Revisiting the national media’s predictions for the 2019-20 Portland Trail Blazers

Anfernee Simons, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Anfernee Simons, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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Portland Trail Blazers
Kent Bazemore, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

No. 3: KGW predicts Kent Bazemore to “exceed expectations” in Portland

One of the great sports soundbites of our generation came in October 2006, when Arizona Cardinals then-coach Dennis Green stormed into the press conference, in a rage after his team blew a 20-point lead, and aggressively declared: “(The Bears) are who we thought they were. If you wanna crown them, then crown their (butts).”

My hunch is that all summer long, we knew the truth. We tried to convince ourselves that subtracting the likes of Moe Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu wouldn’t be detrimental to a substantial degree, since we were welcoming in Kent Bazemore and Mario Hezonja.

Sure, there was some intrigue about Bazemore tapping into that Atlanta version of himself, stepping in as an undersized “3,” while simultaneously excelling as a “3-and-D” plug and benefiting from McCollum and Lillard’s gravity.

And that’s about what we expected. KGW’s Nate Hanson probably put it best, in describing what he thought and hoped for when Bazemore came to the PDX:

"“I’m going to say Kent Bazemore exceeds expectations. Because of the addition of Hassan Whiteside and Bazemore not being in the starting lineup, I think we forget about how important of an addition he can be for the Blazers. At his best, Bazemore is the 3-and-D player the Blazers have long coveted. I think he’ll be rejuvenated to be on a team with championship aspirations and may play himself into the starting lineup by season’s end.”"

KGW’s Orlando Sanchez also doubled down on those statements.

"“Kent Bazemore will exceed expectations this season. He’s in a great place mentally and physically this season. He’s embracing his role on the team and his new home. The thought of being on a team that can contend should bring out the best in him. His skill set fits the Blazers needs and he’s going to play big minutes as the sixth man or even as a starter. He’s going to have an impact on this team.”"

In the words of Green, Bazemore was what we thought he was — almost.

The defense was there. Absolutely. Weeks after the Blazers dealt him to Sacramento, the Kings wrote a great piece on his ascension, detailing how he ranked No. 13 among 129 shooting guards in defensive real plus-minus, and on how Portland’s defense was 7.0 points per possession stingier with Bazemore mucking it up.

Portland got the express shipping with his defense. It was the shooting that maybe they got to include in the order. Since going to the Kings, he’s miraculously found his shooting touch, the way he had as a Hawk. In Portland, things didn’t work out the way they had hoped on that end of the floor. Those championship aspirations never came into fruition. Another well-intended prediction that didn’t quite prevail.