The dust has settled from the Trial Blazers’ exit from postseason competition. Free agency, roster construction and the NBA Draft have crept into everyday conversation in Rip City. Before we turn the page on the longest season in the Blazers’ 50-year history, let’s take another look at the players that populated the roster during that journey.
The first three players on this list did not make it through the entire season, but their contributions (or lack of contributions) shaped the first half of the 2019-20 campaign.
Games: 43 (21 starts) | PTS: 7.9 | REB: 4.0 | FG%: 34.7 | 3P%: 32.7
Bazemore’s arrival kicked off a busy summer of re-tooling for the Blazers. In a straight-across move with Atlanta, Evan Turner and Bazemore swapped coasts. Neither player had lived up to the expectations that their lofty summer-of-sixteen contracts suggested. On paper, Bazemore appeared to be the better fit. Only a year removed from a 39-percent shooting mark from beyond the arc, Bazemore appeared to be the complementary two-way forward that Portland coveted.
Unfortunately, Bazemore’s cold shooting from the 2018-19 season carried over to the new campaign. Coming off the bench in the month of November, the former Old Dominion standout failed to bolster the Blazers’ floundering second unit. During that stretch, he registered a double-digit point total just three times as Portland stumbled to a 5-10 record in the league’s first full month of action.
In the aftermath of Rodney Hood’s season-ending injury, Bazemore’s output barely improved. In the second unit Bazemore tried to do too much. With the starters, he couldn’t produce efficiently with the limited looks he received as a tertiary option. Prior to his departure to the Kings, Bazemore posted a 34.7 field goal percentage during his time with the Blazers—a figure that would have been a career-low if it spanned an entire season. In January, I took an expanded look at just how awkward Bazemore’s fit was inside coach Terry Stotts’ offense.
Bazemore’s arrival and eventual departure was not a total loss for the Blazers; his salary was the centerpiece to the trade that netted Trevor Ariza.
Games: 33 (9 starts) | PTS: 3.9 | REB: 3.3 | FG%: 36.8 | 3P%: 33.7
Tolliver fit the bill of a veteran-minimum addition that title-hopeful teams lock up in the offseason. A sharp-shooting power forward armed with experience, Tolliver should have been an acceptable “break glass in case of emergency” option off the end of the bench. Tasked with overcoming Zach Collins’ injury exit and Pau Gasol’s failure to launch, the Blazers were forced to break the glass and the results were not pretty.
Through his first 15 appearances, Tolliver’s production posed the question: how valuable is a stretch four that doesn’t stretch the floor? During that span he connected on just 28.3 percent of his three-point attempts—good for the second-worst percentage on the Blazers (narrowly ahead of rookie Nassir Little). Defensively, Tolliver played over 50 percent of his minutes at center. Undersized and ineffective, his box plus/minus clocked in at a paltry -3.3 during his time in Portland.
Like Bazemore, Tolliver’s time with the Blazers came to a merciful conclusion before the trade deadline.
Games: 33 (1 start) | PTS: 5.8 | REB: 5.1 | BLK: 0.9 | FG%: 55.1
For a brief moment Labissiere got a chance to shine inside the Blazers’ injury-ravaged frontcourt. The 6-foot-10 big fella appeared to be on his way to re-capturing the form that made him a player to watch during his early days with the Kings. In the 15 games following Collins’ injury, Labissiere logged 20-plus minutes on six occasions. In those six higher-usage outings, he reached double digits in all but two games.
Just as Labissiere found his groove with smooth plays from the high post on offense, his season came to an abrupt end. The former Kentucky standout suffered an articular cartilage lesion in his left knee. In a move to free up payroll, Labissiere was shipped to the Hawks at the deadline. He would not suit up again in the 2019-20 season.
Labissiere is slated to hit some form of free agency (possibly restricted) this summer. If the Hawks decided to withhold a qualifying offer, the 24-year-old big man could be an interesting low-cost option for the Blazers.