The Trail Blazers received solid marks for their savvy offseason moves, but the highest praise may have come from NBA analyst Sekou Smith. In an early look at the teams poised to compete for the 2020-21 NBA Championship, the Blazers were included on Smith’s list of eight title-contending teams.
When evaluating the Blazers’ chances, Smith highlighted the players that are set to surround Portland’s foundation of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic.
The Golden State Warriors and Dallas Mavericks could stake their own claim to a top-four spot this season. But both have significant injury issues (Klay Thompson for the Warriors and Kristaps Porzingis for the Mavericks) to deal with. And the Phoenix Suns made their splash with Chris Paul, but sooner or later Neil Olshey and his front office crew in Portland will get credit for building the foundation they have around Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic. The Blazers have filled out their roster with type of talent and depth that pushes them over the top right now. The forward rotation of Covington, Derrick Jones Jr., Carmelo Anthony (re-signed), Rodney Hood (re-signed) and sleeper pick up Giles stabilizes the only spot on the roster that was vulnerable heading into the offseason. Gary Trent Jr. and Anfernee Simons have shown tremendous growth and fortify a second unit that would include Anthony, Hood and Kanter. That’s depth the other contenders for this spot simply don’t have as training camp nears.
In the 2019 NBA Playoffs, the Blazers marched to the Western Conference Finals. Once there, they were dispatched by the Warriors. Last season, the Blazers finished with a 35-39 record. In the postseason, coach Terry Stotts’ squad exited the playoffs after five games against the Lakers—who went on to win the 2020 NBA Championship.
You can read Smith’s complete analysis at NBA dot com.