• The Blazers folded up shop in 2021-22 as an injury to Damian Lillard laid all of their problems bare. A retool started, with Portland trading CJ McCollum, Norman Powell, Robert Covington and Larry Nance Jr. away, and for the first time in a long time the Blazers seemed willing to just let their young players get big minutes and develop, warts and all. This season was supposed to be different; more offseason transactions revamped the roster and the Blazers were looking for those young players to take another step forward. It all happened under the looming specter of Lillard’s happiness with the direction of the organization.

    How’d It Go?

    Not great. The Blazers are feeling the pressure of Lillard possibly-maybe-hinting at wanting out eventually, which is a stark reversal after he built his brand on being the superstar talent who wanted to stick it out. Trading McCollum was one step, and more changes seemed to be coming. The Blazers realized that their offense-only, small backcourt build wasn’t going to cut it. They then signed Anfernee Simons to a big contract and re-signed Jusuf Nurkic. In their defense, Portland also decided to finally address their wing group by trading for Jerami Grant, giving the Blazers someone who can actually harass opposing forwards on the perimeter and take some offensive pressure of Lillard and Simons.

    Unfortunately for the Blazers, it just wasn’t enough in a supercharged conference. The return of Lillard gave them a shot at the postseason but huge leaps from the Kings and Thunder made things more difficult, and a healthy Zion Williamson put the Pelicans firmly in the mix as well. Lillard was absolute dynamite but the writing was on the wall about a month before the end of the year and he would get shut down for the second season in a row. The Gary Payton II signing was supposed to bolster the defense but ended up as a disaster. Portland wound up trading Josh Hart, who just wasn’t a fit in the offense, and then Nurkic, Simons and Grant all got shut down as well, with injuries of varying severity knocking out the starting five.

    Rookie Shaedon Sharpe, who sat out his lone college season, took off during silly season and gives the Blazers a potential long-term prospect with elite athleticism on the wing. He was much more polished than anticipated and looks to have a head start on his development compared to outside expectations. Beyond that, however, it was another season of the Blazers fighting an uphill battle that they never really had a chance of winning. The roster was better and much more suitable for the modern game, but still not good enough.


    Chauncey Billups has yet to finish a season with a full roster. It’s hard to get on his case given the magnitude of the late absences and the roster-building from above, but it hasn’t been a great two seasons to start out. The Blazers finished 26th in Net Rating; 18th in Offense and 28th in Defense. Again, roster construction issues come into play, but a nearly-full season of Lillard, who had a few months of sheer brilliance, should yield better than that.

    The two years of his tenure have been inconclusive at best, and that’s not exactly a defense for what we’ve seen. Billups was brought in to bring this team to new heights, allegedly by building a competent defense. Even with the mitigating factors, Billups hasn’t proven himself to be part of the solution. That’s problematic on its own with Lillard’s clock ticking and the Blazers no closer to getting into the postseason, let alone making real noise. Not Making Things Worse isn’t a ringing endorsement for a team that badly needs some positive momentum.

    We can credit Billups with the development of Simons and other players like Nassir Little and Trendon Watford, but is that really enough given where the Blazers need to be? Hopefully we can get some real answers about Billups’ quality as a coach in his third season.

    The Players

    Damian Lillard
    PG, Portland Trail Blazers
    22-23 POR 58 58 36.3 9.6 20.7 46.3 8.8 9.6 91.4 4.2 11.3 37.1 32.2 4.8 7.3 0.9 0.3 3.3
    21-22 POR 29 29 36.3 7.7 19.0 40.2 5.5 6.2 87.8 3.2 9.8 32.4 24.0 4.1 7.3 0.6 0.4 2.9
    20-21 POR 67 66 35.3 8.9 19.7 45.0 6.6 7.1 92.7 4.0 10.4 38.8 28.4 4.2 7.4 0.9 0.3 3.0

    ADP: 16/14 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 11/14 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 6/7 (8/9-cat)

    Lillard was facing some big questions for really the first time since he took a star turn, between the possibility that he might want out of a go-nowhere situation and the fact that he was coming off a major absence, which put the cap on a season where Lillard just wasn’t himself. It was a relatively slow start with more missed shots than usual but Lillard found his stride pretty quickly, and when he did it was lights out. The annual first-round lock ended up in that same territory once again, as his efforts to carry the Blazers through the postseason chase led to monstrous box scores night after night after night.

