The Trail Blazers will have to navigate through a loaded Western Conference to capture a favorable playoff spot this coming season, and it appears that journey won’t be getting easier for the foreseeable future. ESPN’s Bobby Marks and Kevin Pelton placed Portland in the middle of the pack their recent NBA Future Power Rankings (ESPN+ subscription required).
The Blazers were graded in five separate categories in the rankings: Players, management, money, market, and draft. ESPN’s duo carefully bifurcated Portland’s categories for their list. The Blazers’ highest ranking was in management (tied for No. 11), while they lagged behind in the money category (tied for No. 25).
Along with the rankings, Pelton outlined how Portland’s immediate future could impact Damian Lillard’s tenure with the team.
Lillard has made it clear he wants to believe Portland can contend in the West, adding some urgency to those efforts. If the Blazers are on the borderline of making the playoffs as statistical projections (including RPM) suggest, Lillard’s unhappiness could become an issue, even though he has three years left on his contract.
You can read the full list by visiting ESPN (ESPN+ subscription required).