With free agency essentially finished for the summer, it’s time to start making predictions regarding how the 2018-19 regular season will shake out. ESPN’s forecast panel has the Portland Trail Blazers on the outside looking in:
Projected record: 43-39
Last season: 49-33
This projection will probably be perceived as disrespectful in the Pacific Northwest. But there’s a reason Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum tweeted their displeasure when the Trail Blazers let reserve center Ed Davis leave in free agency. Davis, a valuable, rugged role player, ranked third among the Blazers in win shares last season, behind only Portland’s high-scoring guard duo. Portland likely needs Zach Collins to improve significantly to make the playoffs for a sixth straight season in the loaded West.