Vegas Over/Under: 42.5
Fromal’s Record Projection: 43-39
The Bet: Prevent but lean over
The Western Conference is brutally hard, and the Portland Trail Blazers’ previous cap missteps will wind up costing themas they did not have a lot of paths with which they can boost their roster.
They even had to give up on Allen Crabbe within a cost-cutting sequence, trading him to move closer to avoiding luxury-tax penalties and potential interactions with the dreaded repeater tax.
However, Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are still in Rip City, plus they will team up with Jusuf Nurkic to maintain this squad in playoff contention. Right now, it is tough to oversell just how significant that last part is.
The big man, who was acquired in the Denver Nuggets at a midseason trade, broke out in a big way once he found himself in a new environment. He had been more focused on the defensive end compared previously and flashed some facilitating flourishes which never showed up at the Mile High City.
While the Bosnian was on the floor, Portland outscored the opposition by 9.2 points per 100 possessions–far better than the minus-1.9 net rating earned .
However, is that sustainable? Only time will tell, though competitions will have a scouting report on Nurkic this season. Conditioning issues may also pop up since he is tasked with enjoying extensive moments for the very first time.
Especially with little persuasive depth on the wings, do not anticipate the Blazers to take massive strides ahead. Nurkic should help the star-studded backcourt maintain its playoff-caliber degree, but the group’s ceiling still feels rather capped.