New-look Trail Blazers should fire away from 3-point range


Over the summer, the Portland Trail Blazers lost five of their best eight 3-point shooters from last season– not even including Nicolas Batum, who had a surprisingly poor season from beyond the arc, shooting just 32.4 percent.

In other words, the Trail Blazers only return three good distance shooters from last season. On top of this, the only player they added with a decent 3-point percentage is rookie guard Pat Connaughton. They now have a dearth of shooters.

Even with the Trail Blazers’ lack of long-range shooting on the roster, Head Coach Terry Stotts told Jared Greenberg and Joel Meyers on the Sirius XM Radio show, ‘Off the Dribble’ that he wants the team to continue to launch from deep next season.

Here’s his full comment regarding the Trail Blazers’ 3-point shooting, via The Oregonian:

"“The offensive end is going to be fluid, it’s going to be a work in progress because we’ve been one of the leaders in shooting threes over the last few years, obviously having LaMarcus (Aldridge) on the block to throw it to. We don’t have the number of three-point shooters, that’s going to be something that I want to improve on. I don’t want to just concede the fact that we’re not going to shoot as many threes.“Having Meyers Leonard on the court as a 7-footer who can make threes but still defend and have a presence at the defensive end. We’ve got a lot of players and I think one of the things I’m really looking forward to is seeing how things come together, how things evolve. See what some of the players can do that they haven’t really been put in position to do in the past.“I can’t tell you right now in August how the offense is going to look, but I think we’ve got enough players that have skills that we have to take advantage of.”"

That’s an optimistic take on the Trail Blazers’ roster if I’ve ever heard one, but what else is Stotts supposed to say? I mean, there is definitely going to be a problem scoring and finding a rotation of guys to play together without making Damian Lillard shoot 30 times per game, which might actually be the Trail Blazers’ best offense.

Even so, if building a team that can win in the future is the goal, Portland should be trying to develop several of the young players into role players. And, if anything was proven by the Golden State Warriors winning the championship this year, it’s that 3-point shooting is the great equalizer in the NBA, regardless of size, quickness, athleticism, etc.

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Portland has a bunch of athletes on the roster that haven’t proven they can do other things very well in the NBA yet. Al-Farouq Aminu, Moe Harkless, Noah Vonleh, and Gerald Henderson all have the ability to be solid role players. If Portland can develop them into shooters, they will be vital to Portland’s success when the team adds another star to play with Lillard.

I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking of this season as an audition of sorts for players to prove they can fit the system and play the way the NBA is shifting toward. We know Meyers Leonard, Lillard, and C.J. McCollum can make 3-pointers, but who else can step up and play the way Stotts likes to play?

That’s what this season is about; experimenting with lineups, finding guys who can play when the team has enough talent to really compete in the West. If you can’t make 3-pointers, it’s really hard to win the NBA, and Portland is not going to find out who can shoot without actively exploring their options.

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