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Off-Season Moves May Give the Blazers a Chance to Contend

Sam Quinn of CBS says that Portland is fielding their best Lillard-based lineup ever.

NBA: Preseason-Portland Trail Blazers at Phoenix Suns Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers had a busy off-season, tasked with improving the roster with Damian Lillard’s uncertain future looming over their heads. CBS Sports’ Sam Quinn ventures to say that with their summer moves, this year may be Portland’s best chance to truly contend with Lillard.

Quinn begins with highlighting the great play of the Blazers’ starters when they combined as a five-man unit last year.

The starters were dominant on both ends. The offensive formula isn’t hard to explain. Typically lineups featuring three high-end ball-handlers, four shooters, a versatile big man who can roll and pass all tied together by an MVP candidate should be able to score.

He also mentions the odd case of the defensive prowess of that lineup, something that seems to defy all odds.

Lineups with such limitations in terms of size and mobility don’t allow 104.1 points per 100 possessions. If the starters can sustain that, Portland can genuinely contend.

Quinn then goes on to say that the bench was the biggest issue with Portland’s previous roster, as the defense of the bench was downright abhorrent. He brings up the addition of Larry Nance, and how he should be enough to improve the Blazers’ bench defense.

Cleveland was historically bad defensively without Nance, but with him, it was just fine. If his impact on the Blazers is at all similar, then Portland’s stellar offense should be more than enough for a top-six seed. Nance is essentially Portland’s dream role player.

Quinn mentions Anfernee Simons, saying that the former first round pick seems the most likely to breakout this year.

Once the youngest player in the NBA, Simons has flashed serious potential in spurts, but it has never materialized over an extended period. With restricted free agency looming, it will have to now.

He also brings up Dennis Smith Jr. and Nassir Little as other young players that could shine in an increased role. You can read the entire article here.