Season preview: Portland Trail Blazers

Season preview: Portland Trail Blazers


Season preview: Portland Trail Blazers

STAYING: Al-Farouq Aminu, Pat Connaughton, Ed Davis, Meyers Leonard, Moe Harkless, Damian Lillard, Jake Layman, CJ McCollum, Shabazz Napier, Jusuf Nurkic, Evan Turner and Noah Vonleh.

ADDED: Zach Collins (Gonzaga), Andrew Nicholson (Brooklyn) and Caleb Swanigan (Purdue).

GONE: Allen Crabbe (Brooklyn), Festus Ezeli and Tim Quarterman (Houston).

STRENGTHS: Terrific offense with All-Star caliber guards in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum … Super hard to stay in front of them, plus they make threes in bunches … They will give you 50-55 points on a regular basis … McCollum has improved his scoring average each of his seasons in the NBA … The best may be yet to come … Even after the departure of Allen Crabbe, this should be a pretty good three-point shooting team … Jusuf Nurkic had an extremely promising start with the Blazers after the trade deadline … The fact that he enters a contract season should be extra motivation to put together a great year … He has a mean streak on the defensive end and the ability to create offense in the post with great passing … Terry Stotts is an underrated coach who makes good with not-so-impressive rosters.

WEAKNESSES: Portland has many serviceable NBA players, but only a few to be really excited about … There’s just a shortage of talent compared to other Western Conference powers … Not enough two-way players … They have very little scoring at the forward spots … There’s no high-quality backup for Lillard … If the shots are not falling for Dame and McCollum, they have few other go-to options for points … Defensively, the undersized Lillard-McCollum backcourt is certainly not the best around … This would easily be a playoff squad in the Eastern Conference … Will not be easy for them to make the postseason out West.

PREDICTION: 4th in the Northwest Division, 8th in the Western Conference.



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