Earlier this week for a community discussion question, we approached the topic of death. Today, we tread a much lighter and more tangible debate: Which Portland Trail Blazers player do you think will have a breakout 2023-24 season?
Seasons from the past have brought breakout, career-making campaigns from the likes of Anfernee Simons, Gary Trent Jr., Jusuf Nurkic and others in Rip City. Discounting rookies on the roster, who is due for a big leap this upcoming season that cements their status as a staple in NBA rotations for years to come?
The nominees are...
It almost feels like adding a ringer to include Sharpe in this list after the sky-high potential he showcased near the end of last season when the Blazers entered tank mode. However, the jury is still out on Sharpe in terms of consistency and whether he can put all of his tools together to reach that lofty potential. Will his sophomore season at just age 20 be the one where he officially puts the league on notice as an up-and-coming star, or at the very least, a solid NBA starter?
Thybulle’s arrival in Portland at last season’s trade deadline was a breath of fresh air for both sides. After falling out of the rotation with the Philadelphia 76ers, Thybulle, 26, came to Portland where he instantly was given minutes and a much longer leash to find the flow of his game. For the Blazers, Thybulle’s arrival acquired the services of a disruptive, two-time Second-Team All Defense honoree to give the team a much-needed defensive boost. To make the matrimony even sweeter, Thybulle shot 3-pointers at a 38.8% clip on 3.9 attempts per game in 22 appearances for Portland. A dependable 3-point stroke to go along with his stout defense was largely missing from his game in Philly, leading to his lack of minutes and departure. In his first full season with the Blazers, can Thybulle show that small sample size was for real and become an ultra-valuable 3-and-D player?
Throughout Little’s NBA career, the small forward has struggled to find a rhythm as a young player at the backend of the rotation constantly battling injuries. In the 2021-22 season, his third in the NBA, Little showed some flashes alongside Simons’ breakout as a hustling, athletic spark plug with an improving 3-point shot before going down in late January with a shoulder injury. Those flashes of promise made Little a strong candidate for a breakout campaign heading into last season. However, in a season once again hampered partly by injuries, Little put up modest production and was largely overshadowed in the rotation by players like Josh Hart. Change and opportunity is coming to Portland’s rotation this upcoming season, as the team forecasts to field one of the youngest rosters in the league. Amid that change, can this be the year Little stays healthy and puts it all together for a breakout?
Rumor has it one of the reasons Portland waived fan-favorite Trendon Watford was to clear some space in the forward rotation for Walker. From the moment Walker stepped on the floor for Summer League last season as the last pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, the 6-foot-9 forward from Colorado has been turning heads as a potential second-round steal. In that first Summer League stint and during sparse regular season minutes as a rookie, Walker impacted the game with activity on the glass, a knack for making the right play and a solid 3-point shot. During his second run at Summer League this past July, Walker looked more comfortable in his role as the elder statesmen, averaging 12 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists over five games, while shooting 50% from deep. Is that solid run a precursor for a breakout year two for the 21-year-old?
Do you think another Blazer is destined for a big year? Maybe you’re a big Moses Brown fan, or a die-hard Kevin Knox II believer? There’s always Duop Reath, too!
Let us know in the comments below who your pick is for breakout Blazer of the 2023-24 season!