Portland Trail Blazers President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey is seeing past moves finally come to fruition this season. After acquiring Pat Connaughton on draft night 2015 and taking a flyer on Shabazz Napier in the 2016 offseason, both have blossomed as role players, providing their own respective spark when needed. With contributions from role players like Napier, Connaughton and Ed Davis, along with stellar play from Damian Lillard, the Blazers sit at No. 3 in the Western Conference.
Amid his team’s recent success, Olshey joined ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on the “Woj Pod” to reflect. Here are some highlights.
On the team’s recent play:
This is the best we have played in 3 years. We have had better runs like last year but as a group and as a collective we have more guys contributing. It’s not about your stars, it’s about what your other pieces will do.”
On what’s made the team click:
We’re lucky to have a technological owner, trying to focus on the draft and get undervalued guys on deals like [Moe] Harkless, [Al-Farouq] Aminu or [Ed] Davis and trusting Terry [Stotts] and his staff … Our team doesn’t have a G-League team so fans don’t get to see the development our players get behind the scenes like we do a la Pat [Connaughton] or [Zach] Collins.
On trying to improve last summer:
We tried this summer by laying our hands out at the draft to get better. We owe it to Dame [Lillard] and CJ [McCollum] to get better and so we are only looking for an upgrade or the best player we can get … We’re very protective of our culture, we not only want the right guys who can play but those that can fit our culture in the locker room and that culture runs by Damian … Because of our location we need to make sure we get the right guys because free agency is hard for us.
On the team’s past relationship with the G-League:
We’re doing studies right now. We had a relationship with a D-League team a flight away in Boise and even though they were our staff we hired, we just didn’t have a positive relationship or control with them. We’re looking to have something in Portland but it’s a small market and we are trying to net out if it is worth it or if it is more important to have them work out with Stotts and our staff.
Editor’s Note: Thank you to Blazer’s Edge contributor Kody Tarbell for the transcription of this podcast.