2019 Blazers Look to Take One Step Forward with Retooled Roster
2019 Portland Trail Blazers Betting Storylines
The Portland Trail Blazers are coming off a heck of a season in many ways. They won 53 games. They made it to the Western Conference Finals by beating Oklahoma City and upsetting Denver. They enjoyed that playoff success despite playing without Jusuf Nurkic, who has evolved into one of the truly important players on this team. And they played a style that is both very watchable and seemingly quite sustainable. But now comes the tough part. They re-jigged and adjusted over the offseason. However, can they find a way to go from the ranks of pretty good teams to one that is a true threat to contend?
Despite their success last year, they ultimately clearly weren't that - they got swept in four games by a Golden State team that clearly had some issues. They haven't stood pat by any means -- they will have three different starters at the beginning of the year than they had against the Warriors. But does it all add up to enough? The offseason in the West was a serious arms race this year. Did Portland keep pace?
2019 Portland Trail Blazers Additions and Departures
The team had some issues to deal with heading into this season, but none was more pressing than the Nurkic situation. The big man is 25 and a bright piece of the future of this team. But his injury of last year is likely to keep him out of action until at least the all-star break and perhaps even longer. The team could not afford to just cobble things together and hope for the best there - not in this NBA. And Meyers Leonard wasn't a suitable replacement for Nurkic. So, the team got involved in what became a four-team trade with Jimmy Butler going from Philly to Miami as the core piece. For their part, they sent Leonard and Moe Harkless out and brought Hassan Whiteside in. Whiteside slots in as a very nice replacement for Nurkic while needed - not a true replacement, but a viable piece. And if it is decided that he isn't perfect, or if the team wants to make a big push because things are going well, he will have real value on the trade market as well. The rumors of Portland-area native Kevin Love looking longingly at the Trail Blazers persist, for example. And while I am not entirely convinced that 2019 Love is what this team really needs, Whiteside could be a valuable chip in that acquisition down the road.
The other trade the team made this summer was sending Evan Turner to Atlanta for Kent Bazemore. Bazemore is a defensively solid wing, and defense was an area of concern for this team last year. His shooting dropped off last year, but getting excited to play in Atlanta is tough to do, so the change of scenery should be a boost. If he meshes well, he can be a useful addition to the starting lineup. The biggest concern, though, is that he isn't particularly big, and in his division the responsibility to guard guys like LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard will fall to him, so that's not ideal. On balance, though, he's a step forward.
The team extended Rodney Hood, who they acquired midseason last year. They brought in Mario Hezonja on a cheap two-year deal, and he could be so happy to be out of New York and finally playing for a good team that there could be some real upside. And they took a really interesting flyer on Pau Gasol. He played only 30 games last year, and only three of them came after being traded to Milwaukee, but his veteran savvy could be hugely valuable - and if he can get healthy, he can still play a bit.
The team had just one draft choice, but it was a strong one. Selecting 25th, the team grabbed forward Nassir Little from North Carolina. It was a solid shock that he was still on the board at that spot, so there is serious value here. He should be able to work his way into a rotation that has been dramatically overhauled.
2019 Portland Trail Blazers Futures Odds and Trends
Portland Trail Blazers Futures Odds
NBA title odds : +3300
Western Conference title odds : +2000
Northwest Division title odds: +550
Damian Lillard MVP Odds : +2500
Season win total: 46.5
Will the Portland Trail Blazers make the playoffs: Yes -230, No +190
Portland went 45-36-1 ATS last year, which had them tied as the third-best betting team in the league last year. They were profitable on the over as well, going over 43 times and under 37.
2019 Portland Trail Blazers Predictions and Futures Odds Picks
I like the team and how they are built - especially when Nurkic returns. And it has been a strong offseason. But I am still not convinced that Terry Stotts is a top-caliber NBA coach - or rather, I am quite convinced that he is not. And the West is so deep right now that I am not convinced that they can measure up against the best. Utah did more to improve this summer and feels like the better team in the division, and the Clippers took big strides as well. Portland is in the mix, and is close to a playoff lock, but I'm not convinced that they are any closer to being in control of making it to the conference finals, and winning once they get there, than they were last year. It could happen, but I'm not betting it is likely.
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