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Portland Trail Blazers: No. 33

Sam Forencich/NBAE/Getty Images

This story is part of ESPN The Magazine's September 29 Fansourced Issue. Subscribe today!

Last year's ranking: 57
Title track: 64
Ownership: 29
Coaching: 40
Players: 20
Fan relations: 27
Affordability: 53
Stadium experience: 32
Bang for the buck: 41

Damian Lillard's series-winning shot, a cold-blooded 3-pointer to beat the Rockets in Round 1, gave Portland its first playoff series win since the infamous conference finals flop in 2000 and provided its rabid fan base a long-overdue moment of happiness. Rip City, a one-team town, has a reputation for devoted fans that stretches back to Bill Walton's 1977 champs. That passion, on its own, helps buoy a 32nd-ranked stadium experience, which is improved by ticket prices that are around the league average. And a No. 27 fan relations ranking was helped by Portland's Create the Court campaign, a fan-submission contest for the right to design the Moda Center's new floor. (It's the first time the Blazers will install an entirely new hardwood since 2002-03.) According to the team's website, Portland is the first team to put the fate of its playing surface design in the hands of fans via "a digital platform." Not suprisingly, the Blazers received 20,000 entries. That enthusiasm also is reflected in our rankings, where Portland improved in each category from last season. A 43-spot leap in bang for the buck and a 34-spot hike in coaching are encouraging, but much will hinge on the future of breakout star LaMarcus Aldridge, a free agent after the upcoming campaign. Judging by the city's elation last spring, why would he want to be anywhere else?