How the Trail Blazers can emulate the Warriors’ championship formula

Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers, Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers, Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports /
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The NBA is a copycat league. Teams will mimic others around the association if they see that they have a working formula for success; this is apparent in multiple aspects, whether it’s roster constructions, lineups, styles of play, or in-game plays. One team the Portland Trail Blazers could benefit from trying to emulate is the Golden State Warriors.

(The obvious reason is that Damian Lillard is the closest thing the league has to the best shooter of all time, Stephen Curry).

Why the Blazers and Warriors share a similar dilemma

There are more similarities between the two teams other than two elite point guards. Last season, the Warriors were looked at closely as a team that could’ve been active at the trade deadline.

Players with potential, like Jordan Poole, Jonathan Kuminga, James Wiseman, and Moses Moody, were all 22 years old or younger.

Meanwhile, the Warriors’ core of Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green were 32 or older.

There were constant talks of how the Warriors might be in the market to trade their youth in exchange for a veteran player or two to give their core stars the best chance of winning another championship.

Instead, the Warriors kept their roster intact and ultimately defeated the Boston Celtics in six games to win the NBA Finals.

The Blazers, to a lesser extent in terms of talent, have a similar dilemma. They are tip-toeing the line of trying to maximize Damian Lillard’s prime while developing their youth, hoping their timelines match up at some point.

While there are similarities between the two rosters, there are also many differences – unfortunately for Portland. If the Blazers decide to keep Lillard and their youth in hopes of matching up the two timelines, they should look at the Warriors’ roster in-depth to find out what they are missing from that championship formula.

Players like Thompson and Green are Hall of Famers that will be extremely hard to replicate in terms of talent, but their style of play can still be mimicked. A player-by-player comparison of the two teams’ rosters shows which archetypes the Blazers already have and which ones they still need to find.

What Portland already has from Golden State’s roster

  • Damian Lillard = Steph Curry
  • Anfernee Simons = Jordan Poole
  • Shaedon Sharpe = Jonathan Kuminga
  • Jerami Grant = Andrew Wiggins

While not perfect comparisons, this provides a better understanding of what the Blazers still need to get to make that jump to a championship-caliber team.

So, what’s missing from the Warriors’ championship formula? Essentially, the Blazers are missing the Warriors’ best defensive players (which explains why Portland is struggling this season) – Green, Thompson, Kevon Looney, and Gary Payton II.

Possibilities to emulate Draymond Green, The Swiss Army Knife:

  • Draymond Green himself (player option)
  • Justice Winslow (re-sign)
  • Jarace Walker (draft)
  • Taylor Hendricks (draft)
  • G.G. Jackson (draft)

Green is a unique player and the catalyst behind the Warriors’ dominance over the past decade. But, unfortunately, that’s also hard to emulate, because he’s so special.

It might be difficult for the Blazers to swing the money to get Green to sign with them, even if he does leave Golden State.

Winslow is someone they could re-sign to play the role of a playmaker/screener. While he likely wouldn’t start, it’s an offensive scheme the Blazers could turn to in the minutes Winslow plays.

Walker isn’t relied on as a playmaker much in college at Houston, but the Blazers could use his defensive versatility to emulate Draymond. Central Florida’s Taylor Hendricks and South Carolina’s G.G. Jackson are potential first-round picks that could also play the role.