Portland Trail Blazers 2021-22 Season Preview

The Portland Trail Blazers made the playoffs for the eighth straight season. They were booted out in the first round again, this time by the Denver Nuggets. Will things be different this season? 

Portland Trail Blazers 2021-22 Season Preview

2020-21 Season Recap

Last season was rough for the Blazers. While Damian Lillard is the centerpiece of the team, he had to do more heavy lifting than usual. His backcourt partner CJ McCollum played a total of 47 games while starting center Jusuf Nurkić played 37. Both players sustained injuries that made them miss significant time.

Despite these setbacks, Portland finished with a 42-30 record, which was enough to finish sixth in the crowded Western conference and avoid the play-in tournament. 

Players like Norman Powell, Gary Tent, Jr., Carmelo Anthony, and Enes Kanter provided that extra punch to even get the team that far. 

Portland Trail Blazers Offseason Moves

Lillard is the face of the franchise. As he gets older though, the chance of him being mentioned as an all-time great without a ring increases. So, who did the front office add in the offseason? 

Portland traded for Larry Nance, Jr. Nance is much more than a dunker. He is an athletic big man with a quickly improving outside shot. Also, he is an underrated passer, who will help the offense flow more smoothly. 

The Blazers acquired free agents Ben McLemore, Tony Snell, and Cody Zeller. McLemore provides additional outside shooting, Snell adds wing depth, and Zeller is a serviceable backup big.  

Powell was re-signed to a five-year, $90 million deal. He is a walking bucket, although his lack of size could be problematic playing alongside Lillard and McCollum.

2021-2022 Expectations

The upcoming will be more of the same for Portland. For years, they have been stuck in this limbo of being a good, not great team. It would be incredible if they could finish inside the top six. However, fans should expect another early exit. 

The new players certainly fill important roles, but they are not enough to move the needle. With a longer offseason compared to last year, McCollum and Nurkić should be back to being the regular second and third options. Hopefully, they stay healthy for most of the games.

This team’s offense is incendiary. The defense is a different story. The Blazers had the worst defensive rating last season after the Sacramento Kings. Robert Covington was brought in to address that. He is a versatile defender capable of switching on wings and playing small ball center.

Nonetheless, there are just not enough reliable defenders on the team. When the postseason comes, the undersized backcourt will once again be exploited by better teams.

This is why the pairing of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson was so great. Curry is similar to Lillard. Thompson is a low-usage shooter, who could take on difficult wing assignments.  

Today’s NBA is built on superstars. While McCollum is one of the best players to never be an All-Star, the team does not have enough star power to compete for a ring or come close. 

 

Main Image: Embed from Getty Images


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