Portland are in a very interesting place this offseason – losing four of their starting five in one offseason is potentially unchartered waters. Through the entirety of last season, the Aldridge rumours were circling and it was clear that he was leaving before the offseason begun. With this knowledge, the Blazers traded Nicolas Batum for Gerald Henderson and Noah Vonleh (a great trade, by the way) before letting Wesley Matthews and Robin Lopez walk in Free Agency. This meant that four of their starting five from last season were no longer at the club. Instead, they brought in Cliff Alexander, Pat Connaughton, Daniel Diez as well as signing Al-Farouq Aminu and Ed Davis and trading for Maurice Harkless and Mason Plumlee to form a large group of young talent. With a projected starting lineup now of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Al-Farouq Aminu, Ed Davis and Meyers Leonard, there’s enough talent there to keep the Blazers in games this season and not fall to the absolute bottom of the lottery. If Lillard can become a more efficient scorer this season, the Blazers should find themselves competitive, especially with the coaching of Terry Stotts.
Rim protection projects to be an issue this season with Lopez and Aldridge departing. Robin Lopez saved 1.45pts/36mins (per Nylon Calculus) whilst Mason Plumlee and Meyers Leonard, the two replacement centers, last season reached rim protection marks of 0.17 points conceded per 36mins (Plumlee) and 0.25 saved per 36mins (Leonard) respectively. If we combine these two and assume 36 minutes will be spread between them, they will on average save 0.03pts/36mins. A loss of 1.42 on what Lopez provided. This model predicts Portland to come 12th in the West with 32 wins, a position that seems realistic if not optimistic. It’ll certainly be interesting to see the development of Damian Lillard as a main man and also see how Stotts works with this mess he’s been given.
Projected Record: 31-51
My Predicted Wins: 26-31
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