The Portland Trail Blazers are about to embark on the 2022-23 NBA Regular Season with a boatload of new players in new roles. They’re going to attempt to beat the jinx that’s had them peak in the first round of the NBA playoffs (or worse) for six of the last eight years.
SBNation’s basketball sites are conducting a series of previews today, each site answering the same questions for their own team. Here are the best and worse case scenarios for the Trail Blazers this season.
What’s the ‘Best Case’ scenario for the Blazers?
There’s an outside chance the Blazers win 50. They’ve done it three times since Damian Lillard came on board via the 2012 NBA Draft. Two of those came when LaMarcus Aldridge still roamed the frontcourt, but they also did it in 2018-19, when the progressed to the Western Conference Finals.
Portland’s talent is not insignificant. On paper, they’re set at every position with Lillard, Anfernee Simons, Josh Hart, Jerami Grant, and Jusuf Nurkic all capable of scoring 20 on a given night, a couple averaging near that. But all those players have to click and the Western Conference will need to be weaker than advertised for that to happen.
What’s the ‘Worst Case’ scenario?
Portland’s schedule over the first 20 games is so murderous that a couple decades from now, Netflix will make a controversial mini-series about it. If the Blazers fall in the hole early, morale could plummet. If inexperienced Head Coach Chauncey Billups ends up with a thousand-yard stare, his team will be looking up at the lights in no time. A win total in the 30’s isn’t inconceivable. If injuries plague the team again, especially in the paper-thin frontcourt, a low win total may become a near-certainty.
What’s the ‘Most Likely’ scenario this season?
Right in between the best and worst: 40-43 wins and a trip to the Play-In tournament.
What are you most excited for going into this season?
The answer should be seeing Damian Lillard return to play, but his backcourt mates will be more exciting for their freshness. Anfernee Simons will start as part of a viable lineup for the first time in his career. Shaedon Sharpe is already showing off-the-charts athleticism and will be an edge-of-the-seater every time he takes the floor.
Predict Portland’s win/loss record for the season.
Predict Portland’s conference seeding.
Jerami Grant, Gary Payton II, Shaedon Sharpe, Jabari Walker, Oliver Sarr
Keljin Blevins, Kris Dunn, CJ Elleby, Elijah Hughes, Didi Louzada, Ben McLemore, Reggie Perry, Brandon Williams
Last season’s team record
Last season’s conference ranking
13th in the Western Conference
Last season’s offensive and defensive rating
Offensive 108.8, 27th in NBA
Defensive 117.9, 30th in NBA
You’ve seen our predictions for the season. Make yours below and we’ll see who comes closest to being right!