The Portland Trail Blazers were the unquestioned surprise of the 2015-16 NBA season. Prognosticators had them missing the playoffs in the wake of LaMarcus Aldridge ditching Cascadia for Texas, and ESPN’s season preview said they were “rebuilding.” Terry Stotts had a roster full of untested and misunderstood players that was anchored around a pair of tiny sieve-like guards with high usage rates.
Instead of the middling campaign they were supposed to turn in, the Blazers finished fifth in the Western Conference, bounced the Clippers out of the first round, and put up a noble fight against the Warriors. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum scored a million points and a stable of skilled youngsters proved they were worthy of the opportunities Stotts was forced to give them. They were, as we wrote at the time, a miracle.