Torrey Craig could be the 3-and-D wing the Trail Blazers need
It’s no secret that the Blazers are lacking on plus-defenders across the roster. Last season, the only players who positively impacted the defense were Powell, RoCo, Nurk, Derrick Jones Jr., and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Two of those players hardly took off their warm-ups and Powell has to guard players much bigger than him starting at the small forward slot.
DJJ and RHJ both have potential to be impactful wing defenders but neither of them has the requisite offensive skills necessary to stay on the court. Unless one of them develops a consistent outside jumper this summer, the Blazers need to add another 3-and-D wing.
Torrey Craig would be a great option for the Blazers to add this offseason.
Craig made a name for himself guarding Dame and CJ in the Blazers and Nuggets 2019 Western Conference Semifinals series. Portland knows all too well how versatile he can be as a defender.
Craig has the prototypical size to guard forwards, but his quickness and length allow him to cover guards as well. Watch as he uses his quick feet and length to close out on CJ after being screened and not only get off a good contest, but a clean block on a corner three.
To compete in the Western Conference, against star wings like LeBron, Kawhi Leonard, and Luka Doncic, the Blazers need another player capable of matching up against the best swingmen in the league.
Craig was lost in the shuffle while Denver was trying to sort out its immense wealth of role players. Part of the reason he was let go by the Nuggets was his spotty outside shot. But since leaving Denver, he’s averaged 38 percent from deep between his time with the Bucks and the Phoenix Suns. That improvement is a very encouraging sign for his future.
He’s currently playing reserve minutes for the Suns in their extended playoff run. Any team could use a 3-and-D wing of Craig’s caliber off the pine, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him nab a $5-10 million/multi-year contract this summer.
But if he somehow slips through the cracks again, the Blazer should not hesitate to offer him the full minimum.