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Designing the Ultimate Player for the Portland Trail Blazers

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What characteristics would the Blazers add to create the ultimate lineup?

NBA: All Star Game Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers have a team composed of great players, but one key position could get them over the hump to become a championship favorite. Their best forwards this decade have been Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge. They later turned to Al-Farouq Aminu and Maurice Harkless, before acquired aging, but serviceable Trevor Ariza and Carmelo Anthony this past season. In all that time, the Blazers have never really had a dynamic two-way forward. If I could construct an ideal player for the Blazers right now, it would definitely be an elite two-way Small Forward.

Characteristics

Having the ability to shoot the three-ball and space the floor is an important factor to offenses. An elite two-way small forward would propel the Blazers to higher heights. One of the biggest struggles offensively for the Blazers has been a lack of creators outside of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Stopping those two puts the offense to a halt and disrupts continuity.

Let’s name this player Anon (Anonymous). Anon would possess a nice height (7’0”), big wingspan (7’7”), great shooting ability, ability to create for himself offensively, great passing ability, and having defensive prowess (sound familiar?). A player with these characteristics helps have a third dynamic offensive player to not encounter a lack of rhythm. This would definitely relieve pressure off Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. With possessing a 7’0” height and 7’7” wingspan, it would also provide another paint protector and disruptor, defensively, making Anon a versatile player. This team could resemble the Warriors’ starting lineup and ‘The Hamptons Five’ late in games, but possibly even better.

Warriors: The Hamptons Five

The original ‘Death Lineup’ the Warriors used with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes, and Draymond Green really started the positionless basketball and saw two straight finals appearances. They let Harrison Barnes walk and obtained Kevin Durant to create ‘The Hamptons Five’ and saw three straight finals appearances, almost three-peating. The Warriors were already a great team before Kevin Durant, but his presence allowed more space for their offense with less help from defenders and being able to switch, defensively. This lineup was used a lot late in games to create mismatches with more perimeter defense and players that could run the floor well.

Not only do the Blazers have Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Anon that can create great offense, but Gary Trent Jr., Trevor Ariza, Anon, and Jusuf Nurkic, whom all can defend at a high level. Anon definitely fills that void and adds an identical versatile skillset to that of Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo with two elite offensive guards and a great center.

Interchangeable Lineups

In the modern-day NBA, smaller lineups have become very significant to success. The unique physical attributes of Anon would make him interchangeable to play multiple positions with the ability to create unique lineups. This is where mismatches player a huge part against opposing teams. A starting lineup could look like:

  • Damian Lillard
  • CJ McCollum
  • Anon
  • Zach Collins
  • Jusuf Nurkic

And imagine a lineup on the floor late in games of:

  • Damian Lillard
  • CJ McCollum
  • Gary Trent Jr./Trevor Ariza
  • Anon
  • Jusuf Nurkic

There could also be interesting lineups of:

  • Damian Lillard
  • Gary Trent Jr.
  • Trevor Ariza
  • Carmelo Anthony
  • Anon

or

  • Damian Lillard
  • CJ McCollum
  • Gary Trent Jr.
  • Trevor Ariza
  • Anon

or

  • Damian Lillard
  • Gary Trent Jr.
  • Trevor Ariza
  • Anon
  • Jusuf Nurkic

This would create nightmares for the opposition with different lineups that Terry Stotts could deploy and find mismatches.

A dynamic versatile Small Forward is very rare in today’s NBA that can be placed at multiple positions and when you think of them its really only Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and LeBron James. Adding in the defensive prowess, it’s only Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

If you haven’t guessed it, Anon is basically a fusion of Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Anon would make the Blazers have the best offense in the league and the defense would increase tremendously. With the perfect, hypothetical player, the Blazers could certainly claim “favorites” status coming out of the Western Conference and winning it all.