With the 2021-22 NBA season now in the history books, the focus has now shifted towards the offseason and 2022-23 campaign.
One day after the Golden State Warriors’ series-clinching win, ESPN’s experts have put together a way-too-early Power Rankings, with the Portland Trail Blazers earning the No. 23 spot.
The panel included nine different analysts, which was said to take into account both player progression and potential movement. One analyst, Ohm Youngmisuk provided this outlook on the 2022-23 Blazers:
“Portland is rebuilding around Damian Lillard after trading away CJ McCollum and Norman Powell last season. Anfernee Simons showed what he can do with a bigger role, and Josh Hart is a nice complementary piece. It remains to be seen what the Blazers do with the No. 7 pick in Thursday’s draft. Portland has some draft assets, trade exceptions and the ability to free some cap space. But the bottom line: Portland has to find talent to surround Dame.”
This ranking would slate the Blazers for No. 12 in the Western Conference. Power Rankings, particularly ones this early into the year, should be taken with a grain of salt. As Youngmisuk notes, it’s certainly possible the Blazers are viewed as much more formidable to the national media come October if they fulfill that idea of building more proven talent around Lillard.