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3 way too early bold Portland Trail Blazers predictions for 2022-23 NBA season

NBA, 2022 NBA season, Portland Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons, Jerami Grant

The Portland Trail Blazers entered the 2022 offseason under a ton of pressure to deliver on Damian Lillard’s wishes for a competitive squad. Now that the 2022 NBA draft and much of the offseason are pretty much done, the Blazers didn’t do too badly. To be honest, the Blazers made every effort to regain their competitiveness this offseason.

Will the Blazers get the championship this year? Most definitely not. Did they satisfy Lillard’s request and at the very least put themselves in a stronger position for the upcoming season? Sure.

While Anfernee Simons has shown amazing potential to replace CJ McCollum’s offensive production next to Lillard, adding Jerami Grant and Gary Payton II are the really big deals. Fans will have to wait and watch how the pieces come together, though. Rookie Shaedon Sharpe, meanwhile, is a mystery box who could turn out to be the class’s top performer or a depressing young buck. Either way, he’ll need some time to mature.

With a combination of solid-but-unspectacular talent surrounding Lillard and their younger talent having more promise than performance at this stage of their careers, fans hope that their Blazers are ready to drop the boom.

Blazers 2022-23 Predictions

3) Anfernee Simons will be a 20-point scorer

Fifth-year guard Anfernee Simons just agreed to a four-year, $100 million deal with the Blazers. He earned it after averaging career-highs of 17.3 points (44.3 percent FG, 40.5 percent 3-PT, 88.8 percent FT), 2.6 rebounds, and 3.9 assists last season. Keep in mind that his scoring average increased by 9.5 points from 2020–21. That was the biggest improvement among NBA players who appeared in at least 50 games last year.

As such, the Blazers seem to have stumbled upon a keeper. Maybe that’s why they decided to part ways with C.J. McCollum. Remember that since taking over as the team’s regular starter on January 3, Simons has made 27 appearances, averaging 23.4 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game.

Portland has certainly benefited greatly from Simons’ emergence at the guard position. He is poised to make another leap this year, and don’t be shocked if he breaks the 20-point-per-game scoring barrier for the entire season. As things stand, Damian Lillard may have found his new running mate.

2) Damian Lillard will be an MVP candidate

Speaking of Lillard, he didn’t appear to be a superhero for the first time in his career. Lillard only participated in 29 games because of injuries. Still, the Blazers extended Lillard’s contract by two years. They gave him a total of $122 million over the course of the term. The organization was so afraid of losing Lillard that it planned to pay him over half of the team’s salary cap in a few years.

Having said that, Lillard is in a great position to have a huge comeback. The figures will be there as long as he stays healthy, which he has done every season save for 2021–2022. In the past, he has been in the top 10 of the MVP ladder a handful of times, including a fourth-place showing in 2017–18. Although Lillard needs a couple of lucky breaks, at 50/1, he’s in the MVP lobby, for sure.

The issue is whether the Blazers will have a strong enough squad to enable Lillard to legitimately enter the MVP race.

1) The Blazers will make the Play-in tournament

That’s where we enter the Blazers’ playoff chances in 2022-23. The odds are not in their favor, but that doesn’t mean they’re automatically out of the race. Remember that their 2021–22 season was characterized by Damian Lillard’s injury problems. Fans also saw GM Joe Cronin making up for mistakes made by the previous leadership.

Cronin made sure to build a stronger team over the offseason. Consequently, the Blazers unquestionably improved. With 15 losses by 30 points or more last year, the Blazers set a season record (the previous record was 10).

Much of their chances this season will obviously depend on how amazing Damian Lillard’s return will be. Anfernee Simons’ surge will also be crucial alongside continued strong play from Jusuf Nurkic. Grant and Payton’s additions should also enable head coach Chauncey Billups to increase this team’s defensive impact.

The fact that they’re in the West makes things more challenging. In terms of talent and explosiveness, however, the Blazers should at least be a playoff contender. They will most certainly make it to the play-in tournament.