The Portland Trail Blazers used a blistering run during seeding game play at the NBA’s Disney World bubble to qualify for the NBA Playoffs, overtaking the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth seed and defeating them in the play-in game. However, despite 2019-20 being an unusual season, Portland faced a usual outcome: They were defeated 4-1 in the first round by the eventual champions, the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Blazers will hope a full season of Jusuf Nurkic next year can help elevate them on both sides of the court. Looking ahead to the 2021 season, Sports Illustrated’s Michael Shapiro has the Blazers ranked at No. 14 on his way-too-early power rankings:
Portland fans can convince themselves that they’re in the Finals hunt with a healthy Jusuf Nurkic next season, but there remain reasons for skepticism. This is still a team bereft of wing talent, one that relied heavily on Carmelo Anthony and Trevor Ariza last season. No disrespect to Damian Lillard, who remains one of the top scoring guards of the 21st century. But teams with tiny point guards have a ceiling without a superb supporting cast. It’s a shame Lillard has never gotten support quite like Stephen Curry. Expect another impressive statistical season followed by a likely early exit in the 2021 playoffs.
Portland is ranked above the Grizzlies (15) but below the 76ers (13). Other Western Conference teams placed ahead of them are the Warriors (11), Jazz (9), Mavericks (8), Rockets (7), Nuggets (5), Clippers (3) and Lakers (1).
Oddsmakers recently gave the Blazers an outside chance at winning the 2021 championship.
What do you think of Portland’s way-too-early ranking heading into next season? Let us know in the comments.