The Trail Blazers face serious questions heading into the 2021-22 regular season. Following an early postseason exit, things have not gone well in Portland. Looking ahead, ESPN’s way-too-early power rankings for next season predict that the Blazers could continue to trend in the wrong direction.
In the updated list from ESPN, the Blazers landed at No. 16. According to ESPN contributor Royce Young, Portland’s offseason troubles are positioned to carry over to the start of the season.
The offseason already has been sloppy for the Blazers, starting with the transition from longtime coach Terry Stotts to Chauncey Billups. Besides the controversial nature of the hire (Billups faced rape allegations in 1997) and the questions over transparency that came with it, the Blazers are in a pinch in trying to satisfy the ambitions of Damian Lillard. General manager Neil Olshey indicated after Portland’s first-round exit to the Nuggets that the existing roster wasn’t the issue, so any changes might be on the fringes, with internal development around Billups’ approach being the focus. But there always looms the nuclear option, with CJ McCollum’s name routinely coming up in trade rumors. Could Olshey make a bold play to try to bump the Blazers back to the top half of the West?
Last season, the Blazers finished at No. 6 in the Western Conference with a 42-30 overall record. In the opening round of the Western Conference Playoffs, the Nuggets eliminated the Blazers in six games.
You can read the complete set of power rankings at ESPN.