Vegas Over/Under: 42.5
Fromal’s Record Projection: 43-39
The Bet: Avoid but lean over
The Western Conference is brutally hard, along with the Portland Trail Blazers’ preceding cap missteps will wind up costing them, as they did not have too many paths with which they can improve their roster.
They had to give up on Allen Crabbe within a cost-cutting order, trading him to move closer to preventing luxury-tax penalties and potential interactions with the dreaded repeater tax.
But Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are still in Rip City, and they will team up with Jusuf Nurkic to keep this squad in playoff contention. At this time, it is tough to oversell just how significant that last part is.
The big man, who had been acquired from 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 which never showed up in the Mile High City.
While the Bosnian was around the floor, Portland outscored the opposition by 9.2 points per 100 possessions–far superior than the minus-1.9 net rating earned .
However, is that sustainable? Only time will tell, though competitions have a scouting report on Nurkic this season. Conditioning issues could also pop up as he’s tasked with playing extensive moments for the first time.
Especially with small convincing depth on the wings, don’t anticipate the Blazers to take massive strides ahead. Nurkic should help the star-studded backcourt keep its playoff-caliber degree, but the team’s ceiling still feels fairly capped.
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