That’s the last day of the regular season, and the Blazers are not making the playoffs. While they currently are just two losses out of eighth place in the Western Conference, they also are in 11th place, with Utah and Dallas in front of them.
Lillard is not alone; most of this season’s top newcomers will be watching the postseason on TV. In fact, very few rookies will have the ability to impact the playoffs.
Here’s a rundown of the 16 teams currently holding playoff positions. Three or four will be counting on contributions from their rookies, as they have for most of the regular season:
MIAMI HEAT: How do you win 20 straight games? Have a roster without any rookies.
NEW YORK KNICKS: Argentine point guard Pablo Prigioni, 35 years young, has helped fill the holes created by injuries to Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert and Jason Kidd. His minutes likely will be reduced, but his 38 percent 3-point shooting, willingness to move the ball and quick hands should not be overlooked as assets. Forward Chris Copeland actually averages more points (6.9) than teammate Steve Novak but won’t see the court.
INDIANA PACERS: Shooting guard Orlando Johnson will only get minutes if Danny Granger’s knee remains cranky. Otherwise, Granger, Paul George and Lance Stephenson will rotate among the two wing spots. Miles Plumlee and Ben Hansbrough will be wearing sportsjackets.
BROOKLYN NETS: They think they have something in Mirza Teletovic, whose ability to stretch the defense with his shooting gives them a dimension they don’t get from Reggie Evans and Kris Humphries. But he is a terrible defender and occasionally lazy rebounder who will hurt more than help in the postseason. Third-string point Tyshawn Taylor won’t play unless there is an injury.
CHICAGO BULLS: Even with Derrick Rose still on the sidelines, most of Marquis Teague’s minutes have come in garbage time. Can’t see him nosing into the postseason rotation, regardless or Rose’s status.
BOSTON CELTICS: In Tuesday’s loss at Charlotte, they finished up with in-season signings D.J. White and Shavlik Randolph manning the forward spots, a clear indication of how much they really miss Jared Sullinger, who is out for the season with a back injury. Fab Melo will bring the Krispy Kremes to practice.
ATLANTA HAWKS: The season-ending injury to Lou Williams has elevated John Jenkins to a rotation player. The postseason won’t change that, although more minutes at shooting guard may go to the experienced and defensive-minded DeShawn Stevenson. Power forward Mike Scott won’t play.
MILWAUKEE BUCKS: Big man John Henson’s per-36 numbers (17.2 points, 12.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocks) are excellent, but his minutes have been sporadic lately, partially due to Gustavo Ayon’s grumbling. Given the foul issues of Larry Sanders and Samuel Dalembert, Henson should see the floor in the playoffs.