On paper, the Trail Blazers have built a roster focused on winning during Damian Lillard’s prime. Regardless of that overall team direction, Portland has assembled a solid group of players that are under the age of 25. While they didn’t top the list, The Ringer’s Zach Kram highlighted what Derrick Jones Jr. and Gary Trent Jr. bring to the Blazers in his league-wide rankings of young cores.
The Blazers finished at No. 22 on the list. Kram touched on Jones, Trent and Zach Collins when he framed Portland’s placement.
Portland’s top three U25 players show three different ways that young players can enter the league. Jones was undrafted in a league with more undrafted success stories than ever before. He arrived in free agency this offseason as a raw but improving player who showed flashes in Miami, especially as a long-armed menace at the top of Erik Spoelstra’s zone. Gary Trent Jr. (11.4 projected WAR) was a second-round pick who went to Portland in a draft-night trade in 2018, then worked his way through the G League before breaking out in the bubble, where he shot 48 percent on 6.7 3-point attempts per game. And Zach Collins (7.5 projected WAR) was a top-10 pick who played for Portland right away, but now profiles as the worst of the three, as injuries have stalled his growth as a stretch big. Plying all three levels of the draft—top, bottom, and outside entirely—has given Portland perhaps its deepest roster in the Lillard era.
CJ Elleby, Harry Giles, Nassir Little and Anfernee Simons represent the rest of the under-25 players on the Blazers’ current roster.
You can read the complete list of young cores at The Ringer.