Portland Trail Blazers Preview – NBA Team Preview 2022-23

This article is part of our NBA Team Previews series.

2022-23 Portland Trailblazer team preview

Portland had a relatively eventful offseason but didn’t lose too many significant players, which bodes well for this season. The Blazers have signed Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons, Jusuf Nurkic and Drew Eubanks. Notable additions include Shaedon Sharpe, number 7, Jerami Grant and Gary Payton.

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Record 2021-22: 27-55; 13th in the Western Conference

2022-23 NBA Win Total Odds: 39.5 wins (draft kings)

2022-23 NBA title odds: +8000 (draft kings)

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Check out our 2022-23 fantasy basketball projections, which can be customized to suit your league settings.

Portland Trail Blazers Fantasy Basketball Preview

Fantasy managers who designed Lillard last year were burned. The all-star point guard played in just 29 games in a losing year for the Trail Blazers, who struggled with chronic abdominal pain that clearly affected his play. He shot just 40.2 percent from the field and 32.4 percent from three — both career lows. He underwent surgery in mid-January and never returned to court. With it clear that Lillard would not be returning, Portland made some key roster changes to fuel the rest of the season. The biggest move was the deal from Lillard’s longtime backcourt pal CJ ​​McCollum to the Pelicans. Josh Hart represented the best returning player in the deal and Hart could start 2022-23 at small forward. Portland also acted for Jerami Grant while re-signing both Anfernee Simons and Jusuf Nurkic. With McCollum out of the picture, optimistic fantasy execs might envision Lillard achieving the highest usage rate of his career. His last two years have been excellent, averaging 29.4 points on 46/40/91 shooting, 7.8 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.0 steals in 36.6 minutes. This led to him being fifth in fantasy production per game in 2019-20 and seventh in 2020-21. Considering the 32-year-old has returned first-round value four years in a row before last, drafting him late in the first round makes sense. Some managers may be put off by his injury and age, but his floor is extremely high given his ability and his role on the Blazers offense.

A combination of nagging injuries and Detroit’s rebuilding mission resulted in an abbreviated season for Grant. When active, he delivered 19.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.9 combined steals-plus-blocks in 47 contests. Grant, dropped from Detroit to Portland in a pre-draft trade, plays as a central starter in the power forward position and represents a tremendous two-way influence for the Trail Blazers. Grant has emerged as a key contributor to playoff-caliber rosters. In 2018-19 with Oklahoma City and 2019-20 with Denver, Grant shot 48.9 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from beyond the arc. His time in Detroit has demonstrated his volume scoring ability and he will now join Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons and Jusuf Nurkic in a talented starting lineup. The upcoming season could be Grant’s best – a pinnacle of mass scoring and efficiency. His playing time should be healthy and Grant can fill the box score.

After injury-plagued 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons, Nurkic stayed relatively healthy last year despite being shut down with the Trail Blazers tanking at the end of the year, ending up appearing in just 56 games. He had a solid bounceback season and ranked 73rd in fantasy production per game. Nurkic’s first 32 games (October through December) were relatively modest, with the center averaging 13.3 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.1 steals in 25.6 minutes. However, with Damian Lillard having to pull out due to a stomach injury after the calendar switched to 2022, Nurkic took on a bigger role. In his last 24 games, Nurkic averaged 17.4 points, 12.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 2.0 combined steals-plus blocks in 31.7 minutes. Fantasy managers should be encouraged by his strong ending to the season, although that was largely due to him filling a usage gap left by Lillard. With the star point guard back in the fold, plus Anfernee Simons and Jerami Grant to make contact as well, Nurkic’s production could fall closer to where it started at the start of last season. He’s a good option for fantasy managers looking to bolster the central position with a legitimate starter in the later draft rounds, but his cap is relatively low unless the Blazers’ key players are hit with more injuries.

After working in a bench role for the Trail Blazers for three years, Simons finally switched to a starting job in mid-2021-22 and capitalized on the opportunity, averaging 23.4 points, 5.8 assists and 2.7 rebounds over 35.5 minutes per game in a 27-game streak before a knee injury ended his season early. Simons’ efforts earned him a four-year contract extension worth $100 million this offseason and positions him for a consistently big role in 2022-23. Simons was set to join forces with Damian Lillard to form the team’s primary backcourt, although Shaedon Sharpe, the seventh overall pick of the 2022 NBA Draft, is also joining. Simons also thrived from a fantasy perspective last season, shooting 44.3 percent from the field, 40.5 percent from deep, and 88.8 percent from the charity streak while throwing 3.1 three-point shots per match ( 4.4 in the last 27). While he may not match his performance with Lillard back and starting on the ball, Simons should still see plenty of action if CJ McCollum falls out of the picture. Its contributions in multiple categories should be enough to make it an intriguing option in many design formats.

Hart stepped into the biggest role of his career last season, thanks in part to the Pelicans’ signing and trade of Lonzo Ball and a failure to secure great backcourt substitutes. Zion Williamson’s absence throughout the season also resulted in more than 30 minutes on the wing, and Brandon Ingram featured in just 55 games. In Hart’s 41 appearances (40 starts) with New Orleans, he averaged 13.4 points on 51/32/75 shooting, 7.8 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.1 steals in 33.5 minutes. Despite the 27-year-old’s impressive development, he was traded in time to bring CJ McCollum out of Portland. The Trail Blazers tanked so Hart could see many minutes and usage. In his 13 appearances (all starts) with his new team, he averaged 19.9 points on 50/37/77 shooting, 5.4 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.2 steals in 32.1 minutes — by far the most biggest role of his career. The overall result of Hart’s production was him 67th in fantasy value per game – a big jump from his previous high of 131st. This year he will have another chance to play a significant role for the Blazers, given its multi-position variety and lack of roster depth. However, he won’t release numbers like he did at the end of last season. Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons, Jerami Grant and Jusuf Nurkic will all sit above him on the offensive totem pole. There’s still a decent chance Hart will see 30+ minutes and fill the stats list, but it’ll likely look more like his New Orleans production. In any case, given what he has shown in 2021-22, fantasy managers should feel comfortable picking Hart in the top 100.

Portland Trail Blazers depth chart for 2022-23

Click ahead for a detailed depth map of the Portland Trail Blazers

CITY TEAM predictions for 2022-23

Portland is a relatively thin team, but the starting XI is great and has the potential to be one of the better groups in the league. Teams led by a healthy Lillard are practically a guarantee of 40+ wins, and this iteration has the potential for much more, as many teams that are above them in expected overall wins have question marks.

record prediction

  • 43-39
  • 8 seeds
  • Loses in Round X

Bold call

Damian Lillard ends up in the top 5 in the MVP voting.

NBA award contender

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