Would the Portland Trail Blazers have eventually won a championship during the Lillard-Aldridge regime? Nicolas Batum joined the Posted Up with Chris Haynes Pod to discuss his prediction.
Time has made it difficult to remember, but once upon a time, Nicolas Batum was among the NBA’s best at his position. Pairing his capabilities as a defensive chameleon and his penchant for stuffing the box score in any trackable statistic known to man, he once threatened for All-Star caliber respect and fit in seamlessly with a Portland Trail Blazers team that resided around the top of the Western Conference standings.
To the Blazers’ front office, the consensus was that you could put him alongside LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard, among others, and together, they could become a group capable of competing for a championship.
And though injuries guaranteed that this thought would become nothing more than a “What If,” Batum recently took to Posted Up with Chris Haynes Pod to entertain the idea with Yahoo Sports senior NBA Insider Chris Haynes. The two had an intriguing dialogue. Here’s one piece of it:
"Haynes: “You signed an offer sheet with Minnesota at the time, Portland matched, and you had good years there with Damian Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge … some real good years, and some would say if that team stuck together, they might have squeezed a championship, or at least got to the Finals. Is that your belief? What if that team stuck together back then?Batum: “You know what? Yeah. I feel like we could’ve been special. Really special. I mean, the oldest guy was LaMarcus. I think he was 28, 29. So we were pretty young. And yeah, I still don’t really know why. They had success after that, so I’m really glad for them. Dame and CJ (McCollum) have been great since then.”"
Batum brings up a unique note, with how remarkable Portland’s featured stars had become in such constrained time. In 2014-15, they rostered a core of Aldridge (29-years-old), Lillard (24), Batum (26), Matthews (28), and Lopez (26) with McCollum (23), meaning that this group would have had a lengthy title window if health permitted.
Batum said he thought that if the team would’ve had two more seasons, their chance could’ve come. Injuries in 2014-15 derailed his progress too, but he remained a steady, consistent force. Over a two-year postseason stretch from 2013-14 to 2014-15, he averaged 14.9 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game.
The question itself will never have a definitive answer, but in my estimation, they would’ve had an excellent chance to win a championship with the roster as it was once constructed. At the very least, this Portland Trail Blazers regime provided memories in surplus.
For the Blazers fans that do support Batum, the rest of the pod deserves a listen as well. Haynes asks him about his transition as a Clipper, his experience in playing with multiple All-Star point guards, and what his future holds. The link to it can be found above.