    Lillard finished as a solid return on his ADP despite missing the final 10 games of the season with a calf issue. A sluggish start (by his standards) faded quickly and managers who were able to swing a buy-low made out like bandits. He was the No. 1 player in fantasy for well over a month prior to getting shut down and scored at least 20 points in the final 32 games of his season, sprinkling in some truly absurd performance along the way: three 40-point games, three 41-point games, a 50-point game, a 60-point game and a 71-point masterpiece. Lillard emphatically answered the questions laid at his feet entering the season; the only matters left unresolved are the responsibility of the front office.

    Jerami Grant
    PF, Portland Trail Blazers
    22-23 POR 63 63 35.7 6.9 14.5 47.5 4.4 5.4 81.3 2.3 5.7 40.1 20.5 4.5 2.4 0.8 0.8 1.8
    21-22 DET 47 47 31.9 6.3 14.9 42.6 4.6 5.5 83.8 1.9 5.4 35.8 19.2 4.1 2.4 0.9 1.0 1.8
    20-21 DET 54 54 33.9 7.4 17.3 42.9 5.4 6.4 84.5 2.1 6.1 35.0 22.3 4.6 2.8 0.6 1.1 2.0

    ADP: 110/79 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 83/86 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 68/72 (8/9-cat)

    Grant was able to elevate his personal stock as a go-to guy on some awful Detroit teams, and aside from his shutdown risk there was a lot for fantasy GMs to like. He was a sneaky value as a quality role player in his earlier days and was able to outdo some of the changes in his stat profile thanks to the sheer volume he got with the Pistons. Grant also raised some eyebrows at last season’s trade deadline when it was leaked that he’d prefer to be an offensive focal point of his team, even if it meant not getting traded to a team with title aspirations. Add it all together, and this past season we saw Grant sort of split the difference everywhere. He was traded to a Portland team that still fed him shots, and though they were more competitive than the Pistons, they also didn’t go anywhere. Grant’s scoring improved despite more of a secondary role because he hit more of his shots and wasn’t forced into ugly attempts thanks to the caliber of his teammates. And while the Blazers tried to win, they still ended up shutting him down — just late enough to not completely tank most teams.

    Grant’s fantasy returns were held steady simply by staying healthy and not tanking percentages, even though his defensive output took a step back. He rode a very hot start behind the 3-point line to early success and did hit a lull in the middle of the season, but Grant was a fairly well-rounded contributor when the dust settled. The Blazers addressed their wing issues in a meaningful way by adding Grant, and it was a pleasant surprise that he could fit in and still get his numbers without needing to dominate the action. It’s something to remember as he mulls over an extension with Portland this summer.

    Anfernee Simons
    SG, Portland Trail Blazers
    22-23 POR 62 62 35.0 7.5 16.9 44.7 2.6 2.9 89.4 3.4 9.1 37.7 21.1 2.6 4.1 0.7 0.2 2.1
    21-22 POR 57 30 29.5 6.2 14.0 44.3 1.8 2.0 88.8 3.1 7.8 40.5 17.3 2.6 3.9 0.5 0.1 2.0
    20-21 POR 63 17.2 2.6 6.3 41.8 0.7 0.9 80.0 1.9 4.4 42.6 7.8 2.2 1.4 0.3 0.1 0.7

    ADP: 103/91 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 98/107 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 85/101 (8/9-cat)

    Simons put himself on the map while Lillard was out to close 2021-22, posting top-70 value in 22 games as the lead guard. His ADP reflected the fact that fantasy managers weren’t ready to go all-in given Lillard’s return, but Simons held up his end of the bargain and might’ve been a little underrated in certain spots. It can be tempting to write off late-season numbers as useless products of silly season, but Simons can hoop.

    His catch-and-shoot skills mitigated the impact of Lillard’s presence and Simons, fresh off a big new contract, put up the best season of his brief career. You can question Portland’s decision to pivot from one undersized, score-first guard to a smaller, more score-first guard, but fantasy managers were able to plug and play whenever Simons was healthy. If there’s a complaint about a player who ended up right around his ADP, it’s that Simons struggled with consistency. Managers who rolled with the punches ended up alright but there were weeks where the shots just weren’t dropping. It’s something that he’ll need to learn as he continues to develop.

