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Trail Blazers Offseason Moves Ranked Seventh-Best by The Athletic

The Blazers played chess while most others played checkers, according to The Athletic’s offseason rankings.

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Denver Nuggets v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

Missing the NBA Playoffs hasn’t been a commonplace occurrence when it comes to the Portland Trail Blazers. Postseason-bound in eight of the last nine seasons, the Damian Lillard-led group will seek to return to contention in 2022-23. A strong offseason — one ranked as the seventh-best by The Athletic’s David Aldridge — could position them to return to respectability.

Aldridge was sure to preface that the seventh-ranked offseason doesn’t necessarily mean the Blazers will be the seventh-best team. Though, he did speak respectfully of what Joe Cronin maneuvered in short timing. In totality, here’s how he assessed Portland:

The Skinny: GM Joe Cronin, raised up to the top spot in the Rose City after former GM Neil Olshey was ousted last December, made good on his plan to surround Lillard with more length and defensive potential. Portland completed its long-rumored acquisition of Grant and didn’t give up all that much to get a 20-point scorer who plays multiple positions.

Payton’s two-way chops were on display for the NBA champs; getting him from Golden State while, again, not giving up the store was solid work. Sharpe is a big “if,” though, having not played at all for Kentucky during his one season in Lexington. There were any number of safer ways to go with such a high pick that would have leaned in further to defense and switchability; Cronin’s betting big on Sharpe’s upside. But the most important thing is Portland’s moves seem to have kept its superstar happy and put any potential wanderlust on his part in check.

This marked the end of the three-part series in which Aldridge ranked each team’s offseason (a subscription is required). All told, only three Western Conference teams ranked higher.