Vegas Over/Under: 42.5
Fromal’s Record Projection: 43-39
The Bet: Avoid but lean over
The Western Conference is brutally difficult, and the Portland Trail Blazers’ previous cap missteps will wind up breaking themas they didn’t have too many routes with which they can boost their roster.
They even had to give up on Allen Crabbe as part of a cost-cutting sequence, trading him to move nearer to preventing luxury-tax penalties and future 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. Right now, it is tough to oversell precisely how important that last part is.
The huge man, who was obtained from the Denver Nuggets in a midseason trade, broke out in a big way once he found himself in a new environment. He was more focused on the defensive end than before and flashed some easing flourishes which never showed up at the Mile High City.
While the Bosnian was on the ground, Portland outscored the opposition by 9.2 points per 100 possessions—far better than the minus-1.9 net rating earned .
But is that sustainable? Only time will tell, though competitions have a scouting report on Nurkic this season. Conditioning issues may also pop up since he’s tasked with playing extensive minutes for the very first time.
Especially with little convincing depth on the wings, do not anticipate the Blazers to take massive strides ahead. Nurkic should assist the star-studded backcourt keep its playoff-caliber level, but the team’s ceiling still feels fairly tight.
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