The Golden State Warriors have eliminated the Portland Trail Blazers two years running in the NBA Playoffs. According to ESPN, prospects aren’t good for the Blazers should the two meet again. In a “Warriors vs. the NBA” power ranking feature published today, the network projects Portland with the 17th-best chance of dethroning the champions out of 30 NBA teams. ESPN claims that the obvious best choice to defeat the Warriors is another Warriors squad. Disallowing clones, androids, and time machines, the Houston Rockets stand the next best chance. Portland ranks below the Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Utah Jazz, and Charlotte Hornets. According to ESPN’s Kevin Pelton, any potential upset bid revolves around center Jusuf Nurkic.
The key to the Blazers? Jusuf Nurkic. Seriously. His acquisition helped pushed Portland — which went 14-6 with Nurkic — into the playoffs before an injury sidelined him for all but 17 minutes of a first-round sweep by the Warriors. A healthy Nurkic (15.2 PPG 10.2 RPG 1.9 BPG and 1.3 SPG in those 20 games) gives the Blazers an interior counterweight to guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum (projected 52.2 PPG combined) and at least a fighting chance against the mighty Dubs.
Fair enough, but below the Hornets??? Check out the other teams in the feature and see if you agree. Where should the Blazers be ranked? Weigh in below.