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What the Portland Trail Blazers Need to Do Ahead of the 2021 NBA Season

| November 13, 2020 10:08 am PDT
Portland Trail Blazers Biggest Needs 2021

The offseason gives every NBA team the opportunity to regroup and improve for the upcoming season. It’s time in which each franchise has to make tough decisions, pick players in the draft, and try to build the strongest roster possible.

One of the organizations that certainly need a good offseason in 2020 is the Portland Trail Blazers. The team has a true superstar in Damian Lillard, but it feels like the guard doesn’t have enough help to compete for the title.

If the team is bold enough to address its problems in the offseason and build around Dame, it might make that step above.

In this post, I share my opinion on the Portland Trail Blazers’ biggest needs and how the franchise can solve them before the next campaign begins.

Trade CJ McCollum

Let me start by expressing my respect to CJ McCollum. I love him as a player and I believe he completely deserves his star status in the NBA. The guard can explode in any given moment and deliver 40 points against any opponent in the league.

He’s a scoring machine and an excellent number two. McCollum is apparently a great teammate too, because everyone in Portland loves him and he has a great bond with Lillard. Just look at this ESPN interview if you want proof of that, the two are like brothers!

I love their friendship, but I don’t think that CJ is the right number two for Dame. They are simply not a good fit, because they have the exact same strengths and weaknesses.

Both are excellent shooters who contribute mostly on the offensive end of the floor and carry any game. At the same time, both are a liability defensively and that leaves the perimeter way too exposed.

McCollum would be excellent next to a guy that can defend and needs spacing, such as Ben Simmons. At the same time, Lillard could thrive if he has a player who can guard the opposition’s top perimeter attackers.

Someone like Jrue Holiday comes to mind instantly and he will be available this offseason. The Trail Blazers need to be bold and try to trade CJ McCollum for a player like the Pelican’s guard.

The other option would be to go for another star in a different position and simply add a solid guy who plays mostly defense next to Dame.

Either way, if the Trail Blazers want to become contenders for the NBA title instead of a borderline playoff team in the West, they need to move CJ McCollum.  

Just look at what happened with the Toronto Raptors when they broke the bond between Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan!

Re-Sign Carmelo Anthony

I’m not the biggest fan of Carmelo Anthony at this stage of his career and he certainly has plenty of limitations, but the veteran brought more than 15 points per game on decent efficiency last season.

His contribution cost the team just above $2 million which is excellent value and he’s a free agent this offseason. Melo obviously likes it in Portland and works well with Dame and CJ.

 Considering how limited the Trail Blazers’ bench was in 2019-20, the team simply needs some offense for the moments in which the backcourt is resting. Anthony certainly can deliver that and I don’t think it will cost too much to bring him back.

If the organization can keep the forward on a cheap contract, it should certainly pull the trigger.

Get a Good Perimeter Defender

That one might be solved if the Portland Trail Blazers decide to move CJ McCollum, but there’s a good chance he will stay, so I will address it separately.

The defense has been the team’s major problem in the past several years. The Trail Blazers simply allow too many points and you can’t do that against elite opponents in the NBA playoffs. All the best teams in the West have the means to punish them.

I would argue that the rim protection is somewhat respectable with guys like Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic on the court. Hassan Whiteside is decent in certain areas too, although he might be gone in 2021.

Even if he’s out, the paint is still guarded on an at least average level or so. The same can’t be said about the perimeter. The backcourt duo is extremely vulnerable and that’s just suicidal in today’s NBA. I know that Dame and CJ can score, but that’s not enough.

The Trail Blazers will keep leaking too many points and that won’t be enough for a title run. They need to get a good perimeter defender.

The franchise doesn’t have the cap space to sign a strong free agent, so it has to trade to find a good option. The other opportunity would be the NBA draft. A quick look at the order in 2020 shows that Portland has the 18th pick.

That’s not early enough to acquire a truly elite talent, but there should be plenty of strong defensive prospects left. The Trail Blazers could go after a 3-and-D guy and hope he can start contributing right now.

The chances are slim, but something has to be done about the perimeter defense or the team will suffer once again.

Wrap-Up

I’m not sure if the Portland Trail Blazers will be bold enough to trade CJ McCollum this offseason and that would ruin another year of Damian Lillard’s prime. The superstar is good enough to carry the franchise to the playoffs, but that’s where the story ends.

Do you agree with my opinion on the Trail Blazers? Feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments below.

I also recommend you to check my post on the Philadelphia 76ers, another team that needs to be bold in the offseason.

Jerry Summer
Jerry Summer

Jerry Summer has a wide-ranging interest in gambling and the gambling industry. He's made a living out of both playing poker and betting on sports.

The English Premier League and the NBA are among Jerry's primary areas of expertise. He's knowledgeable about many other sports, too, along with poker and several casino games.

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