Vegas Over/Under: 42.5
Fromal’s Record Projection: 43-39
The Bet: Prevent but lean over
The Western Conference is brutally hard, along with the Portland Trail Blazers’ previous cap missteps will end up breaking themas they didn’t have too many routes 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 nearer to preventing luxury-tax penalties and future interactions with the dreaded repeater tax.
But 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’s tough to oversell precisely how important that last part is.
The big guy, who was obtained from 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 superior than the minus-1.9 internet rating earned without him.
But is that sustainable? Only time will tell, though competitions will have a scouting report on Nurkic this season. Conditioning concerns could also pop up since he is tasked with enjoying extensive minutes for the first time.
Especially with little persuasive depth on the wings, don’t expect the Blazers to take massive strides forward. Nurkic should help the star-studded backcourt maintain its playoff-caliber level, but the group’s ceiling still feels fairly tight.
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