This November, the Blazers, along with every NBA team, will play two home and road games to determine which teams advance to the knockout round.
While the Blazers have a daunting task ahead of them, facing some of the top teams in the West in their group, Portland may actually have a shot to upset and win the group, especially if Damian Lillard is still around.
Dame requested a trade in early July, but the Blazers are not required to honor his wishes and could keep him until the best offer comes around. If Lillard is still on the roster early in the season, there’s a chance he could play for the Blazers in these group stage matches.
History supports the Blazers when it comes to this specific NBA Cup group.
Last season, the Blazers had the best winning percentage (.571) against their opponents. Obviously the Blazers should look very different this year compared to last, but if Lillard stays on the roster, he helps Portland’s chances tremendously.
The Blazers could still win without him, especially if Portland adopts a chip on its shoulder for being counted out by Lillard and the rest of the league. But Dame on the team helps the Blazers win.