The Portland Trail Blazers had playoff expectations and championship aspirations going into the 2021-22 NBA season, but have been one of the league’s biggest disappointments so far
Injuries, COVID, and lousy defense have combined to land the Portland Trail Blazers at 14-24 and in 12th place in the Western Conference.
Every single player on the Blazers’ roster has missed at least one game this season due to injuries or COVID, and their record certainly reflects the lack of lineup continuity that has flummoxed rookie head coach Chauncey Billups all season.
Portland is currently “battling” the Indiana Pacers and the Boston Celtics for the unenviable title of the league’s most puzzling and underachieving team, and is now facing some harsh medical realities regarding their best player.
The franchise in general has been relatively unstable the last half year or so, and not just because of the disruptions the virus has caused. Head Coach Terry Stotts was let go after nine seasons, with first round playoff exits in four of the most recent five years.
And General Manager Neil Olshey was fired five weeks ago, although it seems more like five months at this point. The official word was that Interim GM Joe Cronin would have free rein to make changes, but whether he wields full control of personnel decisions or is merely a placeholder remains to be seen.
The on court picture isn’t much prettier. Portland has far and away the worst defense in the league, and it will take more than a trade or two to fix that glaring and fatal flaw.
Let’s take a look at some steps Trail Blazers owner Jody Allen should consider as this season fades from grey to black.