How Victor Wembanyama would transform future of the Blazers franchise

Victor Wembanyama, Metropolitans 92, Credit: Christian Liewig - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images
Victor Wembanyama, Metropolitans 92, Credit: Christian Liewig - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images /
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Trendon Watford and Shaedon Sharpe, Portland Trail Blazers
Trendon Watford and Shaedon Sharpe, Portland Trail Blazers, Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports /

Blazers’ long-term roster outlook with Webanyama

If the Blazers land Webanyama, one player on the roster who will be the eventual odd man out is Nurkic.

As mentioned, Webanyama’s best position is center after he puts on the weight and strength. He would provide the Blazers with much-needed versatility and rim protection at the center position over Nurkic.

The Blazers could roll out a starting lineup of their five most talented players, regardless of positional fit:

PG: Damian Lillard
SG: Anfernee Simons
SF: Shaedon Sharpe
PF: Jerami Grant
C: Victor Webanyama

However, even with Webanyama as the anchor in the middle, this lineup seems too tiny and lackluster defensively.

Shaedon Sharpe is expected to jump to a potential All-Star in the next few years and will likely need to be implemented into the starting lineup, one way or another.

If this starting lineup needs to be better defensively, the odd man out might be Anfernee Simons.

Simons would be great in a Jordan Poole-type role off the bench as a crafty sixth man that is an excellent scorer. In addition, Damian Lillard is now 32, so Simons could step up as his eventual replacement as the team’s starting point guard.

Given their similarities, the transition should be seamless regarding play styles.

Portland’s future starting lineup projection

Also mentioned in the first article is that Grant is better suited as a small forward due to his lack of rebounding.

So, a more well-balanced starting lineup may be:

PG: Damian Lillard/Anfernee Simons
SG: Shaedon Sharpe
SF: Jerami Grant
PF: ?
C: Victor Webanyama

The only thing that needs to be added to the equation is a versatile power forward. The Blazers have a couple of options to address that need, whether through the draft, free agency, or trade.

They would finally have solid depth with the development of younger players such as Sharpe, Simons, Cam Reddish, Thybulle, and Trendon Watford. Assuming Portland can retain them, this would be an intriguing group with a little of everything – shooting, playmaking, shot creation, rebounding, length, rim protection, and versatility.

In addition to their depth and two-way balance, Portland would finally have the potential star power to contend for a title. Damian Lillard made this year’s All-NBA Third Team. Webanyama is a future All-Star and even an MVP-caliber player.

Sharpe and Simons are both borderline future All-Stars. Grant, if Portland keeps him, is also a 20-point-per-game scorer that was good enough to make Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics.

Portland’s guards – Lillard, Sharpe, and Simons – are all locked into contracts until the 2025-26 season (accounting for Sharpe on his two-year team option). The Blazers would have a legitimate chance at competing for a title for three seasons with their current core plus Webanyama.

That’s enough time for Webanyama to develop into a superstar in the league.

The financial situation would get murky after that, which happens to all great teams – look at the Golden State Warriors.

Speaking of which, Stephen Curry had a 50-point game in the playoffs at age 35. Given Lillard’s career-best season at age 32, it’s likely that he’ll be able to be productive for five or so more seasons.

The long-term trio would likely be Webanyama, Sharpe, and Simons. But don’t dismiss Lillard’s role when discussing the future of the Blazers.

Lillard has a $63 million player option for the 2026-27 season. Would he be willing to renegotiate that, given that the contracts of Simons and Sharpe will expire at that point? It seems much more likely if Webanyama is on the roster and the team is competing for championships.