2019-20 season is the Portland Trail Blazers’ best opportunity to win it all

CJ McCollum, Damian Lillard and head coach Terry Stotts of the Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
CJ McCollum, Damian Lillard and head coach Terry Stotts of the Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

The Portland Trail Blazers championship window has never been more wide open heading into the 2019-20 NBA season, and here’s why.

After besting the Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets in last year’s playoffs, the Portland Trail Blazers proved they had the makings of a true championship contender. This run is all the more impressive when you consider the fact that Jusuf Nurkic — the team’s third best player and defensive anchor — missed the entirety of the postseason due to injury.

This summer, the Blazers revamped their roster by replacing plodding offensive liabilities with versatile role players that can shoot and space the floor around Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Even if the defense remains somewhat of a question mark, this team’s offense should be the greatest it has been in a very long time.

While Portland may struggle out the gate incorporating all these new pieces into their lineup, that’s really not an issue. The Blazers aren’t aiming to be the best team in the regular season, their eyes are set on the championship. Conducting a series different lineups to see what works best through trial and error is the best bet early on, especially while Nurkic is still rehabilitating his injury.

Looking at their roster next year, the Blazers have just about everything a contending team could ask for. They will have two star players to push the tam forward each night (potentially three depending on how Nurkic’s recovery goes), a strong young core expected to make a big jump and contribute meaningful minutes, and a few expiring contracts that would be extremely desirable on the midseason trade market.

We already know Dame and CJ will get buckets, they’ve been consistently dominant for the last four years. It also doesn’t matter too much if players like Hassan Whiteside and Kent Bazemore struggle, they can be shipped out without much ill effect to the team. The group the Blazers are really counting on, is the young core.

If Zach Collins can transition smoothly into the starting lineup and serve as a smart rim protector with a deceptively good shot, if Anfernee Simons can step up and effectively serve as a quality backup ball handler to relieve the burden on Dame’s shoulders, if one of Gary Trent Jr. or Mario Hezonja can become key contributors in the rotation, then the Blazers will finally have the makings of a formidable contender.

The Blazers won’t get another chance if the youngsters let them down either, Portland’s title window is open now.

Although Portland’s payroll has skirted among the league’s highest for several years now, they haven’t yet nose-dived straight into financial hell… until now. With Lillard and McCollum set to receive their gargantuan extension money starting in the 2021-22 season, these next two years are the best opportunity the Blazers are ever going to get when it comes to putting a strong supporting cast around their two stars.

dark. Next. Rip City Project interviews Gary Trent Jr.

There are no guarantees in the world of basketball. Oftentimes, the team that wears the crown at the end of the season is just the one who got the most lucky. What the Portland Trail Blazers are doing is a gamble. But a calculated gamble. Whether it pays off or not, Neil Olshey has successfully positioned the team to actually win a title. What more can we ask for as fans?