The 2019 Portland Trailblazers are a very interesting team. Last season, they finished 49-33 which was good enough for third in the Western Conference. That is a bit misleading as the difference between third and eighth last season was two wins. When they got to the playoffs, they were absolutely rocked by Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans who swept them in the first round. So, it’s a bit difficult to really make ends of them here. That sweep really undid a lot that people think of the Blazers. I don’t know if that’s right, but it’s definitely happening.
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The question of this team will be the same as always, do Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum work together? Can you win with two guards leading your team? This season will likely have the same answer as the same several seasons: there is none. They will win games and the two guards will have great seasons, but they won’t be great. Not until they find a third player to put it all together.
A lot of people think that person might be Zach Collins. He’s a big part of why they let Ed Davis go and he’ll get a lot of chances this year. He’s a good three point shooter and rim protector, but his rebounding needs work and his improvement in the passing game will be key to his development. The team has high hopes for him and his development is key this season.
The additions of Seth Curry and Nik Stauskas will improve the three point shooting tremendously. Lineups with one of Lillard or McCollum, Al-Farouq Aminu, Curry, Stauskas and Collins could really stretch the floor and be hard to guard. That said, they would also have a hard time guarding the other teams.
Which is what I ultimately think the downfall of this team will be. Last season their 104.2 Defensive Rating was the 8th best in the NBA. That wont repeat itself and this is definitely a reloading year for this team. Of all the Western Conference playoff contenders, I find the Blazers to be the most vulnerable. One injury to the top-three of Aminu, McCollum and Lillard and this thing could go bad in a hurry.
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