2. The Trail Blazers do not have a win-now roster
Outside of Henderson, the Blazers’ other rostered players showed some flashes of potential, but none exhibited the level of polish one would hope to see from players ready to contribute to winning immediately.
Sharpe, the Blazers’ other prized prospect on display at Summer League, took on the role of primary creator in which he shined during Portland’s tank last season. At times, Sharpe’s improved pace, court awareness and on–ball creativity from the end of last season carried over to summer league play.
Sharpe displayed his versatility as a 3-point shooter, one avenue that would allow him to separate himself from other uber-athletic guards. As the games progressed, Sharpe attacked the rim more aggressively, using his vertical to finish above and around bigs. In transition, Sharpe produced his usual share of jaw-dropping highlights, including this dunk over Jay Huff.
However, Sharpe’s overall play did not indicate his readiness to take the reins of a playoff-hopeful team. His loose handle still hindered his ability to create, forcing him into contested jumpers and turnovers.
If Lillard’s trade request stemmed from a belief that the current roster is too reliant on players who still need time to develop, then Sharpe’s summer league performance confirmed that assessment.
The performances of Portland’s other rostered players further affirmed that banking on surprise contributions from a stable of youngsters is not a realistic path to keeping Lillard.
Kris Murray, the Blazers’ other first-round pick in the 2023 draft, showed some promise with his quick-trigger release and slashing ability, but his mediocre 3-point percentage from college carried over to summer league—a sign that he’s a ways off from becoming a threat from the perimeter.
Rayan Rupert, Portland’s lone second-round pick who was advertised as a defensive disruptor with some untapped offensive potential, struggled on both ends against strength. He’ll need time to fill out his frame before becoming a regular contributor.
John Butler Jr.’s shooting remains an intriguing skill, but his underdeveloped strength is still an obstacle to him finding a consistent role. Ibou Badji, the Blazers’ other young big with a tantalizing physical profile, needs time to develop his mobility and feel for the game.
Jabari Walker looked the most mature of the group, demonstrating a capable 3-point stroke with some credible playmaking and rebounding skill. Considering how thin Portland is at the forward spots, it’s likely Walker has a decent shot to make the rotation his sophomore year, but a surprising jump from Walker won’t be enough to turn around the Blazers’ fortunes next season.