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The Trail Blazers embark on a fresh start without Damian Lillard

PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS

Last season: 33-49, missed playoffs for second consecutive year.

Coach: Chauncey Billups (3rd season with the Blazers, 60-104).

What to expect: The Trail Blazers are in rebuilding mode without seven-time All-Star Damian Lillard, who was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks just before the start of training camp. Lillard averaged 32.2 points last season and has averaged at least 24 in each of the last eight seasons. Also gone is starting center Jusuf Nurkic, who went to the Phoenix Suns. The Blazers acquired Deandre Ayton from the Suns and Robert Williams from the Celtics, giving Portland a pair of big men to work with. Portland also acquired guard Scoot Henderson with the No. 3 pick in the NBA draft. As a result of the flurry of offseason moves, Portland’s roster has no players over the age of 30. While Portland did not win a single game in the preseason, it appeared that coach Chauncey Billups has a potential starting lineup this season in Henderson, Anfernee Simons, Jerami Grant, Shaedon Sharp and Ayton. Simons thrived two seasons ago when Lillard played just 29 games because of injury, averaging 23.4 points and 5.8 assists as a starter. He had 18 games with five-plus 3s. Ayton is looking for a fresh start with Portland. The No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft, he averaged 18 points and 10.0 rebounds in 67 games with the Suns last season.

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Departures: Damian Lillard, Jusuf Nurkic, Nassir Little, Keon Johnson, Drew Eubanks, Grayson Allen, Cam Reddish.

Additions: Deandre Ayton, Robert Williams, Scoot Henderson, Malcolm Brogdon, Kris Murray.

Player to watch: Sharpe embarks on his second season with the Blazers. The No. 7 pick in the 2022 draft averaged 9.8 points in 79 games last season, wowing fans with a number of highlight-reel dunks. He started in Portland’s final nine games, scoring 20-plus points in all but one of them. He was the only rookie in the league with 27-plus points, six-plus rebounds and six-plus assists in multiple games last season.

Season opener: Oct. 25 at the Los Angeles Clippers.

FanDuel Sportsbook NBA title odds: +50,000.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba