Outside of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, the Trail Blazers re-shaped their roster over the summer in hopes of producing another deep postseason run. President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey wasn’t the only person to stay busy over summer, as several high-profile moves have shuffled the order of the NBA’s elite teams. Those moves, including the ones made by the Blazers, are reflected in Sports Illustrated’s latest power rankings.
SI’s Michael Shapiro supplied both best case and worst case outcomes in Friday’s rankings. The Blazers finished at No. 11. Shapiro cited uncertainty in the moves Olshey executed over the summer in his pessimistic outlook.
Worst case: The moves on the fringes fall flat and Lillard is surrounded by a scuffling group of cast-offs and has-beens. The Al-Farouq Aminu departure may hurt more than assumed. No Jusuf Nurkic could knock Portland out of the postseason.
It wasn’t all bad from Shapiro. His positive outcome pointed to Lillard and his ability to lift the Blazers to contention with a MVP-caliber season.
Best case: Damian Lillard rips off a Curry-esque campaign en route to a top three MVP finish while Hassan Whiteside is both content and effective. Back-to-back conference finals appearances is certainly possible.
You can read Shapiro’s full rankings at Sports Illustrated.