12. Wesley Matthews avoids injury in 2015?
The Blazers had the look of a serious title contender in 2015. They had just reached the second round of the playoffs and raced out to a 41-19 start through 60 games. On March 5, Matthews suffered a torn Achilles against the Mavericks, which ended his season. Portland went 10-12 down the stretch after his injury and was bounced by the Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs.
Matthews was a key defender and floor spacer for the Blazers. He was averaging 15.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.3 steals in 33.7 minutes per game before the injury. The 6’4 wing was the team’s third-leading scorer. It created more playing time for CJ McCollum and allowed him to breakout, but Portland lost a lot on the defensive end going from Matthews to the 23-year-old.
The title race felt wide open in 2015. It would be the Warriors’ first championship in a dynasty run, but the Dubs were unproven at that point. Portland had Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum to matchup against Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson with Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge giving the Blazers a dynamic offensive duo.
How far would the Portland Trail Blazers have advanced with a healthy Wesley Matthews in 2015? It is impossible to know, but it is worth considering given the landscape of the league at that moment.