2017-2018 NBA Previews – Trail Blazers Odds
Looking for 2017 Portland Trail Blazers Predictions? We’ve got your back. The Portland Trail Blazers exceeded all expectations two seasons ago. Vegas set the over under at 26.5 games for 2015-16 season, yet it found a way to make the second round of the playoffs.
Last year? 2016-17 can’t be considered a failure, but it was ultimately a season defined by unmet expectations despite its eighth place finish in a tough Western Conference.
Portland Team Season Preview
Head Coach: Terry Stotts
2016-17 Record: 41-41
Blazers Odds to NBA Title: +20000
Blazers Odds to Win Conference: +10000
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Entering the 2017-18 season, expectations have been tempered. Nobody is picking this squad to make a substantial leap, as many pundits did a year ago, and they currently sit with the Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies tied for 10th-best odds to win the West.
All that said, this group does have a burgeoning Big Three with Jusuf Nurkic set to play his first full season alongside one of the most talented backcourts in the league in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
Portland Trail Blazers Strengths:
The Blazers’ strengths really do begin with the backcourt. The two star guards combined to score 50.0 points per game, and Lillard and McCollum each shot 37 and 42 percent from the three-point line, respectively.
With the addition of Nurkic, Portland officially has a third scoring option. He escaped Denver (via trade) where he had fallen out of the rotation last year and has established a permanent starting spot in Rip City.
Along with his scoring ability, he’s a better playmaker than most people in Denver (and across the league at the time) gave him credit for. He can pass both off the block and off the elbow, setting up Portland’s fourth and fifth scoring options (whoever they happen to be on any particular night).
Defensively, Portland struggles, but Nurk—a.k.a. The Bosnian Beast—proved during his second-half stint in Rip City that he can defend the rim, which is a huge plus considering Lillard and McCollum both struggle containing bigger, more athletic guards.
Along with Nurkic, the Blazers have a solid perimeter defender in Al-Farouq Aminu. The problem is that head coach Terry Stotts typically uses him at the 4 in small-ball rotations, meaning his defensive strengths really aren’t being utilized to the fullest.
Portland Trail Blazers Weaknesses:
Speaking of not utilizing defensive strengths, this team needs to figure out a way to get other players involved. If it were willing to play someone like Ed Davis more minutes at the 4 and slide Aminu back down to the 3, that could be a quick solution.
The problem is that Davis is an old-school big in a league infatuated with unicorns and position-less basketball. Playing him more minutes means the team is failing to adapt to the new-school style.
While we’re on the topic of the team’s bigs, this squad needs to figure out its rotation in the frontcourt. As of now, backing up Nurkic and Aminu is Davis, Meyers Leonard, Noah Vonleh, Zach Collins and Caleb Swanigan.
The latter two are both rookies, but with there being so many question marks in the rotation at this time, it’s not unfathomable to believe one if not both could see significant run this season to spark a fire and pump some life back into the low post.
Portland Trail Blazers Betting Prediction: 43-39
With Nurkic on board for the entire season (assuming he can stay healthy), this team is going to improve. It went .500 a year ago, so giving this team two extra wins is actually a conservative bet at this point in the process.
But here’s the catch: The improvement internally can’t be viewed in a vacuum. You have to look at how this team improved in comparison to its conference.
This season, the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers both got worse, but it’s debatable as to whether or not they fell out of the playoff race.
The Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves both got substantially better, and the New Orleans Pelicans, although still a massive question mark, are just going into their first full season with both Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins in the same starting lineup.
The Blazers will be better this year, and as Nurkic continues to improve and work himself back into game shape, that should be the theme for the next two or three seasons.
But for them to take a monumental step forward, they needed to either add a star or see the teams behind them (Denver and Minnesota) stay behind them.
Neither of those things happened, which means Portland’s looking at being in the late-seed playoff hunt again this year.
2017 NBA Gambling
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