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Trail Blazers Rotation Evokes Plenty of Questions

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Jason Quick of The Athletic shares his thoughts about how minutes will settle out in Portland.

NBA: Playoffs-Portland Trail Blazers at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers will enter the 2019-20 season with a completely new mid-rotation lineup. Newcomers Kent Bazemore and Hassan Whiteside will need to mesh with 2019 acquisition Rodney Hood and upwardly-mobile youngsters Zach Collins and Anfernee Simons.

In a recent article, Jason Quick of The Athletic offered thoughts on the shape of the roster as the season starts [subscription required]. After dealing summarily with the obvious parts of the starting lineup, Quick delves into the question of whether Kent Bazemore or Rodney Hood gets the nod at small forward.

One of the interesting developments in training camp and the preseason will be how Hood and Bazemore fit with the players around them. Maybe Bazemore clicks with Lillard and McCollum and Hood develops a synergy with Simons … or maybe vice versa. That cohesion and style of play will largely determine which way Stotts goes at starting small forward, but my sense is Hood will begin camp as the starter because of his familiarity with the system and many of the players.

Quick also addresses the Topic of the Moment, praising Simons’ performance in Summer League and suggesting that the Blazers are mightily impressed with his scoring ability. In the Damian Lillard-CJ McCollum era, reserve guards don’t get big opportunities...a reality that plagued Shabazz Napier and Seth Curry over the past two seasons. Quick suggests the landscape could change for Simons:

...the Blazers believe Simons is a much better player than Napier or Curry, as their analytics after two years of Summer League project him on or above the same path of Lillard and McCollum. Perhaps the most encouraging analytic: a 98.6 defensive rating in nine Summer League games.

Quick also talks about the absence of Jusuf Nurkic and the importance of Collins as his replacement before concluding that Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts will have a complex, but enviable, task sorting out all of this.