The 2021-22 NBA season will attempt to be as close to a normal NBA season as possible after two years playing through a pandemic. The COVID situation in the United States has not improved as much as expected, but the league expects to get a full 82 games in while pushing for its players, coaches and staff to get vaccinated.
DKNation will be going through all 30 teams ahead of the season, looking at how the roster shapes up for the 2021-22 campaign. Here we take a look at the Portland Trail Blazers, who will lean on their star backcourt in the midst of a controversial coaching change.
Portland Trail Blazers 2021-22 Outlook
Key additions: Dennis Smith Jr., Cody Zeller, Tony Snell
The Trail Blazers didn’t do much to shake up the roster in the offseason, bringing back Norman Powell in free agency while adding some depth with Zeller and Snell. Smith Jr. has upside as a former lottery pick, but has been unable to put it together so far. Maybe new head coach Chauncey Billups can unlock his potential.
Key departures: Zach Collins, Carmelo Anthony
Collins is not going to be missed, as the big man rarely suited up for the Blazers during his tenure. Anthony emerged as a reliable bench scorer for Portland, but he opted to join his friend LeBron James in Los Angeles to chase a ring. The Blazers will miss Anthony’s scoring, but his defensive lapses cost them games at times.
This season didn’t start well with Billups being hired despite some significant off-court concerns. The Blazers went ahead with the decision anyway. Lillard and McCollum are stars, but they have not been able to do much together. Making the playoffs should be easy, but the Blazers want to go further. It’s unlikely this duo will be the one to get them there.
Fantasy basketball player to watch: Jusuf Nurkic
Nurkic is a beast on the boards, but Portland is counting on him to become a more reliable third scorer in the starting unit. The center has missed some time due to injuries in the past, but can be a very productive fantasy player at a low cost to owners. Nurkic is going to be in contention for the rebounding title and although his defensive skills need some work, he’s capable on that side of the ball too. For fantasy owners looking to get value late in drafts or in DFS, Nurkic is a strong option.