As the regular season draws to a close, Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated assigns grades to all 30 NBA teams based on performance relative to expectation, as well as off-season transactions, accounting for major injuries. The Portland Trail Blazers earned a C+ for their roller coaster of a year. Here is what Golliver had to say:
With all due respect to the Wizards and Heat, the Blazers pulled off this year’s best in-season salvage job and it’s not particularly close. Why? Consider the possible wreckage if Damian Lillard and midseason addition Jusuf Nurkic hadn’t combined to help Portland squeak in as the West’s No. 8 seed. GM Neil Olshey would have surely been on the hot seat after spending hundreds of millions of dollars on marginal talent last summer. Coach Terry Stotts, despite his immense popularity, would have been in serious jeopardy given how the league treats teams that regress out of the playoffs and struggle to stop anybody. The possible breakup of the Lillard/CJ McCollum pairing might have dominated off–season discussion given their overlapping strengths and weaknesses. The search for a viable center would have continued while the front office did its best to unload multiple underperforming players on bloated deals. If the Blazers had kept spiraling, it’s not insane to think that Olshey, Stotts, McCollum, Evan Turner, and Allen Crabbe all could have been victims of a teardown. Regardless of how many of those names survived, something definitely would have had to give.
You can read the rest of Golliver’s assessment by following the link above, including analysis of the Blazers’ outlook heading into next season, and grades for the best of the best, the worst of the worst, and every team in between.