As the trade deadline draws ever closer, the Portland Trail Blazers assets are being put under a microscope to see how valuable they are. The Ringer’s Bill Simmons evaluated the most valuable players around the league before the deadline in his Trade Value Rankings.
The list is broken up into many different groups based on how valuable the player is. The first Blazer to appear is Jerami Grant who was ranked in Group L, “Quality Starters.” Grant was ranked 62nd based on his stellar play this season.
Our secretly strangest NBA career? Original piece of The Process, then traded to OKC for the future Tyrese Maxey pick. Became a 2017 Russ Ball Hog MVP sidekick. Played with PG-13 and Russ, then Jokic/Murray in Denver. Left Jokic (wait, why?) to become a Detroit Empty Stats Guy. Now a useful Dame/Simons sidekick and stealth 2023 free-agent prize. He’s only 28!
The second Blazer up wasn’t too far from Grant as Anfernee Simons came in at 59th. That lands Simons in the “Quality Starter” group as well. Simons was heralded for his efficient scoring this season, and the upside regarding his youth was mentioned as well.
Honestly, I wasn’t prepared for the “22 PPG / 45-38-90% / crunch-time chops” age-23 season that was brewing before Dame returned from injury in December. Could Simons become the greatest Anfernee in NBA history? Probably 100-1 odds two years ago, right? The reigning Anfernee (Penny Hardaway) made a Finals, two first-team All-NBAs, four All-Stars, had his own Nike commercial, and got robbed of an Oscar as Butch McRae in Blue Chips. So there’s a lot of work left. At least it’s a conversation.
Shaedon Sharpe falls into Group K, “The Upside Gang” where he is ranked 49th. Sharpe’s limitless athleticism and great potential land him this high.
You could talk me into Sharpe being 15 spots higher if you put two drinks in me. Good Lord. What a fascinating monkey wrench for the “Win Now With Dame” plan. He’s 19. What do they do? He HAS to play. He’s already shown off some high-end hang-time stuff on the “Young Kobe/UNC Vince” level, only he’s more filled out than those guys already. Worst-case scenario he’s Jason Richardson 2.0. I need some air.
To the surprise of no one, the highest ranked player from the Blazers is Damian Lillard. He is ranked 19th which puts him solidly in Group E, “Lemme Save You Some Time: F*-*-* N-O.” His loyalty is mentioned as part of the reason for this grouping, but also his career year.
Does that massive extension have a chance to cripple Portland in three to four years? Of course. I’m not sold on small, offense-first guards hitting their mid-30s and continuing to thrive as impact stars. But in this case, I’m rooting for it because Dame stands for everything we should want from an NBA star: committing to one city in a real way, carrying yourself as a franchise guy with no excuses, understanding there’s no greater connection than the one between a passionate city and a superstar who was there from beginning to end. If Dame were a political candidate, I’d put his bumper sticker on my car. I hope he makes the Finals in Portland someday. It would mean the most. (FYI: It ain’t happening anytime soon.)