The Portland Trail Blazers have not made any urgent moves that made or broke their roster. Before the Olympics, Damian Lillard had asked for the Front Office to be more urgent, and they were not. Here is The Blazers season preview:
With pretty much the same roster intact, how will the Portland Trail Blazers fare? The major change came with the new coaching staff. Can they do better?
Larry Nance Jr.
The biggest acquisition of the offseason was the trade for Larry Nance Jr. Nance adds an important piece to the Blazers in which they can either start him or bring him off the bench. He adds some height to the roster and some defense and rebounding.
The addition of Tony Snell was a good defensive pickup, though it has yet to be seen if he can turn himself into a good offensive option. Snell is a career 40% 3 point shooter, who shot 57% from beyond the arc this past season.
Depending on which version of McLemore the Blazers get, this could either be a very good or very bad pickup. If the team gets the 40% and above shooter, then it’s great. If not, then the rest is history.
As a backup center, Zeller should be a viable option off the bench. He has not stayed healthy in the past as a starter, though the Blazers will not be asking him to start. As a backup to Jusuf Nurkic, Zeller should be able to grab about 10 rebounds per game as well as get about 6-10 points per game.
Greg Brown III
The Portland Trail Blazers traded into the draft to select Brown late in the second round. During Summer League, Brown showed some definite poise that made him look like he could have been a steal.
It has yet to be seen what Chauncey Billups and his staff can do. But from top to bottom, the Blazers coaching staff looks good on paper. Scott Brooks has coached lethal guards in the past, and the assistants seem more qualified for their positions. Roy Rogers led the Portland Trail Blazer’s summer league roster to a record of 2-3, which is decent for who was on the roster.
With the loss of Enes Kanter, the Blazers will not miss much on the defensive side of the ball, though they will lose a lot on the offensive side. This last year with the Blazers Enes Kanter recorded a game in which he recorded 30 rebounds. The unselfish attitude and work ethic of Kanter will definitely be missed on the bench.
Though Kanter’s production will be replaced by Nurkic and Zeller. His work ethic of just getting the job done will be missed.
The elite shooting of Carmelo Anthony will definitely be missed by the Blazers. While in Portland, Melo had become a fan favorite… though his defense was painful to watch at times. With the way the roster will be constructed under Billups, Melo didn’t seem to fit.
Although, most of the time he was injured. When Zach Collins went to work getting in the head of his opponents with his intensity. That will be missed by the Blazers roster.
Starting Lineup: Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Norman Powell, Robert Covington, Jusuf Nurkic
It seems more than likely that as we draw closer and closer to the beginning of the season, the Portland Trail Blazers will be running it back with the same starting lineup. The offense of this lineup will be more than superb. We have yet to see whether or not Chauncey Billups and his staff can fix the defense. Though it does seem like he can.
Bench: Anfernee Simons, Tony Snell, Nassir Little, Cody Zeller, Ben McLemore, Derrick Jones Jr., Greg Brown III, CJ Elleby, Trendon Watford.
Battle for the last two spots: Dennis Smith Jr., Marquesse Chriss, Patrick Patterson, Quinn Cook. These four players have been signed to non-guaranteed contracts and will battle for the last two spots during training camp.
This bench could still use some help and maybe a big question.
Last season, The Blazers finished with a record of 42-30. That was with 2nd best offense and the second-worst defense. If Chauncey Billups can sustain that offense in the top 5, and improve the defense into the top 20 – top 15. The Blazers will be in a spot to win a top seed in the west. The Blazers used part of their MLE to sign Greg Brown. They could/should have used the non-taxpaying MLE unless they plan on making a trade that puts them above the tax apron. That is yet to be seen. Nonetheless, expect the Blazers to make the playoffs.
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