Vegas Over/Under: 42.5
Fromal’s Record Projection: 43-39
The Bet: Prevent but lean over
The Western Conference is brutally hard, along with the Portland Trail Blazers’ previous cap missteps will wind up breaking them, as they did not have too many routes with which they can boost their roster.
They had to give up on Allen Crabbe within a cost-cutting sequence, trading him to move closer to avoiding luxury-tax penalties and potential interactions with the dreaded repeater tax.
But Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are still in Rip City, plus they will team up with Jusuf Nurkic to maintain this squad in playoff contention. Right now, it is hard to oversell precisely how significant that last part is.
The huge man, who was acquired in the Denver Nuggets at a midseason trade, broke out in a big way once he found himself in a new environment. He was focused on the defensive end compared before and flashed some easing flourishes which never showed up in the Mile High City.
While the Bosnian was on 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 concerns may also pop up as he’s tasked with enjoying extensive minutes for the very first time.
Especially with little convincing depth on the wings, do not expect the Blazers to take huge strides ahead. Nurkic should assist the star-studded backcourt maintain its playoff-caliber degree, but the group’s ceiling still feels fairly capped.