    Jusuf Nurkic
    C, Portland Trail Blazers
    22-23 POR 52 52 26.8 5.0 9.7 51.9 2.4 3.7 66.1 0.8 2.3 36.1 13.3 9.1 2.9 0.8 0.8 2.3
    21-22 POR 56 56 28.2 5.7 10.7 53.5 3.3 4.8 69.0 0.3 1.0 26.8 15.0 11.1 2.8 1.1 0.6 2.6
    20-21 POR 36 36 23.9 4.5 9.0 50.5 1.9 3.0 62.6 0.3 0.8 37.9 11.2 8.9 3.4 1.0 1.0 1.9

    ADP: 88/68 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 169/184 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 103/123 (8/9-cat)

    At this point, anyone drafting Nurkic is just chasing the ghost of his incredible run in the Disney Bubble. He’s still a solid player and the Blazers are better when he’s at his best, but those nights are spreading out more and more as he ages. The injuries are mounting and extend beyond Portland’s tank, as Nurkic missed 14 straight games with a calf strain and only made a seven-game cameo from February onward. Nurkic’s playing time continues to trend away from 30 mpg and his defensive production is following suit, as previous per-minute career rates just haven’t appeared since his significant injuries.

    With all that said, there are still pockets of vintage output; he was able to string together a few weeks of top-80 play in the winter, and can threaten higher than that when he’s rolling and hitting his free throws. The big problem is that once again, Nurk proved incapable of holding that level all season long. Portland could do a lot worse at center but it wouldn’t be shocking if they explored some upgrades going forward. Nurkic’s body (and the Blazers’ record) has betrayed him consistently in the last few years and his ADP hasn’t caught up. There was still some juice worth the squeeze in punt-FT% builds but otherwise Nurkic ended up letting managers down.

    Justise Winslow
    SF, Portland Trail Blazers
    22-23 POR 29 11 26.8 2.8 6.8 40.9 0.7 1.0 71.4 0.5 1.6 31.1 6.8 5.0 3.4 1.0 0.4 1.5
    21-22 POR 48 11 16.1 2.3 5.4 42.8 0.8 1.4 59.1 0.3 1.4 22.7 5.7 4.2 1.8 0.7 0.5 1.0
    20-21 MEM 26 1 19.5 2.8 8.1 35.2 0.8 1.3 57.1 0.4 2.1 18.5 6.8 4.5 1.9 0.6 0.5 1.4

    ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 319/322 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 189/216 (8/9-cat)

    Winslow’s no longer a hot prospect who could be on the cusp of a breakthrough. He’s just not the player people wanted to see coming out of college, though he has settled into a role as a quality rotation forward with some extra playmaking skills. Traded to Portland from the Clippers, Winslow ended up averaging 10.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.6 blocks and 0.9 3-pointers across 11 games before getting shut down with the Blazers in 2021-22, giving deep-league managers something to consider.

    Winslow did manage to deliver on that modest promise at times, setting up shop in the triple-double neighborhood a few times early on when Jerami Grant was ailing. His versatility made him a rotation fixture for a Blazers team that needed big help at forward, even with Jerami Grant in town. Efficiency was a problem, which isn’t exactly news, but Winslow was generally able to provide usable output in rebounds, assists and steals if you could hold your nose and ignore some ugly shooting lines. He was unable to benefit from Portland’s late tank, however, as a left ankle injury would keep Winslow out of the final 50 games of the season.

    Matisse Thybulle
    SG, Portland Trail Blazers
    22-23 POR 71 28 16.9 1.5 3.6 43.5 0.3 0.4 67.9 0.8 2.1 36.5 4.1 2.0 0.7 1.2 0.5 0.3
    21-22 PHI 65 49 25.4 2.3 4.6 49.7 0.5 0.7 79.1 0.7 2.2 31.0 5.7 2.3 1.1 1.8 1.1 0.6
    20-21 PHI 65 8 20.0 1.6 3.7 42.0 0.1 0.3 44.4 0.7 2.2 30.1 3.9 1.9 1.0 1.6 1.1 0.5

    ADP: 140/140 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 201/176 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 251/221 (8/9-cat)

    The Sixers abandoned the Thybulle experience this year, loading up on forwards and wings in the offseason and then keeping Thybulle out of the rotation until injuries struck. There was no tolerance for his lack of offensive improvement and it became a matter of waiting to see which other team would kick the tires on Thybulle at the deadline. Portland came calling, and his skills were very much in need, but Thybulle’s lack of run in meaningful games will cloud judgment a bit.

