Trail Blazers

Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum delighted by Blazers newly added athleticism

Trail Blazers
USA Today Images

Now that Portland has added versatile wings that bring the defensive skills and mindset the Trail Blazers have needed, it has everyone buzzing about the new additions.

The frontcourt depth is there this season.   

I’d rather have a lot of bodies than not enough bodies.

CJ McCollum

Download and subscribe to the Talkin' Blazers Podcast

Yep, that’s never a bad thing.

And with all the possible lineups and rotations to consider for this season, Blazer fans are not alone in their excitement of endless possibilities.  

Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts is eager to see how the new additions fit in, adding, “it is exciting about the possibilities,” of different lineups out there.

Having a healthy Jusuf Nurkic with Rodney Hood and Carmelo Anthony re-signing is already a better start to this year than the Blazers had last season.

But now, after the Trail Blazers acquired Robert Covington and traded for Enes Kanter from the Celtics in a three-team deal before signing forward Derrick Jones Jr., and dont forget Portland wrapped up free agency with big man Harry Giles, thats a well-rounded frontcourt of additions.

 

I am excited about getting Covington… And getting Derrick Jones, I think they add some versatility to the lineup.

Coach Terry Stotts

After the Trail Blazers left the Orlando, Florida Bubble at the end of August, there was a lot of chatter on how Portland's backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum needed help on the wing.

They got it.

And they’re looking forward to seeing how the pieces fit.

McCollum, like many Trail Blazers fans, gave props to Trail Blazers President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey for his offseason moves.

I thought Neil did a great job, continuing to make a lot happen with not a lot of assets being moved... Covington -- you look at what he can do right away, defensively, three and D guy, he’s got length, he can play a lot of positions.

CJ McCollum

Lillard explained that he has talked to management about going all in and the winning now mentality as he gets set for his prime years in the league.

Does he believe the additions of Covington, Jones Jr., and co. could help them reach that goal of bringing the Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy to Rip City

Time will tell.

“I think it improved our chances and it’s hard to say,” Lillard said. 

[RELATED]: Trail Blazers won the offseason with key moves, signings

It’s been apparent this offseason that bolstering the Blazers' defense was a focus heading into the 2020-21 season.

Lillard and McCollum both emphasized the value of new defensive additions.

“We’ve been top five in offense historically when we’re healthy, regardless of who we put out there alongside of us” McCollum explained. “So being able to be better defensively, having like-minded guys who can switch and kind of play a role is important.”

 

Lillard reiterated what his backcourt mate had to say.

We’ve never had a problem scoring the ball. I think we’ve always been a good offensive team. Defensively -- is where we’ve been pretty inconsistent and we’ve added two really good wing defenders, great athletes, they both have experience. They both take that challenge and I think they elevate us on the defensive end of the floor.

The duo is also super high on high-flying Derrick Jones Jr.

You look at Derrick Jones Jr., who is a super athlete as athletic as anybody in the league, great length, loves to guard the best player on the opposing team, he can rebound, just brings that excitement.

Damian Lillard

D. Jones can play a lot of positions. He’s athletic, he can guard.

CJ McCollum

McCollum also mentioned that bringing Enes Kanter back after Kanter played in Boston for a year has added value to this current roster, saying he's a “guy who is very capable of averaging a double-double... Defensively he did a terrific job a couple of years ago of guarding pick and rolls without Nurk in the lineup and he kind of gives us another look.”

As for the young Harry Giles, McCollum says he “likes him a lot” and he has been watching Giles since he was younger.

But back to the thought process of the all or nothing mentality, Lillard is certainly optimistic.

Winning a championship is the end goal and Lillard is ready to see how the pieces fit into chasing that goal.

If all goes well and they fit just right with our team, it’s possible, so we shall see. 

Yes, we shall, Dame. Yes, we shall.