address those concerns as much as they would have hoped.
Things aren't all bad in Portland though. They still have one of the league's greatest players in Damian Lillard running the show, C.J. McCollum will give you twenty a game and then host an incredible podcast, and Terry Scotts is one of the more underrated coaches in the league. Yes, the lack of depth and options past Lillard and McCollum is concerning, but they should still be able to be a good regular season team. This roster is constructed with players that have been with the organization for quite awhile and are locked up on long term deals. This is a great recipe for either really good success or prolonged sorrow. Right now, Portland can say their having success but some of those contracts could spell sorrow not too long for now. Portland is in a win now mode that needs to stay aggressive. That mindset will help them find their way into the playoffs in what will most likely be another tight race in those 3-9 spots.