Portland Trail Blazers - What Can The Future Bring ?

Deep breath, sigh and relax. Hello everyone! This is my first ever basketball piece and I must say I am very nervous to post it but I think you guys will enjoy this. 

As of today (03/27/2017) the Trailblazers are the 8th seed in the Western Conference. They have a huge matchup against the Nuggets on Tuesday and if they win they take the season series (3-1) and get basically a 2 game lead on them with 9 games to go. At this point, in my opinion, it's vital that the blazers hold on to a playoff spot because even if they miss it the best pick they'll get is around 10 to 15 so I'd just rather make the playoffs, get some experience (even if we lose 4-0) and think about how we can improve upon this year. I want to give you my feedback on basically all 15 players but heavily focused on Nurkic, Lillard and McCollum.
So our usual starting five is Lillard, CJ, Harkless, Vonleh and Nurkic. These guys, along side with our bench, have been getting the job done specially after the all star break where the blazers are 12-5. You can tell that part of that massive improvement is the Jusuf Nurkic trade, on the 12th of February the blazers traded  Mason Plumlee and their second round pick to the Nuggets for their first round pick and Nurkic. Ever since this happened the blazers got massively better, even Vonleh took a step up thanks to this trade and to think that Nurk has already had a career high night with Portland against the 76ers (28 pts, 19 reb, 8 ast and 6 blk) with only Shaq and Charles Barkley being the other big man to achieve this (since 85-86 season) makes me belive it can only go up from here. Nurkic has also helped CJ and Lillard with his picks, the blazers have been very efficient using Nurk in the pick and roll and teams have been having a hard time to stop that. Currently as a team the Portland Trailblazers are top 10 in points per game (6th with 108.0 pts behind teams like GS, Rockets, Nuggets, the Cavs and the Wizards), the are also just outside the top 10 in rebounds (12th with 43.9 reb per game), they are 8th on blocks per game with 5.0 behind teams like the Bucks, the 76ers and the Spurs. And they're also 8th on field goals made with 39.6. The blazers are top 10 on 2 (almost 3) out of the 6 most important stats in basketball (Points, Rebounds, Assists, Steals, Blocks and Field goal mades). I have high hopes for Noah Vonleh as he's been constantly improving since the Nurkic trade and is one of the guys I expect us to keep. I'm unsure about Harkless and Crabbe, specially since I expected the latter to make a big jump. I think that the blazers biggest focus in this year's draft / free agency should be the forward position unless the front office truly believes in Maurice Harkless. Lest we forget that Aminu is 25,  Harkless 23, Crabbe 24 and Leonard 25. Our starting 5 and bench are very young and we'll always have some 6/7 guys in for rotation and experience. Could be a winning formula in 2 to 3 years.

Some players I'd like to talk about more in depth :

Damian Lillard

Lillard is one of the best point guards in the league and Portland are lucky to have him, Dame constantly plays at an all star level and is part of the reason why the blazers are always in the top 10 of the Western conference. Stats wise he's currently outshining players like Kyrie Irving, I believe Lillard got snubbed out of the all stars game this year but I'm kinda glad he did because ever since the break happened he's been playing super well. Damian is the trailblazers number 1 franchise player and I could bet my house he retires as a blazer. I truly believe that next to a constantly improved CJ (for the past two years he's had a huge improvement) and a top centre in Nurkic, Lillard finally has the chance of building something good with Portland if the pieces fall correctly and hopefully he'll retire with a ring and with a blazers franchise behind him.

CJ McCollum

McCollum was last season's most improved player and this year he just keeps on getting better. CJ always shows up in big games or late game situations making up for any bad runs from Lillard. The fact that he can play both as a SG and PG means that the blazers can do a lot with his versatility. From resting Lillard to using plays that can't be run with Damian as the PG. McCollum is only 25 and is, in my opinion, alongside Nurkic and Lillard a franchise player.

Jusuf Nurkic

The Bosnian Beast was vital to this season's turnaround. Seen as a number 2 centre in Denver behind Jokic forced Nurkic to move away and boy am I glad the blazers jumped on him. Only 22 and already putting up huge numbers it's easy to see that the blazers see Jusuf as a vital player to their future, specially given the impact he's had on the team with only 18 games played. He's got everything you want in a franchise player with a great attitude towards his team-mates and a team first mentality.

Contract wise the blazers are quite good as they have their main starters (and hoppefully future stars) tied up long term with Lillard and McCollum signed until 2020, Crabbe and Leonard until 2019, Aminu until 2018 and both Vonleh and Nurkic until 2017 but both of them are restricted free agents so I'm expecting them to resign. This team is young and talented, they expected to make a jump this year but it didn't happen however this next seeason they'll have their 3 main men and hopefully a more developed Aminu and Vonleh. With 3 first round picks the blazers hold some trade value so in case they can't sign a PF/SF in free agency I'd expect that if a good trade offer for one of the 2 positions of need appears that the blazers jump on it and make the deal given that the player is youngish and talented and hopefully in the next 5 years we'll have another championship in Portland. #RIPCITY 

Thank you for reading and please if you enjoyed this leave me some feedback! Don't forget you can find me on twitter @Peter1678 


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