By Henry Abbott
The Blazers were set to open the season with far too many small forwards -- Nicolas Batum started on last year's 54-win team, ex-starter Martell Webster is back from injury, Travis Outlaw has closed a lot of games. But, as general managers will tell you, you never know what's going to happen.
And something happened!
Batum, the team has announced, is set to have shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum.
This injury can have a wide array of recovery times, but it's worth noting that Jameer Nelson, who missed half of last season, also had a torn labrum.
The Blazers have plenty of firepower at Batum's position, but the young Frenchman stood out on Portland's roster. The Blazers aspire to greatness -- to improve their pressing need is to improve team defense. With length, speed, tenacity and pride at that end of the floor, Batum is the team's best candidate to become an elite wing defender. He is also a capable shooter when left open, making him a rare Blazer (along with Joel Przybilla, Steve Blake and sometimes Greg Oden) with a proven ability to influence a game without needing plays called for him.
No official word yet on who will start in Batum's place, although Webster was considered a candidate to start even before Batum's injury.