A new starting 5 for Portland? Latest injury report for Blazers vs. 76ers

Jusuf Nurkic (left), Anfernee Simons, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Jusuf Nurkic (left), Anfernee Simons, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

It looks as though Portland head coach Chauncey Billups will get his first crack at a complete starting lineup tonight as the Trail Blazers take on the 76ers in Philadelphia.

Guard Anfernee Simons will make a second return from an ankle injury suffered on Valentine’s Day, while Jusuf Nurkic, who returned from a calf injury to play in Wednesday’s loss to Boston, will see an increase in minutes, according to Aaron J. Fentress of Oregonlive.com.

With Simons and Nurkic both in the lineup once again, there’s a key question Blazers fans will get to see Billups answer:

What will the Trail Blazers new starting five look like?

Until Portland traded Josh Hart to the New York Knicks at the trade deadline, the Blazers’ starting lineup was consistent: Damian Lillard, Simons, Hart, Jerami Grant, and Nurkic.

Four-fifths of that lineup is now healthy (ish). So who takes the spot vacated by Hart?

Apparently that decision is pretty easy to make. According to NBA.com, the final spot will go to Matisse Thybulle.

But should it be that simple?

An argument can be made that Cam Reddish deserves that position in Billups’ starting five. He’s been one of Portland’s best players since arriving from New York, averaging nearly 14 points on 39 percent shooting from three.

Reddish’s appeal, which originally made him a top-10 pick of the Atlanta Hawks, was his potential as a three-and-D wing. The key word in that sentence thus far in his career has been potential; since becoming a Blazer, though, Reddish is beginning to find his groove as that type of player.

Along with shooting almost 40 percent from deep on nearly 6 attempts a night, the 6-foot-7 former Duke standout is using his long arms, activity, and new found energy to snag 1.4 steals per game.

Logically, starting Thybulle and bringing Reddish off the bench makes sense. Thybulle is one of the premier defenders in the league, and the ability to bring Reddish off the bench as an over-qualified sixth man is enticing.

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Still, based on his play since he arrived in Rip City, Reddish deserves some consideration as the fifth member of Billups’ starting five.