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Will The Real Contenders Please Stand Up?

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Isaiah De Los Santos joins the podcast to work his way through the Western Conference and try to figure out who is a contender (and who isn’t)

Portland Trail Blazers v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Blazers Edge writer and editor Isaiah De Los Santos joins the podcast to help us sort out the NBA Western Conference as we head into the first big event of the NBA off season--the 2019 Draft. But wait! First we have to discuss the Anthony Davis trade to the Los Angeles Lakers. Did the Pelicans come out on top with all of their future draft picks? Will two super stars be enough for the Lakers? Will they sign Kemba Walker to complete their reset? And how are they going to fill out the rest of the roster? What does this trade mean for the Trail Blazers and their hopes of resigning their free agents?

Then we try to read the tea leaves to predict what the Trail Blazers will do on draft night. Is this draft different than others? What characterizes the players in this draft? And how do teams evaluate talent when more positionless players are coming along each year?

Finally we do our best to figure out which teams in the west are contenders. There is a lot going on and many moving parts but what is certain is that nothing will be the same. Listen to us try and figure it out and let us know what you think.

Download the episode.

Highlights

1:00 Catching up with Isaiah De Los Santos

3:30 The Raptors hadn’t even had their parade yet before Anthony Davis was traded to the Lakers.

5:00 Kevin Durant’s injury and the implications for his contract year.

8:00 How do these injuries change the off season? It makes the western conference seem way open.

10:30 How will the Golden State Warriors look when it is just Steph Curry and Draymond Green? How will Curry react to double and triple teams that Damian Lillard faces every year?

11:30 Teams in the West are probably more emboldened than they have been in a while to take a big swing.

13:00 Reactions to the Anthony Davis trade. Did anyone win? When will we know?

17:00 Rumors about the fourth pick still in play. The Bulls seem to like Lonzo Ball.

20:00 How does the Anthony Davis trade impact any of the Blazers free agents that they might be trying to resign? Seth Curry would be a good fit alongside LeBron James because he is a shooter who can work off of the ball, is good in pick and rolls.

22:30 Any hints of other trades coming down the wire? Teams are letting other teams know which players they are willing to move, but people don’t seem to be pursuing players already under contract.

25:00 With major injuries to Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, might teams go for short term contracts one more year while they wait to see if those players return back to form? It's possible they might do some front-loaded contracts. Guys might be looking for the security of longer contracts with these recent injuries.

30:00 Blazers going into the draft. How will they use their first round pick? The guys they have brought in for workouts seems like are more likely to be drafted in the second round. Dan believes that in the 72 hours leading up to the draft the Blazers will be looking to move an expiring contract along with their first round pick for a player of consequence that fits a need an also clears some salary space.

34:00 Admiral Schofield is someone who would be a nice fit in Portland. He’s got a lot of skills that would fit their need. Good three point shooter and excellent locker room guy. But would he play? Dan thinks that if he was drafted he would play. Belmont’s Dylan Windler is another player that fits the Blazer profile of four year college player who can shoot.

38:30 It seems like this draft is different from others because there is such a huge drop off after the top three picks. Dan thinks there will be a lot of good rotation players in this draft. Could the draft be harder predict now because players are coming in with broad skill sets, positionless players who can do lots of things and its harder to compare them to each other? 2013 Draft was all over the place, with Anthony Bennet going number one, CJ McCollum number ten, and Rudy Gobert at 27.

41:30 Teams are ranking players very differently as well, one team has a player being selected 16 and another team has him pegged for 40. Is it because the players fit different needs or do teams just evaluate players differently?

44:00 Who are the contenders in the West? Isaiah sees a lot of fringe contenders, like the Denver Nuggets and the Utah Jazz (if they can get a point guard), its harder to figure out who the real contenders are. He would say cautiously it is probably the Lakers who have the best chance.

49:00 Dan has the Blazers in the top tier along with Denver and both Los Angeles teams but none of them seem like definite contenders.

55:00 Tara swears never to make another baseball analogy again. If there IS going to be a lot of movement, will continuity pay off? Toronto had a lot of new players and that was why they won. Dan points out that it is possible that continuity can be bad, for example the Knicks. But last year saw Toronto go for it and it worked, so expect other teams to try the same.

Find us on Twitter: Isaiah is @Isaiahdelos and @SLAMrewind, Tara is at @tcbbiggs, and Dan is @dmarang