Has Trendon Watford done enough to start for the Trail Blazers next year?

Trendon Watford, Portland Trail Blazers - Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Trendon Watford, Portland Trail Blazers - Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports /
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Trendon Watford, Portland Trail Blazers
Trendon Watford, Portland Trail Blazers – Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports /

What Watford could still improve on

Watford still has a few things that are holding back his game, however. There’s a reason Billups didn’t experiment with him in longer spurts until his hand was forced by the injury issues and playoff woes.

For one, Watford is still an iffy defender. While that label can be applied to most of Portland’s players, he stands to get better at moving his feet on switches, adjusting to different coverages, and using his body on defense with the same force that he uses it on offense.

While it would be unfair to expect Watford to evolve into a shot-blocker or master thief, some more production in counting stats or advanced numbers would be a marker that he’d committed to that end of the floor as much as he has on offense.

That hasn’t happened yet, and until it does, he will have a limited ceiling in terms of what he can bring to the Blazers.

Another way Watford could play his way onto the floor in the future is to lean into his role as a spot-up shooter. As long as either Lillard or Anfernee Simons play in Portland, the forwards and wings for the team will need to be capable shooters from the perimeter to properly space the floor for the offense.

Watford shot 36 percent from three during his extended starting run, but those numbers are a bit deceiving. He only shot one three per game on the season and less than two a game during his stretch run – miniscule numbers that represent both statistical variance and a lack of confidence in his shot from deep.

If Watford wants to play major minutes off of the bench for the Blazers, he’ll need to stay in the gym this summer and work on his shot. It needs to be a higher volume weapon and remain accurate, a difficult tightrope to walk; but it’s not unheard of in today’s NBA.

That swing skill will be what determines the course of Watford’s career and place on the team.