The NBA season kicks off in just over three weeks, and preseason power rankings are starting to emerge. Bleacher Report and The Athletic both rated the Trail Blazers as improved from last season.
Bleacher Report ranked Portland 13th overall:
The Portland Trail Blazers will be one of the league’s most improved teams after finishing last year four games below .500.
A healthy Jusuf Nurkic will be the biggest reason, but a revamped set of wings will play a big role, as well.
Robert Covington is a perfect fit at either forward position as a 29-year old coming off playoff averages of 11.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 1.1 blocks and a 50.0 percent mark from three. Rodney Hood and Derrick Jones Jr. give the Blazers scoring and depth, and Carmelo Anthony should now be asked to do far less at age 36.
Enes Kanter gives Portland insurance behind Nurkic, and Harry Giles III (22) was a no-risk signing with significant potential.
While the Blazers didn’t do much to improve their league-worst assist rate (48.8 percent), this roster is still far better than last year’s.
David Aldridge of the Athletic set his power rankings to only consider what teams have done since the end of last season. He had Portland ranked second:
Efficient work by the Blazers in adding quality players for not much money. Covington brings his versatile D and floor-stretching abilities; Kanter is a bucket off the bench and can start in a pinch if injuries again hit Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins; Jones is insanely athletic, and while he fell out of Miami’s rotation by the time the playoffs came around, he was in it most of the season, so you know he can defend well enough. Taking a flier on Giles and betting on your medical staff to get him right after years of injuries is a low-risk gamble with a big potential upside. Whether ‘Melo plays in 60 games or six, his value on the bench and in the locker room is immeasurable. And he showed last season he can still make some big shots if you need them.