Heading into the 2022 NBA season, the range of outcomes for the Portland Trail Blazers were very diverse. There was a case to be made that Portland should look to tear down their team with their sights set on landing a generational prospect in the 2023 NBA Draft. Others believed that the Trail Blazers were not that far from contention in the Western Conference, and just needed a couple of breaks to make a return trip to the postseason.
Bettors from all over the country can weigh in on just how successful Oregon’s only professional basketball team will fare, including on the east coast of the country, where money can be placed via the best Washington DC online gambling sites.
As it turns out, the Trail Blazers look like they have landed on some solutions during the offseason that will help them remain relevant throughout the year. The first month or so of the season has been increasingly positive for Portland fans, and we’ll take a look at how the franchise can keep up their effective play throughout the year.
Anfernee Simons As C.J. McCollum 2.0
• It’s incredibly apparent to anyone who follows the NBA even on a casual basis that Damian Lillard is the straw that stirs the drink in Portland. He’ll obviously need to stay on the floor and provide the elite level of All-Star production that fans have gotten used to.
• Even though the Blazers didn’t quite advance as far as they would’ve liked in the postseason with the Lillard-C.J. McCollum tandem, it doesn’t mean that the team can’t rely on a potent offensive backcourt to win games. Anfernee Simons has continued to improve in each of his five NBA seasons, and looks to be a legitimate scorer in the making.
• Simons has averaged over 20 points per game so far in the first month of the year, and there’s no reason to think that clip would slow down. The Blazers will need to learn from the McCollum experience and see how the explosive guard can best be deployed to maximize team success.
Jusuf Nurkic Staying Healthy
• Portland doesn’t have a lot of quality depth up front, so it will be very important for center Jusuf Nurkic to remain available for the majority of the campaign. He missed the last six or so weeks of last season due to plantar fasciitis. The team was struggling anyway though, and had no real motivation to have him return in April.
• While the team now has a lot of players who are willing to crash the glass to secure rebounds, Nurkic remains their best in that department. His presence will also deter opposing guards from driving all the way to the rim.
• He’s not going to facilitate offense on his own, but Nurkic has done a nice job taking advantage of matchups and setting the tone in the paint. Additionally, he has extended his range this season, where he is now at least comfortable shooting three pointers a couple of times a game.
Versatility On the Wings
• Once the franchise traded McCollum to the New Orleans Pelicans, it signaled the end of an era. The Blazers seemed to give up on the idea that they could win with two small guards in the backcourt, although Simons has now given them reason to question that stance.
• Be that as it may, Portland has looked to add to their versatility, so that their forwards can cover ground all over the floor. Josh Hart and Jerami Grant have been two excellent additions to the roster over the past couple of years. Hart is a capable facilitator, shooter and has tremendous rebounding production for his size. Grant made a name for himself as a defender in the NBA, but has since dramatically improved his offensive game.
• The great thing about having Hart and Grant on the team is that they understand their roles. Hart has been content to fill in the blanks regardless of which NBA team he’s played for. Grant was a role player with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets, before taking a starring responsibility with the Detroit Pistons. His experience as “the guy” and “a guy” will help him provide whatever Portland needs on a nightly basis.
The future looks more entertaining for Blazer fans, and we can discuss in the OBD forum. Join us!
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