By Luke Morissette
Here is a comprehensive profile of each player that contributed to the success of the Portland Trail Blazers this year:
Anfernee Simons #24: Despite a lack of court time this year the Blazers 2018 first round pick has already earned the respect of many Portland Fans. The 19-year-old had a quiet rookie year until the final game of the season where he showcased his five-star potential. Scoring 37 points on 13-21 shooting, Simmons lead the Blazers to a win while also earning them the third seed in the West. Although Simmons won’t see much time this playoff the Blazer community is very excited for his future.
Gary Trent Jr. #9: He went to Duke and he’s a good shooter, that’s just about all we learned about the Blazers’ 20 year old 2018 second round pick this season.
Skal Labissiere #17: Labissiere was one of our many mid-season acquisitions. The once first-round pick struggled for playtime in his post-all-star break stint as a Blazer. Labissiere’s future with the blazers is unclear now, but the 6’11 stretch four should be able to find himself in the Blazers regular rotation for the 2019-20 season.
Meyers Leonard #11: Not only does he take up space on the court, but also the Blazers salary cap space. After being drafted by the Blazers in 2012, Meyers Leonard has been nothing, but an unaggressive, jacked, 7ft tall garbage Basketball player. He has taken up $41 million dollars of the Blazers salary cap for the past three years, and thankfully he’s only got one more. One redeeming moment for Meyers was his 30 point explosion in game four of the Western Conference Finals, but this performance does not make up for his years of bricked shots, poor defense, and terrible rebounding.
Jake Layman #10: Jake Layman is a very solid player. Layman took a step in the right direction this year playing solid defense and shooting 50.9% from the field. The 2016 47th overall pick was a solid surprise for Blazers fans this season and should find himself playing important minutes next year.
Evan Turner #1: A lot of people refer to Turner in a similar light as they do Meyers Leanord. I don’t agree with this comparison. Despite his gigantic four year $70 million contract, Turner has been an underused player for the Blazers over the past three years. Hands down the best overall defender on the team and a decent floor general, Evan Turner needs to become a bigger part of the Blazers rotation if the team wishes to improve next season.
Rodney Hood #5: Rodney Hood is a great Basketball player all around. The 6’7 shooting guard is the ideal size and structure for the future guard and also an impressive shooter. Mid-season just before the trade deadline, the Blazers acquired Rodney hood in a trade. Rodney Hood then scored 11.2 points per game for the regular season and 9.9 in the post-season. Hood will become a free agent this year and will be very hard for the Blazers to retain. Hood will look to be a star in the next chapter of his career.
Seth Curry #31: Seth Curry can shoot the Basketball. Curry shot 45.02% from three this year totaling the third best three-point percentage in the NBA for the 2019 season. He is best known for being the brother of Steph Curry, and I hate it. Seth is a good defender, a decent ball handler, and clearly one of the best shooters in the league. He is another guy the Blazers likely won’t retain. He will be missed.
Enes Kanter #00: Kanter was another mid-season pickup. What people thought was a decent mid-season pickup turned out to be one of the best moves of the season. After Jusef Nurkic the Blazers star center got injured Kanter was forced to be the Blazers starter. Despite his dramatic tendencies, Kanter played hard throughout his whole time as a starting center and did not go down without a fight. Kanter is sadly another guy who the Blazers will struggle to retain in this offseason.
Jusef Nurkic #23: The Bosnian Beast will be back. Nurkic was in the middle of a breakout season when tragedy struck the Blazer organization and Nurkic broke his leg. Nurkic is looking return next year mid-season and I know he will have an even bigger chip on his shoulder and will look to continue to be one of the best centers in the league.
Zach Collins #33: The Blazers big men have a bright future if Nurkic can recover from his leg injury. Zach Collins is one of the most exciting up and coming centers in the NBA right now. The 7ft sophomore Blazer reminded the Blazer organization why they drafted him, with their tenth pick in the 2017 draft, this year. Collins not only brought energy with his defensive presence of the bench for the Blazers but also proved himself as a stretch five shooting 33% from the three-point line this year. I honestly believe Collins will be one of the best big men in the NBA sometime within the next five years.
Al-Farouq Aminu #8: Despite a less than impressive playoff performance this season, Aminu was a great player throughout the Regular season. The biggest improvement overall was Aminu’s free throw shooting. A career 74.7% shooter shot an impressive 86.7% from the line. Aminu also played great defense and shot a decent 34.3% from three throughout the regular season. The Chief should be looking to redeem his subpar performance in the 2019 playoffs throughout next season.
Moe Harkless #4: The once 2012 first round pick for the 76ers has found himself a home in Portland. Harkless has continually improved throughout his entire time at Portland. A lot of people thought that starting Harkless was a mistake during the end of the regular season, but Stotts stuck with his guy and Harkless finished his regular season with a bang knocking down a buzzer three, which ended the Los Angles Lakers disappointing season. The 26-year-old will continue to improve and will be a great forward for the Blazers next year.
CJ McCollum #3: 3J might be the most cold-blooded man in Basketball. These playoffs Cj was an absolute assassin. During game seven of the Western Conference Semi-Finals CJ nailed a huge jumper to put the Blazers in the lead. That shot eventually lead to the Blazers reaching the conference finals for the first time since 2000. CJ is a top ten shooting guard in the NBA and hopefully can earn his first All-Star spot in the 2019-20 season.
Damien Lillard 0#: Damien Lillard is the face of Portland. The 6’3 guard out of Weber State was absolutely dominant this year. Damien earned a spot in the All-Star game this year and also earned second-team all NBA. Damien ended the OKC series on one of the most memorable shots in NBA history and fought hard until the end despite his separated rib. Not only does he have plenty of Basketball accomplishments this year, but also I am sure will go down as one of the coolest OES graduation speakers of all time.