Monday, 15 Jul 2024

2022-23 Season Preview: Portland Trail Blazers

After a challenging season in 2021-22, the Portland Trail Blazers are gearing up for a fresh start. Led by the exceptional talent of Damian Lillard, the team has made significant changes to bounce back and compete at a high level. Let’s take a closer look at what to expect from the Trail Blazers this upcoming season.

Steady Consistency Meets Challenges

For eight consecutive seasons, the Trail Blazers established themselves as a playoff team under Damian Lillard’s leadership. However, their consistency was disrupted last season due to various factors. Lillard’s abdominal injury limited his playing time to just 29 games, and the team faced additional setbacks with multiple player injuries. Portland finished 13th in the highly competitive Western Conference, signaling the need for change.

Building a Solid Foundation

The Blazers recognized the need to rebuild and made significant moves leading up to last season’s trade deadline. They traded CJ McCollum, Larry Nance Jr., and Tony Snell to New Orleans, while also sending Norman Powell and Robert Covington to the LA Clippers. These trades allowed the team to accumulate draft picks and increase their financial flexibility.

With the offseason in full swing, the Blazers focused on strengthening their roster. They drafted Shaedon Sharpe, an up-and-coming scorer, with the seventh overall pick. Contract extensions were secured for Damian Lillard and promising young player Anfernee Simons. Valued big man Jusuf Nurkić was retained, while the team added Jerami Grant and Gary Payton II to further bolster their backcourt.

Tham Khảo Thêm:  Top Moments: Celtics Outlast Suns in Triple-Overtime Finals Thriller

The Biggest Question: Playoff Contenders?

With the changes made, the Trail Blazers are determined to return to the playoffs. By granting Lillard an extension and surrounding him with new complementary pieces, the team has shown its commitment to winning. Barring any major injuries, the Blazers are expected to compete for a playoff spot. However, it may be ambitious to expect Lillard to carry the team further without additional talent around him.

Season Prediction: A Dangerous Playoff Team

Despite the challenges they faced, the Blazers are poised to become a dangerous playoff team. Damian Lillard, back to full health, will undoubtedly deliver the same level of excellence that he showcased prior to his injury. The team has also focused on improving their defense, addressing a key weakness from previous seasons. Additionally, their young players provide promise for the team’s long-term future. While the Blazers may not have enough firepower to advance deep into the playoffs, they are certainly capable of winning individual games against any opponent.

Key Stat to Know: Anfernee Simons’ 3-Point Shooting

Anfernee Simons showed incredible accuracy from beyond the arc last season. He shot an impressive 47.8% on catch-and-shoot three-pointers, the best among the 113 players who attempted at least 200 shots of this kind. Simons’ sharpshooting ability adds another dimension to the Blazers’ offense and will be crucial in their quest for success.

Projected Starting Five

  • Damian Lillard: The star point guard and cornerstone of the team, Lillard will aim to prove that the Blazers made the right choice in extending his contract.
  • Anfernee Simons: After significant improvement in scoring last season, Simons is poised to take another leap and establish himself as a key contributor.
  • Josh Hart: Despite being undersized, Hart’s defensive prowess will be essential in guarding opposing team’s top wings.
  • Jerami Grant: With a focus on improving the team’s defense, Grant’s versatility and defensive consistency will play a crucial role.
  • Jusuf Nurkić: Coming off an injury-plagued season, Nurkić is ready to assume his role as a reliable pick-and-roll partner, rebounder, and finisher.
Tham Khảo Thêm:  Suns: What’s new, season prediction & 2024 free agents

Key Reserves

  • Shaedon Sharpe: The Blazers’ rookie will provide energy off the bench with his entertaining dunks and passing skills.
  • Gary Payton II: Known for his defensive grit, Payton will relieve pressure off Lillard and Simons by providing much-needed defensive support.
  • Nassir Little: After struggling with injuries, Little is determined to prove himself as a dependable 3-and-D player.
  • Drew Eubanks: Impressing the Blazers during Jusuf Nurkić’s absence last season, Eubanks secured a one-year deal and will serve as a valuable backup.

FAQs

Q: Will the Trail Blazers make the playoffs this season?

A: Barring any major setbacks, the Blazers are expected to compete for a playoff spot. With the talented roster they have assembled, they should have enough firepower to secure a place in the playoffs.

Q: Can Damian Lillard lead the Blazers to a deep playoff run?

A: While Lillard is undoubtedly a superstar, it may be challenging for him to carry the team deep into the playoffs without additional talent around him. The Blazers will need contributions from their supporting cast to advance past the early rounds.

Summary

The Portland Trail Blazers are ready to bounce back after a challenging season. With Damian Lillard leading the way, the team has made significant changes to improve their roster and address their weaknesses. While their ability to make it deep into the playoffs may be in question, the Blazers are well-positioned to compete and make their presence felt in the Western Conference. With a renewed focus on defense and the emergence of young talent, the future looks promising for the Trail Blazers.

Tham Khảo Thêm:  2020-21 Season Preview: LA Clippers