The Portland Trail Blazers’ starting lineup will presumably go unchanged heading into the 2018-19 season. The nucleus of Jusuf Nurkic, Al Farouq-Aminu, Maurice Harkless, CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard has seen success in the NBA’s regular season, but to this point, not in the playoffs. How do they measure against other starting lineups around the league?
Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley has the Blazers’ first unit ranked 16th among NBA teams:
Given the obvious strengths and weaknesses of the Lillard-McCollum pairing, this isn’t a bad frontcourt to deploy alongside them. Harkless and Aminu can both make open shots and defend multiple positions. Nurkic brings brute force to the interior, and he’s a potent enough scorer (career 17.4 points per 36 minutes) to function as a change-of-pace third option.
But the offense is a tad too reliant on Lillard and McCollum—which the New Orleans Pelicans exploited during their first-round sweep of Portland—and that pair can’t mask its defensive deficiencies. These have been more playoff problems than regular-season worries (this quintet had a plus-7.7 net rating last season), but the degree of difficulty increased again this summer in the overloaded West.
Unsurprisingly, he has the Golden State Warriors’ lineup ranked first overall, followed by the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors. Buckley has the new-look Los Angeles Lakers lineup, featuring LeBron James, ranked eighth overall.
You can check out the complete rankings here.