NBA Scouts Unfiltered: Previewing the Blazers season ahead
What to look for this season
In an interview with NBA scouts from around the league, The Crossover broke down the 30 teams in the six NBA regions previewing each of their upcoming seasons.
Scroll through to see what they said about the Portland Trail Blazers…
Read the full article previewing the other 29 teams HERE.
Lillard over anyone (outside of Westbrook)
The continued recognition for Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard keeps on growing.
“Outside of Russell Westbrook, I’d take Lillard over anyone in this division. Westbrook only gets it because of what he’s done in the playoffs. We’ve gotten used to Lillard’s consistency but he needs to make a deep run in the playoffs to take the next step. . . “
This is over Derrick Rose and Jeff Teague (Timberwolves), over Monte Morris, Jamal Murray, and Isaiah Thomas (Nuggets), and over Ricky Rubio and Donovan Mitchell (Jazz).
The rising expectations of Just Nurkic
With big money comes big responsibility. And Jusuf Nurkic got PAID with a sparkly new contract for the Blazers worth $48 million over a 4-year time period. Now, the question comes in: now that Nurkic signed his new contract, what will his effort look like this season? It’s a combination of what he has already brought to the team and what the team now expects out of him for the net four seasons.
“I’m sure they want more from Just Nurkic. Signing a new contract will put more expectations on him as well. He’s shown in pockets that he’s capable of more. . .”
Where to put Zach Collins?
The 2017, first-round draft pick out of Gonzaga continues to impress with each passing game for Portland. But the question begs, where to put him in head coach Terry Stotts’ offense? A four or a five?
“The tricky thing is whether they use Zach Collins as a four or a five. To me, he’s more of a five, but that’s Nurkic’s spot and he’s a stone-cold five. You can’t use him anywhere else. So that limits Collins to a back-up role, or it forces you to play him at the four with Nurkic, which could make for some spacing issues. I think they need to get Collins on the court as often as he can handle."
Dame and CJ for the long haul
Trade rumors spread like a wildfire over the NBA offseason and Blazers guard CJ McCollum’s name came up a lot. Should Portland trade for another veteran? Would they have to break up the dynamic duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum? Where would Jimmy Butler fit in if they went that route? How long will we see these two in a Blazers uniform?
“CJ McCollum is a stud on offense. He’s a dynamic scorer, can shoot it from mid-range and way beyond the arc. He’s one of the craftiest ball-handlers and pick-and-roll guys. He can get better at getting to the free throw line but he’s so crafty that he shifts away from defenders that it sometimes works against him. He’s not huge on seeking out contact. . . . I wouldn’t trade Damian or CJ. Would you rather have Jimmy Butler and his health and attitude questions or have CJ? I’d rather just have CJ and sleep easy at night.”
The new kids on the block
Trades and draft picks. Getting more shooters and building the depth. Over the offseason, Blazers traded for guards Nik Stauskas (Brooklyn) and Seth Curry (Dallas) while drafting rookies Anfernee Simons (IMG Academy) and Gary Trent Jr. (Duke). But at what cost? See you later, Ed Davis and Shabazz Napier.
“I think they’re looking at Seth Curry stepping into Napier’s minutes. He’s a better shooter, a little more dynamic with the ball. He can be a secondary playmaker. . . . Nik Stauskas is better in theory than he is in practice. He’ll get a chance with his shooting but he’s busted out in multiple different situations. Three teams have given up on him. He’s that bad defensively. . . . Gary Trent Jr. is a nice shooter. Decent pick for them. I think he’s a nice fit for Stotts’s system. He’s a guy who can take advantage of a green light.”