Heading into the 2021-22 offseason, Portland Trail Blazers star guard Damian Lillard was transparent in noting that the Blazers as currently constructed weren’t good enough to compete for a championship. Under that ultimatum, Blazers general manager Neil Olshey went out and made modest-but-not-groundbreaking additions to Portland’s roster. In assessing the league in his first Power Rankings following the free agency frenzy, Colin Ward-Henninger of CBS Sports viewed Portland as the team that took the steepest decline improvement-wise.
Ward-Henninger opened his article by praising the ambition of teams such as the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers, before acknowledging the Blazers’ failures in appeasing Lillard’s “highly-publicized pleas for help.” Here’s how he assessed the Blazers, the No. 20 team in his Power Rankings.
“If Damian Lillard wanted to come back from the Tokyo Olympics to a more competitive roster, he’s probably not too thrilled right now. The Blazers might still have a move to make, but for now, bringing back Norman Powell on a $90 million deal was the big splash of the offseason — depending on how you feel about Ben McLemore, Cody Zeller and Tony Snell. The Lillard situation will be monitored intensely over the next couple of months, as Portland appears no closer to a title than it did at the end of last season.”
The offseason remains young, and the official NBA 2021-22 start date, Oct. 19, remains over two months away. Though, as currently rated, the Blazers are slated as the No. 9-ranked team in the Western Conference, essentially Play-In territory. The link to the rest of Ward-Henninger’s rankings can be found above.