After claiming that the Portland Trail Blazers roster was “blah”, ESPN analysts Zach Lowe has changed his tune. Earlier this month, Lowe claimed, on his Lowe Post podcast, that Portland was mediocre, at best, among 2022-23 season prospects. This morning Lowe, joined by Sports Illustrated’s Chris Herring, reversed his position, following the team’s staggering 4-0 start.
At the beginning of the podcast, presaging his mea culpa, he called out Blazer’s Edge.
“We’re going to get to the Blazers, I know Portland people, I know blazersedge.com, I called you blah, I called the team blah.”
Lowe and Herring dig deeper 29 minutes in.
Lowe: “And Portland is 4-0, seventh on offense that’s not unexpected, ninth on defense, that’s the number.
“Do I believe it? I’m not sure I believe this is a top five team in the west all of a sudden, I’m not sure I believe this is a top 10 defense in the NBA all of a sudden but I’ll say this, they’re not blah, they’re not blah stylistically, they’re a hell of lot of fun to watch, And they’re not blah qualitatively. As currently constituted and we haven’t seen Gary Payton II yet, it’s clear already they’re better than blah, they’re better than the Vegas over-under, which was like 39.5 or 40.5 depending on where you look.
They look like a legit pretty good team, Dame is back, the Simons-only lineups are working mostly because opponents are missing every single shot they take, those lineups are working because of defense but they’re surviving for now. I love the construction of the team, they bet on youth, athleticism and speed and that is showing up. I am just a sucker for teams at two, three, forward, shooting guard through power forward can just play big rangy wings and they’ve got a whole bundle of those.
Herring: The athleticism just kind of jumps off the screen when you watch them.
Last year was the year from hell, from when they hired Chauncey and the questions that surrounded that and they really didn’t answer adequately in my opinion. Whether it was the Neil Olshey stuff and the face that he was the one that made that decision and gets investigated on workplace culture stuff and gets fired over that.
Whether it’s Dame right at the beginning of the season just not looking himself and then figuring out he had that abdominal injury that requires surgery. The painful decision even though it was one I felt they needed to make a couple of years earlier with CJ and moving him.
It was a rough year for people that believed in the Blazers that loved the Blazers. Nothing about that year was fun. Maybe the one upside was that Simons got to spread his wings a little bit.
What stands out to me aside from the fact that guys are kind of firing on all cylinders offensively in some cases and Jerami Grant looks like a great fit. Just generally speaking two, three and four for this team, Hart running in transition, Grant has really grown as a player even if it’s maybe not efficiency wise. Just the idea that he’s willing to do a little a bit more ... is someone that fits this team really well.
Looking at Justise Winslow out there. Generally speaking someone that teams have been reluctant to really believe in that much given his injury history and everything else but has looked really good fit out there every can stay healthy for a team like this
They look they could actually be real, this looks sustainable to me if guys can stay healthy.
They needed to be more athletic in certain spots, I think that was the aim when they had Covington really briefly too. I think he was a little bit overrated has a stopper, I think he’s more of a really good help defender.
And you got Dame back healthy, that alone, and Simons’ jump, that is enough to make them interesting and intriguing.
How well they continue to defend will be a huge factor in whether they’re a contender or not, but they are a lot of fun I’ve really enjoyed watching them so far
Lowe: They’re a ball to watch and GPII fits right into everything we’re talking about, athleticism, speed, he’s not “tall or big” but he’s long and he plays really big. The Winslow at center lineups have been really good in very very small sample size.
I think if there was another reason people were pretty pessimistic about the Blazers, including me, they kind of sold at the lowest possible point on Covington and Norm Powell together back Keon Johnson, some seconds and Justise Winslow as part of that and Justise Winslow maybe becomes a bigger part of the team than we thought.
Herring: The Blazers were exactly the sort of team that should have taken a chance on Shaedon Sharpe really. Someone that has a ton of upside by all accounts, but somebody that everybody’s not sure about. Even if he doesn’t work, he’s exactly the kind of guy they should have taken a chance on.
You can listen to the discussion here, 29 minutes in.