    Even so, it’s hard to complain about what he did once minutes were available. Thybulle was a top-100 guy in 9-cat in the 22 games after he was traded, averaging 7.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.8 blocks and 1.5 triples in 27.7 mpg for Portland. That’s shaded by plenty of absences but it is a reminder of why Thybulle has kept fantasy GMs intrigued even as coaches have cut him out of the equation. We’ll see what the offseason holds for Thybulle’s potential playing time.

    Shaedon Sharpe
    SG, Portland Trail Blazers
    22-23 POR 80 15 22.2 3.8 8.1 47.2 0.9 1.3 71.4 1.3 3.5 36.0 9.9 3.0 1.2 0.5 0.3 1.0

    ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 192/205 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 276/285 (8/9-cat)

    Sharpe was a long-term pick by the Blazers, with his last competitive game action prior to this season coming in high school. He was expected to slow cook on the bench and get coached up, but Portland’s slide down the standings made him more viable for nightly action with each passing game. To Sharpe’s credit, he seized the opportunities as they came and was the only reason to tune into Blazers games by the end of the year. The bounce is undeniable and Sharpe answers some big questions for this roster if he can pan out.

    Fantasy-wise, Sharpe was only a name to know in dynasty formats for most of the season, but once Lillard, Simons and Grant started to miss games after the All-Star break, it was all systems go. With averages of 20.6 points, 2.8 3-pointers, 5.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 32 minutes per game over the last three weeks of the season, including solid percentages, it’s clear that Sharpe can deliver some intriguing statistical performances even as he learns the ropes. He won’t be able to hit his ceiling with Portland at full tilt, but he’s done enough to earn a larger opportunity on opening night, and Sharpe is capable of using that as a springboard.

    Drew Eubanks
    C, Portland Trail Blazers
    22-23 POR 78 28 20.3 2.7 4.3 64.1 1.1 1.6 66.4 0.1 0.2 38.9 6.6 5.4 1.3 0.5 1.3 0.9
    21-22 POR 71 31 17.5 3.1 5.2 59.6 1.4 1.8 76.2 0.1 0.3 21.7 7.7 5.4 1.2 0.4 0.6 1.1
    20-21 SA 54 3 14.0 2.1 3.8 56.6 1.4 2.0 72.6 0.0 0.0 100.0 5.8 4.5 0.8 0.3 0.9 0.8

    ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 133/114 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 174/150 (8/9-cat)

    Eubanks has established himself as a high-energy big man and was able to make an impact in fantasy leagues for the second straight year. Both times, he’s filled in for Nurkic during lengthy absences in the second half of the campaign. Eubanks doesn’t hold a ton of standalone value but he was an obvious pickup whenever Nurkic hit the injury report and managers could confidently anticipate late-round numbers on a sturdy, predictable stat set. It’s unlikely that Eubanks would hold up in a larger role (on a team that’s trying to win) so we’ve likely seen the best of him in the league, but there’s always going to be a reason to keep tabs on him until Nurkic can shake the injury bug.

    Cam Reddish
    SF, Portland Trail Blazers
    22-23 POR 40 20 24.8 3.5 7.8 44.6 1.6 1.9 85.3 1.1 3.6 31.2 9.7 2.2 1.4 1.0 0.4 1.2
    21-22 NY 49 6 20.7 3.4 8.3 40.4 2.1 2.3 90.2 1.3 3.8 35.9 10.1 2.1 1.0 1.0 0.3 1.2
    20-21 ATL 26 21 28.8 3.7 10.1 36.5 2.6 3.2 81.7 1.3 4.8 26.2 11.2 4.0 1.3 1.3 0.3 1.3

    ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 280/281 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 212/222 (8/9-cat)

    The Knicks traded a first-round pick for Reddish last season but he could never win the favor of Tom Thibodeau and wasted away on the bench, only getting dusted off briefly when injuries struck. Another move was in the best interest of all parties and Reddish ended up in Portland, where the team’s depth chart meant he’d get a fair shake at playing time. Their shutdowns gave Reddish more than a fair shake, and he had a few notable moments when the Blazers were shorthanded even before that. There was a solid month of time when Reddish had standard-league appeal thanks to his steals and 3-pointers, but percentages remained an issue. It all culminated in top-200 value (9-cat) after the deadline. It’s hard to say what the future holds for Reddish, whose development has been extremely stop-and-start. The Blazers could use a guy like Reddish if he can get his career on track, but you could say that about a lot of players and a lot of teams. They may not want to wait around for him to learn on the fly given the urgency of the situation.

