2017-18 Portland Trail Blazers Predictions and NBA Futures Odds Picks
Some things don't make sense when it comes to how teams are managed. Portland is a good example this year. They went 41-41 last year. That was enough to make the playoffs as the 8th seed, but no one - not even anyone in Portland, or the dressing room for that matter - thought that they had any chance at all against the Warriors in the first round. All they did by finishing 8th was cost themselves a chance at a better draft pick in the lottery. And it's not like they dramatically underachieved, either. After losing significantly more than they had gained entering the season the team was about as good as they were capable of being.
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So, faced with a talent deficit, and in the midst of an escalating arms race in the West, the Trail Blazers basically stood pat. They have a very dynamic backcourt, but it's not enough by itself, and by choosing not to get more significant support up front they have basically conceded the fight for playoff relevancy before it even started. Sure, it is extremely tough right now for any team to challenge teams like Golden State, San Antonio or Houston, but to simply do nothing - or basically nothing, anyway - seems, well, cowardly. Maybe, though, they were gun shy after the string of incredibly stupid moves they had made the previous summer and knew that they just weren't capable of competent improvement.
2017 Portland Trail Blazers Betting Storylines
If I was C.J. McCollum or Damian Lillard I would not be a happy guy right now. They are one of the better backcourts in the league together, yet they are crippled by a generally underwhelming supporting cast. It hasn't always been this way, either - they were a strong team with Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews, Robin Lopez, and LaMarcus Aldridge on board, but they all left and weren't adequately replaced. The two remaining guards got desperate this year, basically begging Carmelo Anthony to join them, but that obviously didn't work out. Both guys are talented - especially Lillard. You have to wonder, though, if their motivation levels can remain high throughout this season knowing that their relevance has basically come to an end before a single game has been played. If they are totally and completely bought in this year then a rough season could become a very rough one.
The team acquired Jusuf Nurkic from the Nuggets last February. He certainly burned hot. He played 20 games, starting 19, and posted stats that were basically twice as good as he had ever managed in his three years in Denver. It was a revelation. But then he broke his leg and was lost for the rest of the season and all but one playoff game. He's healthy again this year, and he's in somewhat better shape than he was when he arrived in the Rose city, too. If he can be the player he was in the quarter season he played for the team last year then he could be a third cog for this team that could really have a big impact. If he looks more like he did in his time in Denver, though, or can't consistently play at a high level, then the team will have more issues than they already have.
2017 Portland Trail Blazers Additions and Departures
The team, as I said at the outset, really didn't do much. They drafted Zach Collins and Caleb Swanigan in the first round. Both are big forwards with upside, but patience will be required in both cases. Swanigan is likely to fit in more at power forward, with Collins getting more minutes at center. Due to injuries early on - Noah Vonleh and Ed Davis are both banged up - Swanigan has the better chance at real minutes early on. And they ditched Allen Crabbe just a year after given him a laughably outsized deal - $75 million over four years for a backup shooting guard. They traded him to Brooklyn for Andrew Nicholson, then they waived Nicholson. And aside from bringing in a few cheap guys to compete for the final roster spot, that's it. Taking last year's perfectly mediocre team, subtracting Crabbe and adding two rookies who will take time - not a recipe for a rapidly improved team.
2017 Portland Trail Blazers Futures Odds and Trends
Portland Trail Blazers Futures Odds
NBA title odds (from BetOnline ) : +20000
Western Conference title odds : +10000
Damian Lillard MVP Odds (from Bovada ) : +5000
Season win total (from Bovada): 42.5 ("over" is favored at -125)
There was no long-term money to be made betting on the Trail Blazers last year no matter how you turned it - they were 40-42 ATS. The total was more profitable, however, with a 44-37-1 mark.
2017 Portland Trail Blazers Predictions and Futures Odds Picks
I'm not at all optimistic. The backcourt will be fine, but I don't trust Nurkic, both forward positions lack certainty, and the depth is generally underwhelming. I don't feel like they underachieved last year, so I struggle to see how they improve significantly this year. I like the "under" on the season win total, and given the strength of so many teams in the West I don't see them as a playoff team this year. This team finally needs to realize that real changes are needed.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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