Best-case scenario: The returns of Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins don’t just make the Blazers better in terms of talent and depth, it also reconfigures their entire identity. They are a big team, with coach Terry Stotts willing to go extra big with Nurkic and Hassan Whiteside playing together. The Blazers’ top seven players are pretty good, and they can take the Lakers to seven games as the No. 8 seed, setting the table for a strong 2020-21 season.
Worst-case scenario: The Blazers’ defensive struggles aren’t solved by the big-man boost, and the Blazers slip further away in the seeding games, never even making a legitimate push to force a play-in tournament.
Meanwhile, CBS Sports has Portland rising to 18th, up one spot from last week.
The Blazers were energized in their first scrimmage games as Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins looked great in their returns. The chemistry between Nurkic and Damian Lillard was on display immediately, and the Blazers are going to be a tough matchup with their frontcourt size and backcout scoring. Their schedule makes it tough to catch the Grizzlies for the No. 8 spot, but if there’s any team that can catch lightning in a bottle for eight games, it’s the Blazers.
Nurkic has looked quite good in the scrimmages. He and Whiteside sharing the court together has had some issues, but didn’t look like a complete disaster against Toronto.
The Trail Blazers officially resume their season against the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday afternoon.