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What Trail Blazers Coverage Here Will Look Like in 2023-24
What to expect in year two.
I learned a lot in my first full season covering the Trail Blazers and the NBA in this way—fully independent and supported by you. I figured out what works, what doesn't, what's interesting for me to write, what's interesting to you, and how to balance all of it and deliver what I believe is the best coverage of the team you'll get anywhere.
In my first season, I did everything I could to make a paid subscription worth your money, and I think it's only going to be better in year two. I have some big things to announce soon.
It's still an evolving process, and this season is going to be very different than last. With Damian Lillard gone and the Blazers in a rebuild, the expectations for the season, both internally in the organization and from fans and readers I've heard from, is drastically different.
With the NBA's 2023-24 regular season tipping off tonight and the Blazers opening their season tomorrow against the Clippers, here is an overview of what to expect here. If you haven't signed up for a paid subscription yet, the start of the season is as good a time as any to do it.
Home games and practices
This is still going to be the anchor. I'll be at everything, and I'm going to write something after every home game, or at least plan to. It probably won't be a regular game story, especially in a rebuilding year. It could be a column about a trend, it could be a list of notes and observations, or it could be some sort of interview from locker-room access. It all depends on what the night calls for. But you'll get something.
I won't be at road games for most of the year, with a couple of exceptions (more on that below). It will vary whether I write something after road games I'm watching from home. Last year, early in the season I wrote after most of them. But unless something noteworthy happened (the game-winners on that early six-game road trip, when the vibes were great), there wasn't much interest from my readers in from-the-couch game stories. Frankly, they're not the most interesting for me to write, either, unless there's a specific angle I feel strongly about. Particularly this season, when the team's win-loss record isn't really the point, I'm leaning towards using the time they're on the road to work on features and bigger-picture stories. Obviously, I will be watching every game, and if there's something compelling to write, I'll do that. But I'm not going to force it.
I'm flying to Los Angeles today for the season opener tomorrow night, and I have tentative plans to be in New York in January for the games against the Nets and Knicks. That will probably be it for the year, unless subscription growth absolutely explodes. My hope is that this is the last year my in-season travel will be this limited. If I keep growing at the pace I have since I launched last June, there's a chance that a year from now, I'll be in a place where I'll be financially able to do the amount of it that I want to. That all depends on how many of you decide to become paid subscribers—the more it grows, the more feasible that is.
On the off chance the Blazers make the finals of the In-Season Tournament in December, I'll travel to Las Vegas for that (I don't see that happening, though—have you seen their group?) I'm planning on making the same trips I do every year after the regular season: to Chicago in May for the lottery and predraft combine, and to Las Vegas in July for Summer League. Those are a ways off, though.
In looking back over everything I did last season, my biggest regret was that I didn't do as many of the deep-dive features as I wanted to. During the season, the only one of those I was able to do was this one on Ibou Badji, which was one of my favorite things I wrote. But when you're caught up in the day-to-day of covering a team, it can be hard to find the time to dedicate to that sort of reporting.
I'm hopeful that this year, with a younger team and mostly new guys with stories that haven't been told yet, there will be more opportunities to do that kind of stuff. The fact that nobody expects this team to win a lot of games also lends itself to thinking a little more creatively about coverage, and I'm hoping to do that.
Rip City Remix coverage
A new wrinkle of this season—and my coverage—is that the Blazers finally have their own G League team, which begins playing next month at Chiles Center on the University of Portland campus.
Having covered this team as long as I have, one thing I know is how much the fanbase loves rookies and young players, so I'm expecting there to be a lot of interest in the Rip City Remix. All three of the Blazers' two-way contract players (Justin Minaya, Skylar Mays and Duop Reath) are going to spend a lot of time in the G League, and I would expect Rayan Rupert and Kris Murray to get some time with the Remix as well, so there will be real things for Blazers fans to watch.
I plan to be at as many of their home games as I can throughout the season, when they don't conflict with Blazers games. I'm not going to be writing game stories from G League games, but there are going to be some cool opportunities for features that I'm going to take full advantage of.
Increased subscriber involvement
Mailbags will continue to be a staple of what I do. Every time I do one, I get great questions and I enjoy hearing directly what you, my subscribers, are interested in reading about. I've been doing them roughly once a month, give or take, and I think that's a good pace.
Very soon, I'm going to introduce more community involvement. I'm getting ready to move my entire operation to a different platform, which is going to open up more possibilities for interacting directly with my readers. Stay tuned for more on that. These things will be for paid subscribers.
Near the beginning of last season, I signed a deal to bring my podcast to Audacy. That partnership has led to steady growth across the board, both in the audio and video realms, and that's going to continue. We're going to do at least one episode a week, shooting for two depending on schedule. If you like what I'm doing on the podcast, it's going to stay the same. If you're not already, you can subscribe on the Audacy app as well as Apple, Spotify or wherever else you get podcasts. You can subscribe to the YouTube channel as well.