Sports Illustrated writer (and Blazer's Edge alumni) Ben Golliver teamed with Rob Mahoney to release SI's yearly list of the Top 100 players in the NBA going into the 2015-2016 season.
Only one current Portland Trail Blazers player made the list: two-time All-Star Damian Lillard. He was ranked 24th, just behind the Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving.
Lillard fell slightly after being ranked 22nd last year. He improved in key areas, averaging career highs in points, rebounds, and steals, but saw his assists and three-point percentage drop off. His two-spot fall reflected the loss of his fellow four Portland Trail Blazers starters, all of whom are ranked in the Top 100. But they did not rule out a surprising season.
Perhaps the best-case scenario sees Lillard blasting past expectations on a one-man warpath, a la Russell Westbrook last season, and carrying his young squad to the outskirts of the West’s playoff chase.
But is the 25-year-old Lillard, a two-time All-Star and 2015 All-NBA Third Team selection, up to the task?
The only other Blazer to come near the Top 100 is Mason Plumlee, who was acquired on draft night from the Brooklyn Nets. He was listed among the "notable omissions", with remarks about his improved situation with a young Portland squad versus an older Nets team. Golliver wrote:
Plumlee will take his feeds from All-Star Damian Lillard, who has every reason to cultivate interior scoring options following the departure of LaMarcus Aldridge. This could all set up very nicely for Plumlee, 25, who was productive last season (14.8 points and 10.6 rebounds per 36 minutes) and will be extension-eligible next summer.
SI.com will release the list of their Top 10 NBA players soon.
Here were the former Portland Trail Blazers players who made the Top 100 list:
- Wesley Matthews (Dallas Mavericks): #99
- Robin Lopez (New York Knicks): #84
- Nicolas Batum (Charlotte Hornets): #55
- Zach Randolph (Memphis Grizzlies): #49
- LaMarcus Aldridge (San Antonio Spurs): #12