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Staff Roundtable: Can Gary Payton II, Jerami Grant Elevate Blazers?

The BE staff looks deeper into the Payton signing and Grant trade.

Atlanta Hawks v Detroit Pistons Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

With a lot going on in the Portland Trail Blazers organization, we thought it would be a good exercise to get some takes from the Blazer’s Edge staff and bring it into one place.

The purpose of this exercise is to ignite a conversation and have it continue in the comments below, so feel free to chime in with your take on the subject.

For this roundtable, we look at the team’s biggest acquisitions of the summer: Jerami Grant in a trade with the Detroit Pistons, and Gary Payton II, signed in free agency from the NBA champion Golden State Warriors.

Here’s what the staff had to say:

Jeremy Brener

The Blazers have been one of the flashier teams in the first half of the offseason and are really committing to going for a title like they said they would. Gary Payton II is coming off a championship season and fits like a glove with this team. Defense was a massive improvement spot for the team this offseason; Grant and GPII provide improvements in that area.

We saw this past postseason how important defense is to winning a championship, and the Blazers appear keen to ensure that the defense improves this upcoming season.

Adrian Bernecich

That’s the plan isn’t it. This team is still not complete and might not be complete for a while. Grant and Payton II are strong additions for the fact that they both play above-average defense. For a team that has historically been an offensive powerhouse without the ability to stop a toddler getting to the cookie jar, this is a win.

If a Damian Lillard-led Blazers team can offer the same old offense and add the ability to restrain opposing difference makers then I’m ready to watch. We just need to keep our expectations in check because this team isn’t winning it all, just yet.

Ryne Buchanan

Grant and Payton are excellent supporting players, but the Blazers needed another star, or borderline star, to enter into the discussion of legitimate championship contenders. As it stands, this is a play-in team that can top out as a five seed if the stars align.

The backcourt rotation is going to be solid, but the glaring lack of depth in the front court is going to put an incredible amount of pressure on Grant, Jusuf Nurkic and Nassir Little to not only stay healthy, but play to the highest of their abilities if this team is going to go anywhere in the playoffs. That’s a big ask.

Paul Navarre

Absolutely. My biggest frustration with the Olshey years was that obvious needs went unfilled, season after season. The two biggest unfilled needs? A quality power forward and a lock-down defender. Enter Jerami Grant and Gary Payton II. While neither is a bonafide superstar, these two fill the yawning voids in the Blazers’ roster that have plagued them for the better part of a decade. The catch is that the roster has changed dramatically since this time last year, so it may be a case of whack-a-mole. In making deals to hopefully help fix these persistent problems, Portland may have created new ones.