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Portland Trail Blazers Christmas Gifts: Hope for the Bench

The Blazers were going to be deep, but injuries and veteran play have let them down.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Portland Trail Blazers Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Merry Christmas, Portland Trail Blazers fans! Today Blazer’s Edge is celebrating the holiday in the form of the worst Christmas Song ever written. The staff has compiled a list of gifts suitable for the team, and we’re running them down in 12 posts...with not a partridge or a leaping lord anywhere to be seen. We hope you enjoy the holiday and help us reflect on good wishes for the Blazers!

On the sixth day of Christmas, true fans give to the team...

Hope for the bench guys

Ahhh...September. Portland’s front office and coaching staff were glowing with the prospect of the 2019-20 Trail Blazers being the “deepest team” in their tenure. Injuries have robbed the squad of that potential, but they aren’t the only cause. Executives celebrated in late summer because it appeared they had made sneaky-smart veteran acquisitions in the form of Anthony Tolliver and Mario Hezonja. We at Blazer’s Edge were a bit muted about the potential, but you may remember other folks going crazy at the names.

As it turns out, all of us were wrong. The bench vets have been a disaster. Tolliver is shooting 30.4% from the arc and has a defensive rating so low you’ll have to click through to the cart to see it. Hezonja has become a byword for, “Ooops!” Neither one is getting significant exposure on the court or in write-ups.

Tolliver, at least, has potential to become a meaningful part of the rotation. He’s shown that at prior stops. Here’s hoping he can get some stops in the new year and restore his shooting percentage to its rightful 37%+ mark. We’re also hoping that Hezonja’s production matches his confidence. He does, and will, stand in boldly. That’s admirable. Hopefully results will follow.