7 Players Blazers should keep long-term after trading Damian Lillard

Anfernee Simons (left), Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
Anfernee Simons (left), Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Portland Trail Blazers find themselves in a difficult position after receiving a trade request from their franchise superstar, Damian Lillard. While the departure of a player of Lillard’s caliber would undoubtedly leave a significant void, the Blazers now have an opportunity to rebuild their roster and shape their future.

There’s a list of promising players that the Blazers should consider keeping on that roster for the long term. From the young and rising talents like Shaedon Sharpe and Anfernee Simons to the newcomers like Scott Henderson and Kris Murray, there is a wealth of potential waiting to be nurtured within the organization.

Let’s explore why these players should be prioritized in Portland’s plans beyond the era of Damian Lillard.

A budding star: Anfernee Simons

Anfernee Simons had an impressive season with the Trail Blazers in 2022-23, his first as a day-one starter. He played a significant role in the team’s performance throughout the season, often being the second or third-best player on the roster.

Simons’ strengths lie in his offensive game. He is an immensely talented player with the creativity and confidence of a much more experienced player. In 62 games last season, Simons scored a career-high 21.1 points per game while shooting a career-high 44.7 percent from the field and an efficient 37.7 percent from three while taking nearly three more field goal and 3-point attempts per game than the season prior.

Simons has also shown himself to be a bursty scorer, with three 20-point quarters in 2022-23. The six other players able to put together three or more 20-point quarters in ’22-23 were Lillard, Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, Ja Morant, Joel Embiid, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. That’s impressive company to keep.

At 24 years old, Simons can and will get better. He’s spent the first five years of his career learning directly from Lillard and should be able to become an All-Star-caliber offensive weapon.

Simons can be the primary facilitator of the next Trail Blazers playoff team and should absolutely factor into the team’s future plans.