With two preseason games in the books, the Portland Trail Blazers will spend the next 11 days refining their rotation before the team steps onto the Moda Center floor on October 18 for opening night.
Joe Freeman of the Oregonian believes that while last year’s starting unit of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Maurice Harkless, Al-Farouq Aminu and Jusuf Nurkic will return, the bench is still in flux.
Coach Terry Stotts has also acknowledged this.
”I’ll have to make decisions and settle on something. But I don’t want to get tunnel vision with my ideas,” Stotts said.
Freeman believes Evan Turner, Seth Curry and Zach Collins are expected to take the sixth, seventh and eighth spots in the rotation, but suggests Stotts is undecided on who will fill out the last two (or three) bench spots.
Those who have been able to watch training camp practices see that Nik Stauskas is likely to get the nod at backup guard.
It looks like Nik Stauskas, the No. 8 overall pick of the 2014 draft who has three seasons and 267 games of experience, will be given the first crack to lock down a backup guard spot.
He is expected to be followed by Jake Layman, who has recently started at small forward while Maurice Harkless recovers from his lingering knee injury.
Another player drawing rave reviews is Jake Layman, who will be given an opportunity to play backup forward, particularly if the Blazers elect to feature a small second unit.
If Stotts chooses to run more traditional units with two big men, one of Meyers Leonard or Caleb Swanigan might be called into the breach to partner with Collins in the second unit.
This leaves Wade Baldwin and rookies Gary Trent Jr. and Anfernee Simons, at least initially, getting minutes only when the situation allows for it. But in an 82-game season, every player will be under evaluation and those without heavy minutes can work their way into the rotation with strong play, or even as backup when an injury inevitably pops up.
You can read more from Freeman here.