The Portland Trail Blazers have struggled with injuries in recent weeks, as CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic, and Zach Collins all remain out, but despite that, the Blazers are keeping their heads up and getting wins. Jason Quick of the Athletic takes a look at how, precisely, the Blazers are achieving that feat, thanks to some good moves by President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey. One key piece, notes Quick, is the late-game presence of Carmelo Anthony, which Olshey acknowledged prior to the season.
“Getting Carmelo back was one of the most important things … having a guy who can take, and make, impact shots down the stretch was huge.”
Olshey was also more or less correct regarding Anfernee Simons serving as a backup point guard.
“We have a backup point guard: it’s Anfernee Simons. Ninety-five percent of our possessions last year were played with Dame or CJ at point guard — that’s our model, and we believe Anfernee Simons is as good or better as any of the minimum point guards we’d be able to get.”
And there is little doubt that Enes Kanter has made a distinct impact, especially on the glass, so Olshey scores points there, too.
“Our two biggest challenges (last season) were getting stops and then closing out those possessions with defensive rebounds. I think we’ve added players who fill those needs.”
But really, it is the depth that has mattered most in the face of so many injuries.
“You have to go into the season basing things on worse-case scenario … and we’ve been vulnerable to injury. But we have incredible depth. We want depth, we want versatility, and we think we have both.”
You can read Quick’s entire piece here (subscription required).