After reaching the Western Conference Finals last season for the first time in a couple decades, the Portland Trail Blazers are ready to kick off the 2019-20 season with a retooled roster surrounding Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
But does Portland’s dynamic duo have enough surrounding talent for an NBA Finals run? Michael Shapiro at SI took a look at the role players surrounding the top duos in the West:
The Blazers will hold a share of stability as long as Damian Lillard leads the franchise, though its been under discussed just how much reconstruction this roster underwent in the offseason. The biggest question exists at the five, where Hassan Whiteside replaces the injured Jusuf Nurkic. Nurkic was a pivotal cog last season, unselfish and efficient, which are two words seldom used to describe Whiteside. Lillard’s previous relationship with Whiteside has a chance to bring out the most of the physical marvel. Whiteside’s personal baggage may get in the way.
There are pockets of interested talents throughout Portland’s roster, with a pair of young wings providing perhaps the most intrigue. Second year guard Anfernee Simons will likely replace Seth Curry as Portland’s third guard spark plug, while North Carolina product Nassir Little may battle Mario Hezonja and Kent Bazemore for forward minutes. The ceiling of this Portland team remains below the West’s top tier. Its core should still hold steady for a playoff appearance.
Other duos covered include Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, James Harden and Russell Westbrook, LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and Steph Curry and Draymond Green.