The NBA regular season has arrived and it is time to see if the Trail Blazers’ busy summer will bear fruit. From star guard Damian Lillard to 20-year-old center Moses Brown, Blazer’s Edge is delivering a rundown of each player on the roster.
This post highlights the players who are poised to fill significant roles alongside the Blazers’ established core. Stay tuned for all five parts to our 2019-20 season preview.
Mario Hezonja | Forward | Age: 24
Projected Role: The Blazers pursuit of Mario Hezonja finally concluded when the former lottery pick agreed to a team-friendly deal early in free agency. Finally in a situation geared for success, the 24-year-old Croatian has quickly endeared himself to his teammates and the city. On the court, Hezonja’s free-flowing offensive style is a natural fit inside coach Terry Stotts’ second unit. If the Blazers commit to pushing the pace, the former Knicks forward is poised for a career year.
Bold Prediction: If Hassan Whiteside fails to establish himself in the starting lineup, Hezonja poses an attractive option as a starter. Alongside Zach Collins in the post, that duo would provide an abundance of movement next to Portland’s dynamic options on the perimeter.
Kent Bazemore | Guard/Forward | Age: 30
Projected Role: A veteran of eight season, Kent Bazemore escaped Atlanta’s rebuild with an offseason trade to Portland. Don’t let his non-starter status fool you, Bazemore will have his hands full on a nightly basis. Due to the departure of Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu, the former Old Dominion standout is tasked with guarding the most dynamic forwards in the NBA. In the preseason, Bazemore looked ready to carry that burden. He was disruptive on defense and looked comfortable in matchups against larger players—all good signs for the season ahead.
Bold Prediction: Bazemore has come close to reaching the 40-percent threshold on his three-point attempts, but never quite reached that benchmark. The Hawks youth movement and lack of spacing early in the season took a toll on his efficiency last season, plummeting his three-point percentage to 32 percent. Finding open looks shouldn’t be an issue for Bazemore in Portland, paving the way for a career-high mark from distance.
Anfernee Simons | Guard | Age: 20
Projected Role: Anfernee Simons has blossomed from an unknown out of IMG Academy to the shining prospect in the Blazers organization. The Florida native received praise throughout the summer, now he is on the precipice of receiving a significant bump in playing time. After just 141 total minutes in the regular season as a rookie, Simons is slotted to undertake backup guard duties. If Stotts elects to stagger Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum’s minutes, Simons should feast on favorable opportunities from beyond the arc.
Bold Prediction: If the Blazers reach their expectations in the standings, Simons is primed to be in the discussion for year-end awards. Moving from the end of the bench to third guard behind arguably the best backcourt in the NBA should put Simons in the discussion for Most Improved Player and Sixth Man honors.
We want to hear from you. Share your bold predictions in the comments below.