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Damian Lillard trade rumors created a deceiving perception of Blazers, who remain a good and dangerous team

After a summer time of Damian Lillard commerce rumors primarily based round the concept the Portland Trail Blazers are merely not a championship crew, it has grow to be straightforward to go too far with the takes. No, the Blazers wouldn’t seem like an upper-class contender. However they’ve an opportunity to be a top-four seed within the Western Convention as constructed, and that may be a actually good crew. 

As soon as once more, GM Neil Olshey caught to the perimeters of roster enchancment. When Portland introduced in Robert Covington and Derrick Jones Jr. final season, the thought was to place extra defensive punch and flexibility round Lillard and CJ McCollum, however Jones simply did not have the identical sort of defensive affect that he had in Miami, the place he was part of a larger defensive sum. The offense additionally tanked with Jones on the court docket. 

Larry Nance Jr. represents the identical thought as Jones — an athletic defender who can cowl the inherent holes in Lillard-McCollum protection — however he is a far superior participant. He is a ball hawk defensively, 99th percentile in steal share, per Cleansing the Glass. He is a terrific passer and a legit shooter. 

Nance’s offensive rebounding fell off in Cleveland, the place he had a much bigger function with the ball, however he was a monster on the glass early in his profession with the Los Angeles Lakers and I might count on that to return with a extra roaming function for the Blazers. He’ll create lots of additional possessions. 

Nance additionally offers new Blazers coach Chauncey Billups extra lineup choices. They will go small with Nance and Covington within the entrance court docket, and the depth can be higher. That final half is important. After the addition of Norman Powell — whose $90 million deal to remain in Portland was Olshey’s greatest transfer this summer time — the Blazers’ beginning lineup pounded groups by 14.2 factors per 100 possessions, per CTG, which ranked second league large behind solely Philadelphia’s beginning 5 amongst lineups with a minimum of 700 minutes of court docket time. 

Billups may deliver Nance off the bench, or he may transfer Powell to sixth man and use Nance to raise the protection of the beginning unit, which nonetheless has greater than sufficient offense with Lillard, McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic. I just like the latter possibility. Have two of Lillard, McCollum and Powell on the court docket at just about all occasions is a large leg up in opposition to opposing bench items that will not must be totally offense dependent as they have been with Enes Kanter and Carmelo Anthony

All this mentioned, Nance is probably going not going to be the distinction between the Blazers being an excellent regular-season crew, which they’ve already been for principally the final decade, and a real contender. I might nonetheless be a McCollum commerce. If Ben Simmons is in play for a package the Blazers can offer, I would be going after him exhausting if I have been Olshey. 

Barring a shake-up like that, or a bracket that breaks excellent, or a bunch of accidents to different groups, the Blazers’ finest shot at a non-circumstantial, deep postseason run stays Lillard going nuclear. It is at all times been that means. As a Lillard defender to the dying, I like that problem. It stays refreshing in a league the place shortcuts are the brand new means. Personally, if I have been Lillard, I would quite stick with the Blazers and are available up brief than be a part of, say, the Golden State Warriors or Lakers and win a hoop. 

However I am not Lillard, who will probably be wrestling with this dilemma by way of the primary few months of the season. It may get fairly tense if the Blazers come out chilly. They’ve to remain wholesome and set up some good early vibes. In the event that they try this, the Blazers are, as soon as once more, harmful. Watch out about letting the notion created this summer time cloud that actuality. 

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https://www.cbssports.com/nba/information/damian-lillard-trade-rumors-created-a-deceiving-perception-of-blazers-who-remain-a-good-and-dangerous-team/ | Damian Lillard commerce rumors created a deceiving notion of Blazers, who stay an excellent and harmful crew

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