As the offseason starts to shut down, and the pre-season draws closer. Here is an evaluation of how the Portland Trail Blazers won the offseason:
Last season, the Blazers had some significant injuries right out of the gate. Those three injuries were to some of their key players (Jusuf Nurkic, Rodney Hood, and Zach Collins). But they made it to the playoffs through the Bubble.
The problem throughout the entire year, as they had no defense after losing Collins and Hood, and the offense had become stagnant when it came to the Pick and Roll, which the Blazers use frequently. Why was it stagnant? You had Anthony Tolliver and Hassan Whiteside as your centers, not very good PnR guys.
With Nurkic back fully healthy we will see the Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic Pick and Roll. But, you also have Enes Kanter, Derrick Jones Jr., and Robert Covington who can be the other part of that pick and roll as well.
The Trail Blazers traded for Robert Covington
One of the best 3 and D players in the NBA, Covington played for the Houston Rockets last year as their power forward and center (small ball). The Blazers traded two first-round picks and Trevor Ariza for Covington. Kind of a high price, but we’ll see if it’s worth it
He averaged 11.6 points, 8 rebounds, 1.6 steals, 2.2 blocks, and 1.5 assists. In most situations, the Blazers will probably play him at the four, and sometimes at the three.
His defensive prowess is what the Trail Blazers have always lacked. Alongside Nurkic, they are gonna make an unstoppable force in the paint on defense.
I would expect Covington to start at the power forward position, and play there most of the season.
The Trail Blazers signed Derrick Jones Jr.
Derrick Jones Jr. is coming off a career year in which he averaged 8.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 1 steal in 23 minutes per game. Not only that but he finished at the rim 74% of the time. DJJ was also top 5 in lowest three-point field goal percentage allowed last season in the entire NBA.
The Blazers signed Jones Jr. to a 2 year, $19 million contract.
He will play the small forward position, maybe power forward in small-ball lineups. On defense, he can guard the one through four, the five in certain situations.
The Trail Blazers re-acquire Enes Kanter
Enes Kanter was a big piece in the Blazers Western Conference Finals run in 2019. Especially, after Nurkic went down. The Trail Blazers General Manager Neil Olshey had brought him in after he was waived by the New York Knicks that year, he was projected to come off the bench and provided good play on both sides of the ball.
In 2019, Enes Kanter had a great year coming off the bench for the Blazers. He averaged 13 points, 8.4 rebounds, 1 assist, 0.6 steals, and 0.4 blocks.
Kanter seems to love the city of Portland.
He arrived back in Portland via a three-team trade. The deal was between Memphis Grizzlies, Boston Celtics, and Portland. In the trade Portland got Kanter, the Grizzlies received Desmond Bane and Mario Hezonja, and the Celtics received a future pick.
The Trail Blazers also picked up Harry Giles III
As for depth at the center position, the Blazers picked up Harry Giles III. As mentioned earlier, the Blazers struggled with finishing at the rim last year. Giles was one of the best in the league in that category finishing at 80%.
Portland actually drafted Giles but traded him for Zach Collins, so it will be nice to see him in a Blazers uniform for the first time.
They brought back Hood and Carmelo Anthony
Both Rodney Hood and Carmelo Anthony re-signed with Portland. This means the Blazers will have their three-point shooters back, hopefully in rhythm.
So how did Portland win the offseason?
The Portland Trail Blazers have always had a top-five offense, with Lillard as their leader but they’ve struggled on defense. Through these additions, the Blazers have become a top 10 defense as well. This means that this team could become very deadly once they get chemistry. Which brings up this question: Will the Portland Trail Blazers be legitimate title contenders next season?
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