42-40 (Tom), 30-52 (Gil)
Last Year’s Record
I like predicting sports outcomes on the basis of how I envision future storylines rather than, well, logic, and I see two major storylines looming for this Portland squad: 1) the team banding together in the face of an inexplicable loss (Greg Oden’s injury), and 2) everyone questioning whether an injured player should come back when everything is already working well without him (Oden again).
This beats the crap out of last year’s potential storylines, which were 1) Zack Randolph was stabbed at Indiana nightclub and 2) Zack Randolph stabs at Indiana nightclub. So watch this team. Also, Coach Nate McMillan’s system is better suited to give a less talented team a few extra wins than it is pushing a talented team to 60 wins. Really, watch this one. On the other hand, the team could go 4-78. The locals won’t care, because they live in Portland, and no one else will care, because no one outside of Portland ever pays attention to Portland.
Rejoinder From Gil
Gotta feel bad for a team that actually tries to do the right thing — build around quality draft picks, jettison its bad-seeds — and manages to get the #1 draft pick, but still ends up getting the finger. The only way they could get more cursed is if Darius Miles returns from injury and puts up decent numbers, blocking the development of, um, anybody else. I hope Tom’s right, and that LaMaRcUs Aldridge takes a big step up helps keep this team afloat, but I think Brandon Roy’s gonna have to go from ROY to MVP to get this team to .500.
Gratuitous Comics Connection
Portland has more cartoonists per square mile than any American city west of the Mississippi.
Gratuitous Pharma Connection
AVI Biopharma’s HQ is in Portland. They’re using antisense technology to develop drugs. I don’t know what that means. Some of their research includes work on Ebola, anthrax, and avian flu, so it sounds serious.
The Bottom Line
Having Paul Allen for an owner means that you get a really neat team website. My favorite part is the roster segment, where you get video of players talking. All of which is to say, “Raef La Frentz is still on this team?” Go listen to him talk about how excited he is about this season. (Bonus: Joel Pryzbilla’s player section includes video of his cameo in The Nutcracker. I can’t make this up.) –GR