    Nassir Little
    SF, Portland Trail Blazers
    22-23 POR 54 4 18.1 2.5 5.6 44.2 0.6 0.9 71.7 1.1 2.9 36.7 6.6 2.6 0.9 0.4 0.4 0.7
    21-22 POR 42 23 25.9 3.5 7.5 46.0 1.6 2.2 73.4 1.2 3.7 33.1 9.8 5.6 1.3 0.6 0.9 1.0
    20-21 POR 47 2 13.5 1.6 3.5 46.1 0.8 1.0 80.0 0.6 1.7 35.0 4.6 2.7 0.5 0.1 0.3 0.4

    ADP: 140/160 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 302/304 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 337/329 (8/9-cat)

    Little was building some serious momentum in 2021-22 on a roster bereft of forwards, only for a left labral tear to slow him down. Jerami Grant’s arrival put the kibosh on any notions of Little earning a starting spot and a left femoral head fracture prevented him from gaining significant momentum after a steady start that put him on the deep-league map as a source of rebounds and steals. He was able to return and had a few big games here and there, but Little wasn’t one of the Blazers who received a huge boost in silly season. You can interpret that as the team viewing him highly enough to keep him out of that environment, at least, but it was a step backward overall this year.

    Trendon Watford
    PF, Portland Trail Blazers
    22-23 POR 62 12 19.1 2.9 5.2 56.0 1.2 1.6 72.0 0.4 1.0 39.1 7.4 3.8 2.1 0.5 0.2 1.1
    21-22 POR 48 10 18.1 3.0 5.6 53.2 1.5 2.0 75.5 0.2 0.8 23.7 7.6 4.1 1.7 0.5 0.6 0.9

    ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 244/252 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 260/283 (8/9-cat)

    Watford was only an occasional presence before March, but he did play a big part in fantasy leagues that went right to Easter Sunday. He was one of the Blazers who benefited most from silly season and had brief flirtations with value during Jerami Grant’s absences throughout the year. The stat set was fairly hollow but as the season wound down, Watford got more than enough playing time to get by on his points and rebounds, with that massive role allowing him to stumble into a few blocks as well. It’s not particularly repeatable but the reps were good to get under the belt, and Watford looks like he belongs enough to be a potential rotation option moving forward.

    Kevin Knox II
    SF, Portland Trail Blazers
    22-23 POR 63 5 15.1 2.4 5.3 45.8 0.7 1.0 76.7 1.0 3.0 34.9 6.6 2.8 0.5 0.4 0.2 0.8
    21-22 ATL 30 1 7.4 1.0 2.8 36.5 0.5 0.7 72.7 0.5 1.8 27.8 3.1 1.5 0.3 0.1 0.1 0.2
    20-21 NY 42 11.0 1.3 3.4 39.2 0.4 0.5 80.0 0.8 2.1 39.3 3.9 1.5 0.5 0.3 0.1 0.4

    ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 288/294 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 347/357 (8/9-cat)

    The last time Knox was truly of note in fantasy was back when he was a rookie with the Knicks, and even then he was one of the league’s emptiest producers and a net drag on any fantasy squad. We got a repeat of that, kind of, in the final weeks of the season when the Blazers ran a skeleton crew, only Knox delivered enough quality scoring nights to help managers in a bind. It’s nothing to get worked up about considering how little he accomplished with the Pistons to start the year but maybe he put enough on tape to entice another team in the future. The Blazers hold a $3 million team option for next season.

