The Portland Trail Blazers have entered the win-now segment of Damian Lillard’s career arc. From the the high-dollar contracts at the top of the roster to the acquisition of Robert Covington, the Blazers are operating in a window that emphasizes immediate results. Unsurprisingly, that shift resulted in a move down the list in ESPN’s newest future power rankings.
Inside the list compiled by ESPN’s Kevin Pelton and Bobby Marks, the Blazers slid to their lowest spot since Lillard’s arrival in Portland. ESPN’s future power rankings deliver grades in five separate categories in an effort to provide three-year forecast. The Blazers received a less-than-ideal grade for their recent draft record and they also took a step back in the management section. All together, the Blazers landed at No. 22 in the updated rankings.
This is the lowest the Blazers have been in the Future Power Rankings since August 2012, two months after they drafted Damian Lillard. Lillard has led Portland to seven consecutive playoff appearances, with an eighth likely in the offing, but the Blazers may be trending in the wrong direction, with three starters (Lillard, Robert Covington and CJ McCollum) in their 30s by opening night 2021 and limited financial flexibility. Our rating of Portland’s management also has fallen because of the possibility that Terry Stotts, who has coached the Blazers throughout Lillard’s career, might be replaced unless the team surprises in the playoffs.
You can check out the complete set of rankings at ESPN+ (subscription required).