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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Trendon Watford, Portland Trail Blazers
Trendon Watford, Portland Trail Blazers – Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports /

Skylar Mays: B-

Of all of the players who’ve gotten more of an opportunity without the stars in the lineup, Skylar Mays is easily the most surprising. He was picked up from the G League a few weeks ago, and in that time, Mays has taken his opportunity by the reigns and made the most of his minutes in the NBA.

Mays is averaging 17 points and 7 assists at point guard for the Blazers, riding a major hot streak to some stunning performances against Memphis and Sacramento. He’s shown the type of quickness, shot-making, and overall offensive talent to stick around in the league, whether with Portland or elsewhere.

Despite Mays’ talent level and production, it may be hard for him to make a dent in the rotation for the Blazers next year. They already have Lillard and Simons at guard, leaving only some mop-up minutes for Mays which, after his recent streak, may be below his level of production for the roles that he could play in the NBA.

Trendon Watford: A-

For most of the Lillard era in Portland, the role of bench forward has been one of the least fruitful for the team to draft. Whether Greg Brown III, Reggie Perry, Derrick Jones Jr., Skal Labissiere, or many others, the team has been unable to draft or acquire a young forward that it can develop off of the bench.

Until recently, Trendon Watford existed in that same space. He had a lot of upside as a point forward with good physical tools, but he could never put it all together.

In Grant’s absence, though, Watford has stormed into a new role by averaging double digits on good shooting efficiency.

Watford will need to expand his range further out to the 3-point line and continue to shoot well from the field to capitalize on this momentum, but compared to how he looked a few months ago, Watford has taken full advantage of his extra minutes to establish himself as what should be a lock for some kind of role off the Blazers’ bench next year.