The Portland Trail Blazers have a few options at the small forward position. While Nassir Little and Shaedon Sharpe are options to start at the three, Matisse Thybulle stands out as the most probable starter if the season started today. One of the primary reasons is his exceptional defensive prowess.
Thybulle has quickly established himself as one of the NBA’s premier perimeter defenders, punctuated by his two All-Defensive Second Team NBA honors. His ability to read passing lanes, disrupt ball handlers and contest shots makes him invaluable, especially in a league dominated by elite wing players.
Thybulle’s athleticism and basketball IQ allow him to fit into various offensive and defensive schemes seamlessly. While his offensive game might not be as polished as other starting forwards, his hustle, ability to cut to the basket and potential as a spot-up 3-point shooter make him a complementary piece to the Blazers’ core players.
The Blazers could add another small forward via trade if they move superstar Damian Lillard. The need for another small forward on the roster is evident if they don’t. With the current free agent market options, though, the Blazers have some intriguing choices.
Kelly Oubre Jr. is likely the best small forward left on the free agent market, but due to his potential contract demands, it’s unlikely the Blazers add him.
The following are three small forwards who are still free agents that make sense for the Blazers to add to round out the three position.
1) T.J. Warren: A veteran presence with scoring prowess
T.J. Warren would bring a veteran presence and proven scoring ability to the Blazers. Warren’s mid-range game is among the best in the league, and his ability to create his own shot would provide the Blazers with another offensive weapon.
His experience in the league means he understands the game’s nuances, making him a valuable asset in clutch situations. Furthermore, his leadership and maturity would benefit the younger players on the roster, guiding them and helping them navigate the challenges of an NBA season.
Signing Warren would likely make him at least a 50/50 starter with Thybulle. Coach Chauncey Billups could put Thybulle in for his lockdown defense and Warren in for a scoring boost. If Lillard leaves, the Blazers will have a void of veteran leadership that Warren could help fill.