In their continued efforts to surround franchise superstar Damian Lillard with more talent, the Portland Trail Blazers have added Larry Nance Jr., who could provide them with more youth and athleticism on the wing. After re-signing Norman Powell to a long-term deal and adding Cody Zeller, Ben McLemore, Tony Snell, Greg Brown III and Trendon Watford, the Blazers have had quite a busy offseason.
Now looking to capitalize and make progress next season with thenewly added talent, this still leaves us to wonder whether or not it was enough to satisfy Lillard, especially with the uncertainty of his future with the team. Given that he did recently state he wants to remain in Portland and finish out his career there, there still may be hope for the Trail Blazers.
However, they’ll still have some work to do if they want to make the roster upgrades needed for them to come out of the ultra-competitive Western Conference. With all this said, let’s take a look at the Blazers’ offseason grades after acquiring Larry Nance Jr. in a multi-team trade.
Blazers Free Agency Grade: C
Granted the Trail Blazers have been active this offseason and done all they can to please Lillard, but in spite of their greatest efforts they just haven’t put together a strong enough supporting cast that can help Lillard lead Portland to a long-desired NBA championship. The additions of Larry Nance Jr., Tony Snell, Cody Zeller, Ben McLemore and Trent Watford , as well as the re-signing of Norman Powell are all solid moves, but these are not the type of signings that will elevate them to championship status.
In a crowded Western Conference filled with powerhouse teams expected to be back at full health next season, the Blazers still won’t have the depth of firepower to overcome the likes of Phoenix Suns, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors and Utah Jazz. On the flip side, these moves also point to their desire to start a youth movement in Portland and potentially begin their rebuild in the instance that Lillard winds up getting traded.
Considering their current state though, this may not be enough to keep them afloat in an always packed Western Conference.
Blazers Draft Grade: B
Selecting Greg Brown III in this year’s draft could prove to beneficial down the road for them, especially since he was a top-10 recruit and has shown a ton of upside to his game early on. However, it is not expected that he’ll make an immediate impact on the Trail Blazers next season. He could develop into their franchise superstar sometime in the near future though, probably once Damian Lillard is no longer in the picture for them.
Regardless, this was a solid pick-up for them, but only time will tell if they’ll truly get any value out of him. He’s only a rookie and they’ll get plenty of time to help him expand his game and develop in an All-Star caliber player in the league. For the time being, this may not have been the pick that’ll help them move the needle and gain traction towards their quest to build a contender around Lillard.
Blazers Overall Grade: C+
Even though they’ve been very active this offseason and made a ton of transactions in an attempt to build a stronger supporting cast for Lillard, it just doesn’t seem like it’ll be enough to finally get them over the hump in 2021-22. With stiff competition and constant movement across the league, it’s only going to get harder for the Trail Blazers to keep pace with these other teams.
Of ourse, there’s still a small chance that Lillard plays light out next season to a point where the Trail Blazers overcome the odds and take down every Western Conference powerhouse and beat whoever comes out of the East to take home their first title since 1977. Nonetheless, as mentioned, there’s a very low percentage of that happening. Moreover, with with an inconsistent supporting cast, it’ll only put more pressure on Lillard to come through in big moments and carry the load–which has been the narrative for quite some now in Portland.