ESPN and CBS Sports both released their top 100 player rankings heading into this upcoming season with each list featuring a few Portland Trail Blazers.
ESPN’s list ranked the top 100-26 players with the top 25 coming at a later date.
The most notable missing players were Josh Hart being left off both lists, and Jusuf Nurkic coming in at 88 on ESPN’s rankings, but being absent from CBS Sports’ list.
Here’s a look at where the Blazers ranked:
Anfernee Simons was ranked on both lists, coming in at 91 on ESPN’s list and at 80 on CBS Sports’ list. James Herbert of CBS Sports cited Simons’ breakout as a starter as a reason for his spot on the list.
His stats in 30 games as a starter: 22 points and 5.5 assists in 34.3 minutes with a usage rate of 26 percent and a true shooting percentage of 60 percent. On the season, he made 51.4 percent of his catch-and-shoot 3s, which bodes well for his ability to play off Damian Lillard in the starting lineup.
The only other Blazers player to make both lists was Jerami Grant. Grant came in at 67 on CBS Sports and 64 on ESPN. ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk reasoned that Grant’s defensive prowess will help the Blazers this season, even if his role in the offense takes a hit.
While he might not get the 17.3 shots per game he averaged in 2020-21 with Detroit, Grant’s skill set makes him a valuable contributor for a playoff contender and someone who should have no problem fitting in alongside Lillard. He can hit open shots and gives Portland a long defender and experience in the frontcourt.
Damian Lillard came in at 13 on CBS Sports’ list, and did not make an appearance on the first installment of ESPN’s list, which means he is in the top 25. CBS Sports writer Brad Botkin makes the case for Lillard’s ranking despite his injury ridden last season.
Body of work lands Lillard in the top 15 despite what was basically a throwaway 2021-22 season. Dame’s last two full seasons saw him score 28 and 30 points per game, respectively, on 39 and 40 percent 3-point shooting on over 10 attempts per game. Moreover, Lillard has been at his best in crunch time. In 2020-21, his 162 total clutch points led the league, and he did so on 51 percent shooting while leading the Blazers to a plus-100 mark.