Portland didn’t do all that much this past off-season, but the team should look very different. The team was riddled with injuries last year and struggled to find consistency. Despite that, the Trail Blazers still made it into the playoffs thanks to Dame. With a replenished and healthy roster, this team could be dangerous.
The team made headlines after trading for defensive stalwart Robert Covington. The 3-and-D specialist will fit seamlessly into the team’s scheme and might be the best defender Coach Stotts has ever had during his tenure. The two first-round picks the team forfeited to get RoCo might be a bit much, but it this is an obvious upgrade over Ariza. Enes Kanter found his way back to the team after being in Boston last season. Hassan Whiteside opted not to resign with Portland and Kanter was available, so they nabbed him. Kanter should provide the same kind of production seen from his during his previous stint and will be good insurance if Jusuf Nurkic isn’t ready for a full load. The most interesting addition is the high flying Derrick Jones Jr. who played valuable minutes for Miami last season. The contract was a bit of a gamble, as Jones Jr. still has plenty of room to grow, but he could be someone who really rounds out his game learning from Covington. The team selected C.J. Elleby in the draft, which shouldn’t go unnoticed. Elleby played multiple years in college at Washington State and showed himself to be a solid three-point shooter with defensive upside. Kind of sounds like Gary Trent Jr. without the pedigree.
The biggest factor for the Trail Blazers in the new season won’t be any of these additions. Even though they all look like they can be solid contributors, it isn’t the thing people should be most excited about. What ought to get people in Portland excited is that almost everyone is healthy to start the year. The only player, as of right now, that won’t be available to start the season is Zach Collins. Zach won’t be back for a couple of months due to a broken ankle, which will hurt the team. Even so, the team should be able to weather his absence due to the depth they’ve built in. Injuries could hit them again this year, but I don think they’ll be hit nearly as hard. If Dame can get some help around him outside of C.J., this team has a chance to go much farther than last season. If everything breaks right, I could see them being the top seed in the Western Conference come the playoffs.