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Lowe: Blazers’ Bench Will Be The Key to Success

While Portland’s starters are expected to be solid, it’s the bench that asks the bigger questions.

DENVER NUGGETS VS PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS, NBA PLAYOFFS Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The Portland Trail Blazers will enter the 2021-22 season with continued questions about the construction of the roster. While ESPN’s Zach Lowe professed his belief the Blazers’ starting lineup on the Lowe Post he said he had concerns about the bench unit.

Lowe was in awe of the starters, particularly during the playoffs, but rattled off a disturbing stat that illustrated the reason for the team’s first round loss against the Denver Nuggets.

“And you think, well, they lost in six games to a Denver team that did not have any of its starting guards really.”

“Denver won that six-game series by eight points so Portland was minus eight for the series. Portland’s starting five was plus 47 for the series, that means every other lineup took a big old dump on the court and they were minus 55 in all other lineup minutes.”

He added that while the addition of Larry Nance Jr. was a clear improvement for the bench, there were still questions about the Blazers and their place in the Western Conference.

The thing that made me swing back to where well maybe I’m pessimistic is the rest of the team is like all unproven guys, now maybe this is finally the year Anfernee Simons makes a leap, he’s shown flashes here and there, he’s shot it well here, he didn’t shoot it well there.

Snell hasn’t missed a shot in three years and yet still doesn’t really get a lot of playing time, think about that, think about he doesn’t miss threes or free throws and he still doesn’t play very much, Ben McLemore, fine.

Nassir Little, Cody Zeller as a backup five, I actually think I’d rather use Nance Jr. as a back up five if I could, I’m not sure I can, than Cody Zeller.

Once I get by guy number six, I’m counting on too many unproven guys for my taste or guys that have proven to be not playoff rotation-worthy guys. That worries me.

If I don’t get enough out of Simons, Snell and McLemore as my back up wings, maybe I will, they’re such good shooters playing with CJ and Dame, maybe they’ll just knock down a million shots and this will look foolish.

Then I might have to play RoCo (Robert Covington) more as a three and go Covington, Nance Jr., Nurkic because again this team was the worst defensive teams among teams that were trying to win at the end of the season. And RoCo at the three gets a little creaky, a little slow, a little creaky, a little big, maybe it works defensively and not offensively. I’m not sure ultimately what I think of this team.

It’s the bench to me that is the wildcard, and if the bench doesn’t bring enough, man the west is no joke. I don’t know what I think about Portland.

You can listen here. The Blazers discussion starts at the 60-minute mark.