2019 Portland Trail Blazers Depth Chart
|Point Guard||Damian Lillard||0|
|Shooting Guard||C.J. McCollum||3||Afernee Simons||24||Gary Trent Jr.||9|
|Small Forward||Kent Bazemore||24||Rodney Hood||5||Mario Hezonja||8|
|Power Forward||Zach Collins||33||Anthony Tolliver||43|
|Center||Hassan Whiteside||21||Skal Labissiere||17||Jusuf Nurkic*||27|
After a very successful regular season in which Portland finished third place in the Western Conference with a 49-33 record, things took a turn for the worse come playoff time. Damian Lillard vanished on the court and was a shell of himself and the Trail Blazers were swept by the New Orleans Pelicans in the first round. Their level of play in that series was a stark contrast from the defensive-minded team they were in the regular season and they will look to put that behind them as they head into the 2018-19 season. Portland is one of the few teams in the NBA that is returning its entire starting lineup from last season but their bench will look much different than last year. Portland moved on from Ed Davis and Pat Connaughton in free agency but signed Seth Curry, Nik Stauskas, and they brought back Wade Baldwin. Portland will need to improve on their 109.1 offensive rating from last season to compete in the Western Conference this season now that LeBron James is playing for the Lakers, but with several scoring options coming off the bench for this team, it is hard to not see that happening.
Portland’s offense will once again be lead by All-Star Damian Lillard who is now in his seventh season for the organization. He is coming off the best season of his career where he averaged 26.9 points, 6.6 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game. He was incredibly efficient from inside-the-arc where he connected on 51.9 percent of his shots and was also good from three where he shot 36.1 percent. It may not matter too much who is listed as the point guard behind Damian Lillard since the Portland Trail Blazers spend very little with Lillard and McCollum both off the floor but they do have Seth Curry and Wade Baldwin as options at the position. Anfernee Simmons may struggle to find minutes this season but is a developmental project that will benefit from playing behind a veteran group of guards. They also have Evan Turner, who is listed as a small forward, who has spent time operating as the primary ball handler with Lillard and McCollum off the floor. Playing Turner at point guard and surrounding him with shooters like Curry and Stauskas gives the Blazers a pretty good second unit in the backcourt. McCollum will once again split some of the ball-handling duties with Lillard and he is coming off a year in which he averaged 21.4 points and 3.4 assists but fell flat in the playoffs. Nik Stauskas and Gary Trent Jr. will fill what minutes are left at the position behind McCollum and the duo of guards gives the Blazers a combination of shooting and lineup flexibility to get creative with rotations. Trent showed off an impressive all-around game at the Summer League and may quickly overtake Stauskas as the backup behind McCollum.
Maurice Harkless leads an unimpressive group of small forwards for the Blazers and will look to bounce back from a season where he averaged just 6.5 points and 2.7 rebounds in 21.4 minutes per game. Evan Turner will play behind Harkless off the bench but will operate more as a point guard for the Blazers when their second unit goes small. Jake Layman is a name to keep an eye on in the preseason after an impressive Summer League where he averaged 13.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals on an excellent 57 percent shooting. If Harkless struggles at any point early on, Layman is someone the Blazers can use in the starting lineup over him. As mentioned with the guards, the Blazers bench will play position-less basketball so Nik Stauskas could spend time as the de-facto “small forward” here, as well. Al-Farouq Aminu gives the Blazers an excellent defender in the paint and someone that can stretch the floor but things get dicey behind him. With Ed Davis gone, the Blazers will employ more of a PF/C rotation that involves Zach Collins, Caleb Swanigan, and Meyers Leonard. Collins should get the first shot as the backup power forward with Leonard getting minutes at center behind Nurkic but if that lineup doesn’t work, look for Caleb Swanigan to get the minutes behind Aminu with Collins moving behind Nurkic. Jusuf Nurkic will need to get off to a better start than he did last year if he wants to keep his starting job because the young duo of Swanigan and Collins will be waiting in the wings to overtake him if he struggles.