The Portland Trail Blazers have shown this offseason that they are committed to rebuilding their roster to return to the playoffs. The likely trade of superstar Damian Lillard will leave the team with a roster that would need nothing short of a miracle to return to the playoffs immediately.
Although the front office has been vocally committed to building a team that can return to the postseason sooner rather than later, the roster is chock full of young talent that will need developing before this team is a threat in the loaded Western Conference.
The Blazers currently have 11 players under contract who are younger than 25 years old. While development is vital to a bright future, it’s not feasible to develop such a large pool of talent simultaneously, even with Portland’s new G League Rip City Remix team to stash players on.
With so much youth, the Blazers must select a few players worth their time and effort to develop. While this means letting some untapped potential go, this is a necessary step toward creating a few future stars who could help bring the Blazers back to the playoffs in a few years.
Beyond the prominent young players who have superstar potential in Anfernee Simons and Shaedon Sharpe, plus rookies Scoot Henderson, Kris Murray and Rayan Rupert, there are three youngsters on the roster who the Blazers would benefit from focusing their development efforts on.
Unfortunately, the hard truth is that developing these eight players would likely need to come at the expense of two peripheral players who don’t possess the same potential.
Blazers young player to continue developing: Nassir Little
Despite a challenging 2022-23 season in which he averaged 6.6 points and 2.6 rebounds in 18.1 minutes per game, Little has shown flashes of brilliance that cannot be ignored.
His shooting percentage from the field and beyond the arc improved, demonstrating his offensive potential. Although his defensive rating took a hit, that could be attributed to his recovery from offseason core muscle surgery and shoulder surgery that ended his previous season prematurely.
Little’s strength lies in his versatility. He is a strong bench player who can step up as a starter when needed. His athleticism and high-energy play style can significantly impact the game, providing the Blazers with much-needed depth.
His inconsistency has been a concern, but this may be remedied with more development. After all, Little is still just 23 years old with four years of NBA experience.
Little’s team-friendly contract and potential makes him an attractive asset in a rebuild scenario. His manageable deal could also be used to match salaries in a trade, but the Blazers should consider the potential they would be giving up.
Little’s development could be a boon for the team moving forward, especially if he can become more consistent.