The Portland Trail Blazers find themselves in an unenviable position given this summer’s trade saga featuring Damian Lillard.
Though, if there’s any consolation to not dealing picks at the 2023 NBA Draft, it’s that it has allowed them to build one of the league’s best young rosters. In ranking best “young cores” across the Association, Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale spoke fondly of what Portland has done as of late.
The barometers were simple: rosters were evaluated by how much under-age-23 talent they had. After considering the NBA’s best of the best when it came to young cores, Favale listed the Blazers at No. 10, arguing that they would edge out the Cleveland Cavaliers for one of the elite spots under this rationale:
“This “final” spot essentially comes down to whether you prefer Evan Mobley and Isaac Okoro or Henderson and Sharpe. The collective upside of the latter two edged out the one-man stock in Cleveland. Rupert looms as a swing prospect if he pairs his rim and defensive pressure with a reliable set jumper.”
The Blazers’ roster as currently constructed — especially if they trade Lillard — screams patience and growing pains. But, seeing how many players are listed here as a part of Portland’s core is inspiring. As he notes it, there are seven different players that make up that immediate young core: Scoot Henderson (19 years old), Shaedon Sharpe (20), Jabari Walker (20), Rayan Rupert (19), Kris Murray (22), Nassir Little (23) and Keon Johnson (21).
Factor in Anfernee Simons — who just missed the cut-off in Favale’s introduction — and whoever shines in the Summer League, and that list gets potentially bigger. The rest of Favale’s post-free agency list can be found above.