http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/page/5-on-5-110831/portland-trail-blazers-offseason-questionsOn a 0-to-100 scale, rate Portland's chances of cracking the West elite.
Henry Abbott, TrueHoop: I'd say there's about a 1-in-3 chance that a team with LaMarcus Aldridge as its best player makes a Western Conference finals in the next several years. (How's that for sounding really specific while being really vague?)
Tim Donahue, Eight Points, Nine Seconds: This is pretty interesting. The Lakers, Spurs and Mavs all have a lot of miles on them, and the Thunder are the only elite team with youth. Nobody else seems to be coming hard, and Portland is even with or ahead of other hopefuls in Denver, Memphis and New Orleans. Let's call it 70/30.
Jordan Heimer, ClipperBlog: 10 -- or whatever the odds are that absolutely everything breaks right. If LaMarcus is as good as he was last season. If Oden and Roy somehow defy medical science and play full seasons. If McMillan can keep the team playing hard-nosed basketball night after night. If the Lakers, Mavs and Thunder contract Portland's bad luck. If ... you know what? 10 is high.
J.M. Poulard, Warriors World: 60. Joining the elite would mean that Portland would be somewhere among the best three teams or four teams in the Western Conference; and for the time being those are Dallas, Los Angeles and Oklahoma City. Now add the up-and-coming Nuggets, Grizzlies and Clippers, and things could potentially get tougher for the Blazers.
Andrew Tonry, Portland Roundball Society: Up here in Portland basketball season comes at the same time as the rain. It's not a hopeful time of year, and neither is the Blazers' immediate outlook. The roster has gone from deep and promising to thin and questionable. Nonetheless, with Nate McMillan pushing, the Blazers will continue to overachieve. They just won't be contending for a title anytime soon.