After an exciting rally in the spirit of making the playoffs, the Portland Trail Blazers fell short, shut down Damian Lillard, and now find themselves playing games inconsequential to the playoff race.
Even though they aren’t in the running to make the postseason anymore, a number of Blazers are playing meaningful minutes with an eye on making an impact for the team next year.
Lillard, Anfernee Simons, Jerami Grant, and Jusuf Nurkic are done for the season, leaving the door open for a number of less-heralded players to see major minutes and fill roles for Portland. Some have been better than others, with a few even flashing some serious star upside that could spell positivity for the team next year.
With these last games coming to a close, it’s worth taking the time to grade the young Trail Blazers prospects who have gotten more run at the end of the season. For each, fit, experience, and role will be taken into account for their grades to give each player a fair shake in this evaluation.
John Butler Jr.: D
In his rookie year out of Florida State, Butler Jr. has barely gotten a chance to crack the rotation. He’s spent most of his season in the G League, not really blowing the doors off with his statistics and mostly working to get his body back into shape.
As a prospect, Butler Jr.’s appeal came from his insane length, size, and shooting touch. So far in his professional career, he’s shown that none of these marketable skills are up to the level necessary to have an impact in the NBA.
Although it’s a low grade, the jury is still far from out on Butler Jr. With another season to improve his physical profile and get used to the NBA, Butler Jr. could one day play a role as a key bench big for the Blazers.