Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 11/18/14
The time has come NBA training camp is upon us, and for the Portland Trail Blazers, that means we’ll get to see a new-look roster that endured some serious re-tooling during the summer. Fans in Rip City are approaching the 2013-14 season with a cautious optimism. The talent is there to surprise some people, but the team is hardly considered a contender at this juncture. At this point in the process, look for improvement across the board. Portland is still young, and turning potential into production must be the goal entering the new year. Here are five things to keep an eye on as training camp commences. Established Rotation Thomas Robinson (right) has a chance to earn minutes behind LaMarcus Aldridge. (Photo: Trailblazers.com) During the 2012-13 season, head coach Terry Stotts had a relatively simple scheme when it came to setting a rotation. The starters played as many minutes as they could possibly handle, and the bench saw as few minutes as humanly possible. Now, with a real-life set of reserves on board, the team has a tougher task when it comes to establishing a rotation. If there’s any knock on Neil Olshey’s execution this offseason, it’s that the backcourt is borderline crowded. That’s a good problem to have considering the depth issues that took place last year, but finding time for three scoring point guards will be difficult to say the least. The hope is that Damian Lillard, Mo Williams and C.J. McCollum will be able to split time between the 1 and the 2, but then there’s the question of how integral does Wesley Matthews remain in the attack. Luckily for Stotts, the bigger positions should be more straight forward. Robin Lopez and Meyers Leonard will split time (with Robin Lopez earning the slight edge in minutes), and Thomas Robinson will slowly be integrated into the game plan behind LaMarcus Aldridge. This team is deeper than it was last season by a long shot, and while that should give fans hope, it also gives the coaching staff a tough task ahead. Confidence Basketball is a physical game, but there’s a mental aspect to it that you simply can’t ignore. Entering training camp, fans want to see players with sky-high confidence. This team has looked dejected at times throughout its recent struggles, but with new faces on board, turning the frowns upside down is a must. #Hyped RT @JBJB68: @wessywes2 how do you feel the #Blazers have done do far this off season? Bench appears deeper. — Wesley Matthews (@wessywes2) July 24, 2013 Damian Lillard’s Growth As the reigning Rookie of the Year, all eyes will be on Lillard during the early season. Very rarely do we see stars cap out following their first years, which means the development of the point guard should be a vital part of the team’s immediate success. Because of the depth in the backcourt, expect Lillard to play fewer minutes in 2013-14. On the surface, that may sound like an instant drop in production, but what you have to remember is that the 23-year-old was playing on tired legs much of his rookie season. More rest should equate to good things, especially on the defensive side of the floor. http://t.co/Xgr5T836iQ: Damian Lillard Wants to Play Less Minutes Next Season http://t.co/nAzEsjMEtl #SLAMnewswire #NBA — SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) August 21, 2013 On the offensive end—a spot where fans would like to believe Lillard plays a flawless game—there are a few areas where he can improve. First and foremost, fewer three-pointers would benefit both him and his teammates. The youngster took  more than six shots per game from long distance, and while he made good on 36.8 percent, he now has scorers to help take off the pressure. Also, adjusting to double teams will be crucial if he wants to remain a star. The kid has the potential to be among the league’s top floor generals; now he just has to stay hungry in his pursuit toward greatness. Rumors The NBA is back in full swing, which means trade talks are sure to begin—at least when it comes to the fans and the media. Robin Lopez will make Portland a better defensive unit. (Photo: TrailBlazers.com) We all know about LaMarcus Aldridge’s wild summer, and the question was once again brought up during Media Day about his long-term future with the team. At this point, expect the big man to be in Portland. He’s the best player on a rebuilt roster, and if the organization truly wants to make the playoffs, he’s going to be the one to lead the way. That said, don’t expect people to ignore the issue at hand. Aldridge has an opportunity to walk in 2015 if he’s not traded beforehand, and you’d better believe that will be on the minds of both fans and team personnel throughout the year. Defense, Defense, Defense The Trail Blazers struggled defensively during the 2012-13 campaign, and that’s going to be a point of emphasis this season. With Lopez on board, the whole team should benefit from his ability to clog the middle. He’s never been known as a true dominant defender, but his 1.6 blocks in just 26 minutes per contest shows what he’s capable of. More importantly, the center’s presence allows Aldridge to play the power forward position, which has been his goal in Portland since his arrival in 2006. The Blazers aren’t going to become a top-tier defensive ball club overnight, but they have the potential to be much better than they were a year ago. The NBA’s best teams are all defensive juggernauts, and that’s a mentality Rip City must adopt in 2014. CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE BLAZERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Jon Jones wanted for questioning in hit and run

Pitcher throws perfect game with 23 strikeouts, still loses

Will LaMarcus Aldridge leave the Portland Trailblazers?

Wizards sweep listless Raptors

Clippers defeat Spurs, even series at 2-2

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

JR Smith 'nervous as hell' about possible suspension

Dana White: No more WWE for Ronda Rousey

Kevin Love rips Kelly Olynyk for 'bush league' play

Report: Eli Manning not concerned about contract

Several teams interested in Bucs' No. 1 overall pick?

Report: Marcus Smart overslept, could get less playing time

Paul Pierce burns Raptors fans with epic troll job

Yes, ESPN2 is airing video games

WATCH: Former NBA’er Darko Milicic is enjoying life

WATCH: Alex Gordon leaps into stands for incredible catch

WATCH: JR Smith ejected for hitting Jae Crowder in face

WATCH: Kevin Love leaves Game 4 with shoulder injury

Joe Flacco content with current Ravens receivers

WATCH: Demetrious Johnson wins with last-second submission

WATCH: Jerryd Bayless beats Bulls with buzzer-beater

John Legend catches Belichick checking out Chrissy Teigen

Jim Rice to Jim Palmer: 'Quit complaining'

Time Warner-Comcast failed merger hurts Dodgers fans

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Paul Pierce trolls Raptors fans

Yes, ESPN2 is airing video games

Darko Milicic is enjoying life

Pitcher throws perfect game, still loses

Will Aldridge leave the Blazers?

Alex Gordon leaps into stands for catch

Dana White: No more WWE for Rousey

Kevin Love rips Kelly Olynyk

JR Smith ejected for hitting Jae Crowder

Report: Wainwright likely done for year

UAB player brings helmet to graduation

Leah Still scores in Temple spring game

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.