Grading the play of the Trail Blazers who were handed bigger roles in 2023

Shaedon Sharpe, Portland Trail Blazers - Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Shaedon Sharpe, Portland Trail Blazers - Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports /
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Nassir Little, Portland Trail Blazers
Nassir Little, Portland Trail Blazers – Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports /

Nassir Little: C+

Injuries have plagued Little his entire time in the NBA, but now that he has gotten a longer shake of health, he’s been able to crack the late-season rotation for Portland.

Little has flashed just enough pizazz and potential to make devout followers of the team wonder what he could do with a larger role.

In the time without Lillard, Little has shown little improvement from where he was the last time he got some extended run. He still is inefficient, has to work on his shooting from deep, and relies mostly on athleticism to make plays.

That’s not an insult as he’s a sturdy player who can bump others off their spots and have some impact winning.

For Little to take the leap, this has to be the last time he is an overall negative on offense. If he can’t start to create for himself or others in any area of the floor, Little will soon find his minutes taken away not just due to injury, but because other players are looking better in that same time.

Kevin Knox II: C+

As the least heralded wing that the Blazers acquired at the deadline, Kevin Knox II didn’t have a lot of pressure on his shoulders to be good right away. He’d flamed out with every team he’d been on in the NBA, which meant Portland was likely his last stop before exiting the league.

Although he still isn’t a positive shooter or efficient scorer, Knox II has taken on volume scoring roles to solid effect with the team. With so many other good players hurt, someone needs to take shots, and though they’d have more wins if he was more efficient, Knox II’s willingness to try to expand his role is admirable.

Of course, if the Blazers want to be good in any way, shape, or form next year, the only way that Knox II will factor in is if he can be even a league-average shooter. If not, this will be the last stop on a disappointing career arc for the former lottery pick.