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Which Trail Blazers Player Qualifies as a “Must-Keep”?

Portland is playing a huge bunch of lower-tier players. Who must stay?

Portland Trail Blazers v Toronto Raptors Photo by Vaughn Ridley/NBAE via Getty Images

The Portland Trail Blazers are 69 games into the 2021-22 NBA season, ensconced in the 12th position in the Western Conference with a 26-43 record. All of the team’s major players aside from Josh Hart are on extended recovery from various injuries. The Blazers now field a roster of players who excite more speculation about the future than hope for the present. They run out a roster mixed with young players on limited contracts and veterans playing for the league minimum, or close to it.

The Blazers won’t do this forever. Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons, Jusuf Nurkic, and Hart will presumably return next season, ready to go. They’ll be joined by potential draft picks and free-agent signings, restoring the upper levels to Portland’s unfinished basement.

Still, players who might populate the supporting cast next year are getting a full audition as we speak. You’ve had the chance to see most of them for more than a month now. You know the vacancies the Blazers will be looking to fill next year, as well as their general need for talent.

Now that you’ve seen all of these candidates on display, we’re going to ask you a simple question. If you could pick ONE player on the following list to return next year, who would it be? The Blazers may (and almost certainly will) retain more than one, of course, but we want to know who your pick would be for the “must not lose” player of the bunch.

Here’s the list:

Keljin Blevins

Greg Brown III

Kris Dunn

CJ Elleby

Drew Eubanks

Elijah Hughes

Keon Johnson

Ben McLemore

Trendon Watford

Brandon Williams

Justise Winslow

and the man Adrian Bernecic wrote about today, Eric Bledsoe.

If you thought the Blazers were going to waive, release, or trade away every player on that list but one, who would be your one to keep? Make your argument in the comment section below.