Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NBA. Throughout the year we ask questions of the most plugged-in Portland Trail Blazers fans and fans across the country. Sign up here to participate in the weekly emailed surveys.
New players are constantly surfacing on the trade market for the Portland Trail Blazers to keep a watchful eye out for as the 2022-23 NBA trade deadline approaches. Therefore Blazers faithful, which free agent should be highly prioritized prior to Feb. 9?
Portland is in dire need of lengthy players that squeeze every drop out of their physical gifts by defending at a high level.
Damian Lillard had his highest level of success with two-way forwards Al-Farouq Aminu and Maurice Harkless — both 6-foot-9 — manning the front court. They made a valiant push to the 2019 Western Conference Finals behind stellar offense and noteworthy defense.
Yet Lillard has not enjoyed certain luxuries that come with a championship level team. Since the 1976 NBA/ABA merger, only five NBA champions — the Cleveland Cavaliers (2016), Miami Heat (2006), Houston Rockets (1995), Boston Celtics (1981) and Washington Bullets (1978) — won the Larry O’Brien Trophy without a single All-Defensive player named in those seasons.
However, each of those teams had at least one key player who received said honors multiple times in their careers prior to their championship season save the ‘81 Celtics. Dame has never had a teammate with such illustrious honors in his career.
OG Anunoby of the Toronto Raptors is a viable option that could change that trend. He leads the league with 2.1 steals per game. He’s a stout on ball defender, providing more volume and efficient scoring as well as length than starting small forward Josh Hart.
When he contests, Anunoby holds shooters to 43.8 percent shooting from the field. Hart allows a 50.3 percent connect rate from the floor when getting a hand up.
John Collins of the Atlanta Hawks is only two full seasons removed from a 21.6 point, 10.1 rebound double-double of a season where he shot 58 percent from the field, 40 percent from distance, and 80 percent from the charity stripe.
In a down year, Collins still produces roughly 13 points and eight boards, serving as a dynamic lob, midrange, and three-point shooting threat in the pick-and-roll alongside fundamental defensive abilities. He blocks 1.3 shots per game, tied for No. 12 in the NBA, and has the foot speed to switch 1-5 when necessitated.
Cleveland Cavaliers backup small forward Caris LeVert has had his name circulating in recent days. Throughout his formative NBA years, many pundits touted LeVert as a future break-out star. Finding himself in and out of the starting lineup with the Cavs, LeVert has point forward capabilities with the ability to help the Blazers’ second unit make plays and defend well.
Lastly, Naz Reid of the Minnesota Timberwolves is one of the most underrated players in the NBA today. Reid spaces the floor well and is one of only four players in the NBA averaging double figures in scoring while playing under 20 minutes per night. A downsize from Jusuf Nurkic, Reid offers a soft touch around the rim, competent slashing abilities for a center, and adequate hands to go with under-the-radar defensive efforts.
Therefore, let us know which of these players, if any, should garner a serious look from Blazers management.