A lot of teams are having productive offseasons when it comes to rebuilding their rosters, but the Portland Trail Blazers have been as aggressive as anyone in revamping its squad.
Since Damian Lillard was crowned NBA Rookie of the Year, the Trail Blazers haven’t stopped thinking about what they could put around him. The team lost out to Denver in bringing back J.J. Hickson, but they’ve more than made up for it in the acquisitions of Robin Lopez, Thomas Robinson and Terrell Harris via trade.
Add to that the addition of free agent three point specialist Dorell Wright and a pair of draft pick guards in CJ McCollum and Allen Crabbe and the Trail Blazers are suddenly looking a far more competitive team than the group that fell well short of the postseason in 2013. McCollum is looking like a solid backup to Lillard while Crabbe is more likely to come in off the bench behind Wesley Matthews.
The team made McCollum official on Thursday, signing the rookie to a deal with terms undisclosed. The Blazers have drafted intelligently over the last few years and now have good depth in every position, but whether or not Terry Stotts can put it all together into a cohesive unit is a big question mark and one that will see his job security dwindle quickly if the team can’t at least fight for a postseason position next year.
In his first season in charge of the Blazers, the team struggled to get stops on the defensive end of the floor and was 24th in rebounding despite boasting a front court with All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge and J.J. Hickson who was one of the top rebounders of the season.
The team’s addition of Robin Lopez is something Portland will be hoping can shore up their shot blocking ability and effectiveness in the paint, an area that they were third worst in the league last season and will have to improve on if they are going to be able crack the postseason in a tough division and conference.
Given the pieces Portland has in place, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them make another move or two before the season starts. There are 16 players currently on their roster, and although third string center and fresh draft pick Marco Todorovic may stay in Europe a little longer, the team will likely trim its roster either through cuts or a trade. With the acquisition of Thomas Robinson and Lopez, the team is set for bodies to bang around on the inside and improve that rebounding and points in the paint averages.
Perimeter shooting from Lillard, Wesley Matthews and now Dorell Wright will win games by itself, but add the aforementioned interior presence, the midrange game of LaMarcus Aldridge and the fact that the Blazers are one of the toughest teams to play against on the road, and the Blazers look like they might be a squad that could make some noise in the coming seasons. It simply comes down to Terry Stotts now and how well he can get this team to play together.