With the official NBA schedule released today, early win total predictions for the new season are not far behind. That includes Bleacher Report’s version. And let’s just say that author Andy Bailey predicts the Blazers to float through the river of 2023-24 like a cement mixer.
Bailey predicted a whopping 14 wins for the Blazers. That’s three fewer than the league-worst Detroit Pistons notched last season.
Of Portland, Bailey says:
This prediction is obviously based on the belief that Damian Lillard will be gone before the season starts. He’s not on the Miami Heat yet, but the trade request is out there. And it feels like the Portland Trail Blazers will eventually honor it.
Whether it’s Miami or some other team, the return package is likely to be pick- and prospect-heavy too. And that means Portland, despite the arrival of Scoot Henderson and development of Shaedon Sharpe, will probably look a lot like it did when Lillard was off the floor in 2022-23.
The Blazers were a dismal minus-10.6 points per 100 possessions when Lillard didn’t play. That’s a point differential around that of an 18-win team.
Factor in the potential trade-deadline move of Jerami Grant (who clearly wouldn’t fit the timeline of a Lillard-less team), and it’s easy to see Portland cruising toward top-three odds in the 2024 draft lottery.
The striking low total is especially surprising since Bailey did not explore the outer limits of wins or losses, period, save for the Blazers. His highest prediction of wins is 52 for the Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets. The lowest besides Portland is 23 for the San Antonio Spurs. It’s like the Blazers are Charlie Brown on Halloween...everybody gets something, except they get a rock.
Do you agree (even marginally) with the projection that Portland will vie for the Top 4 lottery positions in the 2024 NBA Draft with their uniquely dismal performance? Not one of the Top 4 positions, mind you, but all of them at once, by default? I mean, a 14-68 record has got to come with some kind of award, right?
Weigh in below.