    Keon Johnson
    SG, Portland Trail Blazers
    22-23 POR 40 0 10.4 1.7 4.5 37.6 0.7 1.0 65.9 0.7 2.0 34.6 4.7 1.1 1.5 0.5 0.2 1.1
    21-22 POR 36 11 18.4 2.6 7.2 35.9 1.1 1.4 80.0 0.9 2.6 35.8 7.2 2.2 1.9 0.7 0.3 1.2

    ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 382/404 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 430/469 (8/9-cat)

    Johnson was the centerpiece of last year’s trade with the Clippers — sorry, we can’t call salary relief the centerpiece of a trade for the sake of competitive spirit — and had a decent run down the stretch. A fresh start for the Blazers meant that Johnson would not be a regular rotation player, however, and he was largely out of the mix until injuries hit. Despite his upside as a prospect, Johnson rarely saw meaningful action for more than three or four nights in a row and was unable to get in on the fun of March and April — he had three solid games in a row with some action at point guard, and then suffered a fractured fifth finger that ended his season. We still have yet to see what Johnson looks like on a functional, competitive team, so hopefully there’s lots of development work being done behind the scenes.

    Jabari Walker
    PF, Portland Trail Blazers
    22-23 POR 56 0 11.1 1.5 3.5 41.9 0.6 0.8 75.6 0.3 1.0 28.6 3.9 2.3 0.6 0.2 0.2 0.5

    ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 367/373 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 451/455 (8/9-cat)

    The Blazers drafted Walker at No. 57 and was predictably an afterthought for most of the season. He was able to collect a few usable fantasy lines towards the end of the season, and the Blazers were wise to use those meaningless games as an opportunity to see what the 6’7″ forward can do. Walker was also asked to play up in the frontcourt at times, and perhaps he can lean on that versatility to earn a longer look in future seasons.

    Skylar Mays
    SG, Portland Trail Blazers
    22-23 POR 6 6 31.5 5.7 11.3 50.0 2.0 2.2 92.3 2.0 4.3 46.2 15.3 3.2 8.3 1.0 0.2 1.7
    21-22 ATL 28 5 7.9 1.1 2.3 50.0 0.3 0.3 88.9 0.3 0.9 32.0 2.9 0.9 0.6 0.3 0.0 0.4
    20-21 ATL 32 7.6 1.2 2.7 42.5 0.7 0.8 88.0 0.4 1.1 34.3 3.4 1.0 0.7 0.4 0.0 0.3

    ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 413/402 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 49/37 (8/9-cat)

    Here’s your silly season MVP. Mays was brought in late in the game but ended up stepping into a vacant spot on the depth chart. The ex-Hawk was put right into a starting role and had no competition for minutes, allowing him to rack up big numbers in free-flowing games where losing was the team’s end goal. He can definitely create plays for others at the NBA level and this little audition could keep his career afloat.

    Jeenathan Williams
    SF, Portland Trail Blazers
    22-23 POR 5 4 25.4 4.8 7.8 61.5 0.4 0.6 66.7 0.6 1.6 37.5 10.6 3.0 2.0 0.6 0.4 0.8

    ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 454/450 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 181/159 (8/9-cat)

    Williams joined the Blazers in March and they immediately forked over a starting opportunity and big minutes as the injury report ran 15 names deep with the tank moving at full speed. It’s hard to get a read on any player in such a small sample size, especially given the state of the roster and the quality of the games he played in, but Williams can shoot it a little bit. The Blazers gave him a two-year deal and even though next season is not guaranteed, you can read that as some intrigue from the front office. He’ll compete for a spot in camp.

    John Butler Jr.
    PF, Portland Trail Blazers
    22-23 POR 19 1 11.6 0.9 2.8 32.1 0.2 0.2 75.0 0.4 1.8 22.9 2.4 0.9 0.6 0.4 0.5 0.1

    ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 445/425 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 448/410 (8/9-cat)

    Butler was yet another player who wasn’t a factor until silly season. Outside of extremely deep leagues there wasn’t much gained by tracking the big man out of Florida State.

    Ibou Badji
    C, Portland Trail Blazers
    22-23 POR 0 0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0

    ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: N/A/N/A (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: N/A/N/A (8/9-cat)

    Badji signed a two-way deal with the Blazers in November but never appeared in a game. He dealt with left knee soreness for a handful of weeks before receiving season-ending surgery in early March.

    Chance Comanche
    C, Portland Trail Blazers
    22-23 POR 1 0 21.0 3.0 5.0 60.0 1.0 4.0 25.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 7.0 3.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 0.0

    ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 536/534 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 536/535 (8/9-cat)

    Comanche was signed on the final day of the season and immediately logged 21 minutes with the Blazers running as light as possible. We’ll see if that earns him a look from someone else in training camp.

