Portland Trail Blazers
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’ preceding cap missteps will wind up breaking themas they didn’t have a lot of routes with which they could improve their roster.
They had to give up on Allen Crabbe as part of a cost-cutting sequence, trading him to move closer to preventing luxury-tax penalties and potential interactions with the dreaded repeater tax.
However, Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are still in Rip City, and they’ll team up with Jusuf Nurkic to maintain this squad in playoff contention. At this time, it’s hard to oversell precisely how significant that last part is.
The huge guy, who had been obtained in the Denver Nuggets at a midseason trade, broke out in a big way after he found himself in a new environment. He was more focused on the defensive end than previously and flashed some easing flourishes that never showed up at the Mile High City.
Though the Bosnian was around 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 have a scouting report on Nurkic this season. Conditioning issues could also pop up since he is tasked with enjoying extensive minutes for the first time.
Especially with small persuasive depth on the wings, don’t expect the Blazers to take huge strides ahead. Nurkic should help the star-studded backcourt keep its playoff-caliber level, but the group’s ceiling still feels rather tight.
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