The Portland Trail Blazers have reshuffled and retooled their roster following an appearance in the Western Conference Finals. With major splashes being made in the draft and free agency by other teams around the NBA (especially in the West), Ben Rohrbach of Yahoo Sports ranked 10 possible championship contenders next season. Portland came in at No. 9:
Things broke awfully well for the Blazers this past season, only to get swept by the Durant-less Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals. The Warriors, Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz all landed on the opposite side of the West playoff bracket, and it still took a career night from C.J. McCollum to overcome a 17-point deficit against the Denver Nuggets in Game 7 of the conference semifinals.
I have them here because I believe that riding McCollum and Damian Lillard could benefit them in a season when most of the more serious contenders are reworking the tops of their rosters. The emergence of Anfernee Simons might make Portland’s guard rotation the most dangerous in the league, which in turn might bring out the best in wings Kent Bazemore and Rodney Hood, as well as the center crop of Zach Collins, Hassan Whiteside and (eventually, maybe) Jusuf Nurkic. It would take a whole lot of luck, but Lillard and McCollum have done a good job making their own.
You can read the full rankings here.