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#51 - The State of the Portland Trail Blazers

The ending of the 2021-2022 season for the Portland Trail Blazers was filled with uncertainty with a lot of question marks and decisions to make.

Portland finished the 2021-22 season 27-55, their worst record in nearly two decades, and there were many questions surrounding All Star point guard Damian Lillard’s game. Was he declining before our eyes? Was it finally time to request a trade? These are just some of the many questions that the team was faced with going into the off season. 

The Trail Blazers were faced with a tough decision. They had to choose between letting Dame's contract play out, or extend him. Lillard agreed to a two-year extension through the 2026-27 season, the deal is worth $225 million. With this decision, it showed that the Blazers were committed to Lillard and were ready to try and put a better contending roster around him. 

Let’s start in the NBA draft, where the Blazers selected Shaedon Sharpe 7th overall. Coming out of the draft the Blazers knew that Sharpe would not be an immediate impact player but rather a raw prospect who will show flashes for the future of the team, similar to how Anfernee Simons was treated coming straight out of high school. While Sharpe may not show much this year, look out in 2-3 years for him.

Along with drafting Shaedon Sharpe, the Blazers made a huge trade that night. The Portland Trail Blazers acquired forward Jerami Grant and the draft rights to Ismael Kamagate from the Detroit Pistons in exchange for the draft rights to Gabriele Procida, a 2025 first-round draft pick (via Milwaukee), a 2025 second-round draft pick and a 2026 second-round draft pick. This was a huge move for Portland. Jerami Grant is a solid 2 way wing that has playoff experience when he played with the Denver Nuggets. So far this season Grant has been a lockdown wing who’s averaging over 20 PPG. Maybe the perfect wing pair for Damian Lillard to be paired with. 

Next up we have free agency. The Blazers kept 2 familiar names on the squad with Anfernee Simons and Jusuf Nurkic. Simons signed on a 4 year $100M  deal while Nurkic signed on a 4 year $70M Deal. Along with this they signed free agent Gary Payton Jr who has yet to play a game this year but is looking for a return soon. 

So far this season, the plan for the Portland Trail Blazers has looked pretty solid and they have potential to do some things this year. As of December 23rd, the Blazers are sitting at 17-15, that's good enough for 8th in a tight NBA Western Conference. If Damian Lillard can remain healthy and if we see the emergence of Anfernee Simons and Jerami Grant, this team has a shot to make some noise come playoff time.

Written by: Jacob Matthews (@jacob9302)

Edited by: Josh Bhagratie (@jshyb_)

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