Anyone who follows the Trail Blazers knows that the offense starts and ends with the backcourt. Both C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard dominate usage, which can make things somewhat predictable. While they get occasional help, the Blazers lack a true scoring option in the front court. This has been a problem for Portland, and one of the main reasons why they keep exiting early in the playoffs. This can continue to get them to the postseason, but anything more seems to be out of the question. This is the biggest question mark heading into the new season and really for the next few years.
When Portland traded for Jusuf Nurkic, the rest of the season looked like this was going to be a perfect fit. This past season was a little rocky for Nurkic. He averaged 14 points and 9 rebounds last season, but only played 26 minutes per game. That was an issue with the consistency, and we saw Portland rotate bigs with Nurkic, especially late in games. A strong start to the season will be good for Nurkic and the Trail Blazers. If he struggles again, Zach Collins might start to get some early runs, which would depreciate Nurkic’s value longer term.
The Trail Blazers have made the playoffs every year for the last five seasons, and three of the five have been first round exits. They lost to the Warriors and Spurs in the Western semis, which is understandable. The Blazers, much like the rest of the league, have go against the Warriors dynasty. Despite the Warriors, Portland has been early exits most years, and at what point does Portland change it up? This is a different scenario with Golden State there, but Portland will need to start looking five years down the line when Golden State is at least fading out.
This can go both ways here, but Portland could always make a move for someone and try to hope for a slip up. The other way this could go is to trade one of their star guards and start planning for the future. Portland has not built through the draft in quite some time, and going that route would be enticing with the draft classes being pretty strong over the next few years. A trade scenario on either side would shakeup the NBA quite a bit. The rumors of Lillard to Los Angeles has already been floating around NBA Twitter, but nothing concrete has even come close.
The Portland bench has been in the bottom of the league for quite some time now. Portland let Shabazz Napier walk away, and he showed some promise last season. They lack bench scoring, but brought in Seth Curry who, when healthy, flashed some potential. Other than that, you have Evan Turner who will be doing some ball handling duties at times. When you look at some of the other benches in the Western Conference, this is not a good situation for Portland to be in. You should be expecting Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum to be staggered at times.