Several Portland Trail Blazers roster members were featured in the most recent Top-100 player rankings for the season from The Ringer. The national sports conglomerate periodically updates their list, adjusting for season performances. A couple of Blazers have slipped from their early-season rankings, but franchise superstar Damian Lillard has cracked the upper echelons of the league.
Anfernee Simons comes in as the first Blazer ranked, landing at 61. He’s fallen a couple spots from his previous ranking of 57. The Ringer’s Michael Pina heralded Simons’ shot making and scoring ability.
Anyone who can effortlessly drill a high percentage of 3s and win a slam dunk contest deserves attention. Throw in a nifty in-between game, a nasty layup package, and the ability to go unconscious and blow a game wide open, and actual stardom may be on the horizon.
Simons, who skipped college for a postgrad year at IMG Academy, was initially thought of as a high-variance draft pick, a player who could either elevate a franchise or bust quickly. Now in his fifth season, he’s still only 23—a.k.a., two years younger than Pacers sophomore Chris Duarte—with a ton of potential, given his tantalizing hops and touch.
Simons comes in just below Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner and just above Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart.
Jerami Grant fell a few spots to 53rd, and was put in the “Most Notable Risers and Fallers” section at the bottom of the article. Grant previously ranked 43rd, and the Blazers struggles have contributed to his slide according to Michael Pina.
The victim of life on a struggling team, caught in an extended shooting slump. Grant is still a quality wing who gives Portland a necessary degree of competence on both sides of the ball. But the limitations in his game are glaring on nights when his shot isn’t falling and he isn’t going out of his way to make life easier for anyone else. The two-, one-, and zero-assist nights are starting to add up for the Blazers...
...the Blazers’ struggles are not all Grant’s fault, but his association with a defense that’s sliding to historic levels of ineptitude can’t be ignored, either.
Damian Lillard is the final Blazers player ranked on the list, coming in at number 12. He is also featured in the Most Notable Risers and Fallers section, but in the positive category following a rise from 19th in the last installment.
Dame has been on a heater for nearly a month. Since the middle of January, he’s been averaging 36.9 points (not a typo), 7.6 assists, and 5.0 rebounds per game. Lillard’s shot splits are a cool 50/40/90, and he’s dining at the free throw line with greater frequency than at any other point in his career. It’s a remarkable stretch for one of the most potent offensive weapons basketball has ever seen. Nobody is melting NBA defenses quite like Dame has been lately.
You can see the entire list here.