I have previously acknowledged my interest and bias toward the Blazers and can toot my horn some about previous assessments and predictions. I wrote nearly three years ago that the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons would be significant to the franchise and most likely considerably more successful than previous years.
This was, of course, based upon numerical insight and, of course, not knowing who the players, staff or administration would be. In the meantime I totally outperformed Las Vegas odds makers and 1001 NBA sports analysts and beat reporters by predicting the 2015-16 Blazers would win 44 games when the unanimous consensus was around 25 wins, give or take.
For fun I took a stab at predicting a couple games in advance by describing the scores and player performance, and hit quite closely. While everyone was guessing and hedging I was one of the first to say outright that LaMarcus Aldridge would leave Portland, and that he would be unhappy in (and possibly out of) San Antonio within two years.
And so, as the Vegas disclaimer says, past results do not necessarily mean the same future success. With that in mind let’s take a look at the Trail Blazers for this year. You may want to get some more background by examining my numerological portrait of the entire organization and personnel published previously.
We can start by examining the numbers for the two new drafted rookies:
Caleb Swanigan, IS=3, S=5 and P=8 with a LN of 3. In a nutshell and at his best, this suggests a strong work ethic, desire for success and creative ability to adjust to the situation at hand. Paul Allen is likely to love this guy. He should play well together with CJ. If he plays, he produces even as a rookie. Will T. Stotts overcome his fear of rookies?
Zach Collins. IS=5, S=7, P=7 and LN=2(11). In a nutshell the numbers suggest he will be quick, introspective more than some may realize, studious and has a sense of becoming successful and widely recognized. He has a numerical affinity with Neil Olshey. With time could tickle the funny bpne of Dame, plays intuitively well with CJ. Hard work and talent gets him into the mix sooner than expected.
One of the new guys Jusuf Nurkic, AY=6, IY-6 and OY=9 with Ln=1. Here is a quick look. Fits in with the Blazers “dream” for success. Seeks to be perfect at his craft. Plays emotionally and can get on a crusade to do something. Proves to be a “steal” of a trade with a big year and very likely bigger next season.
I picked CJ as my player of the future his rookie year, and by the end of this season and into the next he will very likely be more productive than Dame. Later on I selected Pat Connaughton as the “steal” of the draft his rookie season. I also indicated his development would be slow, but in the end his athletic ability and work ethic would get him important playing time. This season should tell.
In summation, the numbers for the Portland organization suggest they benefit from the freedom of limitation and thrive with flexibility, a characteristic of the number 5. Coach Stotts has the 5’s, but has shown unexpected rigidity, and a morbid fear of using rookies (Dame being an exception). To waste players on the bench and then send them off to play well for other teams has been a tendency of Portland for decades. Everyone knows Stotts has talent up the gazoo, but will he use it?
The number 9 is one of perfection and dreams come true. It must be treated with realism along with hope. But it can mean developing the potential of the entire team and allowing each member to feel like a wanted contributor. The numbers say coach must move beyond his strict adherence to an 8 or 9 man rotation, and consider all the talent he has, and how to use in as many ways as possible when the moment dictates.
If Stotts clings to his established ways look for a 45 to 47 win season and maybe the play offs. If he can learn to recognize what each member of the team does well, and use more of his players at the time when what they do well is called for, they can win 55-57 games and get to the second round of the play offs.
Bottom Line: Elite winning coaches win big. Terry Stotts has been at it for nine years. His record: 338-355. If he does not do really well this year and next with what he has, he may just prove to be a basic 42-40 kind of coach.
(Authors Note) This was posted before the season started and before the roster was determined. I may choose to add some comments and insights as the season progresses.