The Portland Trail Blazers have needed to trade expecting father, CJ McCollum, for years now. That fact was only emphasized when they acquired Norman Powell, a more natural fit next to Damian Lillard due to his complementary abilities as a slasher and point-of-attack defender. Now, though, Anfernee Simons‘s inspired play has him gunning for the starting 2-guard spot, as well.
With Simons averaging 27.8 points and 7.6 assists in his last five games — all without Dame and CJ and the last two without Powell — Ant is confirming the belief that he’s a future star in this league; a burgeoning offensive force that refuses to be chained to the second-unit any longer.
Powell is on a team-friendly deal, and by signing that contract, he implied that he believed that he could play a part in turning the Portland Trail Blazers into true title contenders. Norm has the chops to be a starting guard on a championship team, but Portland’s roster construction has crafted a dicey situation. This squad is absolutely stacked at guard, so much so, that Powell could be the fourth-best backcourt member on the team on any given night.
Anfernee Simons’s ascension might be pushing Norman Powell off of the Portland Trail Blazers
Despite the insane amount of talent the Blazers have at the guard position, the rest of the depth chart leaves much to be desired.
The Trail Blazers have scarce options to try to improve the rest of the roster to launch a new era around Damian Lillard when he returns from his abdominal injury. Even if CJ McCollum is moved before the trade deadline, acquiring equal value for CJ won’t be nearly enough to get this team over the hump.
With Ant’s ascension, though, that frees up Norman Powell as another potential trade chip for a Blazers team that is short on them. Powell’s skills as a catch-and-shoot sniper, a self-starter on offense, a reliable defender, and a versatile stopper should have plenty of contenders pining after his services.
Outside of CJ McCollum, Norm might hold the most trade value out of all of the assets Portland is willing to move — given that Ant has been taken off the table.
If you’re a regular reader of my pieces or a follower of mine on Twitter, you know how much I love Norman Powell. But if Ant’s incendiary play continues, it’ll become impossible to justify bringing him off the bench for much longer; not to mention the fact that he’s also significantly raising the price tag on his next upcoming contract with each killer game.
With all of that in mind, if this “Anferno” continues, Interim General Manager Joe Cronin will be forced to consider trading Norman Powell. And if Simons’s recent level of play is sustainable, moving Norm to make way for Ant would be in the Portland Trail Blazers’ best interests.