    Justin Minaya
    SF, Portland Trail Blazers
    22-23 POR 4 0 22.3 1.8 5.8 30.4 0.0 0.3 0.0 0.8 3.0 25.0 4.3 3.8 1.0 0.5 1.3 1.0

    ADP: N/A/N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 485/484 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 307/325 (8/9-cat)

    Minaya latched on with the Blazers for the last week of the season and although he was immediately plugged into the rotation, he didn’t shoot well enough to warrant attention in fantasy.

    Fantasy Star

    It is unquestionably, as it usually is, Damian Lillard. Everything the organization does moving forward has to be viewed through the lens of keeping Lillard happy in Portland; without him this team is looking at a painful rebuild. In case anyone forgot how good Dame can be after a lost campaign in 2021-22, he swiftly reminded everyone that he has legitimate claim to being the best point guard in the game. Few players inspire fear in opponents like Lillard, and he left a number of teams in his wake during a torrid second half that saw Lillard settle in as the No. 1 player in fantasy basketball for several weeks.

    While the first significant injury of his career left some managers a bit skeptical of Lillard, perhaps the extended layoff did him some good. Lillard has to carry an immense burden for this team and getting a few extra months to recharge seemed to have him playing inspired ball deep into the schedule, peaking when the Blazers needed him most even though his teammates couldn’t keep up. You know what you’re getting with Lillard, and the security of elite numbers every night is worth its weight in gold. Hopefully the Blazers can get better and Lillard can deliver through the end of the fantasy playoffs.

    Fantasy Letdown

    Since you can’t assign the Fantasy Letdown award to an entire team, we’ll give it to Jusuf Nurkic, who continued to slide away from the form that once had him as a candidate to knock on the door of the top-40. He only appeared in eight games after February began, and one of those was a two-minute appearance in which he strained his calf. Even before that, Nurkic’s playing time was down as the arrival of Jerami Grant allowed the Blazers to be a bit more malleable in their lineups, with more small-ball looks limiting Nurk’s access to minutes and stats.

    The most concerning thing here is the decline in his rate of steals and blocks — even with Nurkic’s per-game block numbers increasing from the previous season. He may never be a 34 mpg player but in the past Nurkic has still been able to post positive blocks and steals. If this is just the way the Blazers play defense now it’s going to be a rough ride. The free throws were already punt-worthy and although Nurkic had a few big runs of play in November and January, it wasn’t enough to get him close to his ADP. Perhaps this will be the year when he’s no longer drafted to be a roster pillar.

    One to Watch

    There’s little doubt that this goes to Shaedon Sharpe. He blew past all expectations this season, even before he was given the keys to the kingdom. The athleticism was on full display immediately and he’s one of the top in-game dunkers in the league. What comes next will be critical, but Sharpe has already established a strong baseline for himself. Can he reliably become a secondary scorer while playing off Portland’s top guys? Or is Sharpe stuck as the leader of a second unit? There’s still so much potential here and it’ll be on Portland’s development staff to get the rest of his game up to speed.

    Raw prospects tend to struggle with efficiency but Sharpe was able to post huge numbers while being the focal point of opposing defenses down the stretch. He’s made it clear that he deserves playing time every night but there will be a balancing act when he inevitably hits speed bumps, given that the Blazers may not have the patience to work with rocky play. Either way, Sharpe is a big part of Portland’s future regardless of what happens with the rest of the roster.

    One Burning Question

    Now what? The Blazers made some moves to shuffle up the core and added some solid forward depth after that position killed them in recent seasons. It didn’t yield much. With Lillard’s future increasingly up in the air, how many more kicks at the can do the Blazers get, and what do they do with them? Portland now has to face the question of what to pay Grant, or if they should pay him at all. The Blazers are facing steep competition as the teams in the West that went for a full rebuild are starting to pass them by — even a Jazz team that traded two All-Stars passed them by. Can this core be salvaged? How significant do the changes need to be before the Blazers just decide to end the Lillard era? There are so many variables here, with so much pressure on the team to do right by their star. Portland took some steps in the right direction this year but more needs to be done given the lack of results. How the team proceeds will be the burning question not only for this summer, but for years to come.

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