Trail Blazers: Starting 5, rotation after Damian Lillard, Jrue Holiday trades

Anfernee Simons, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Anfernee Simons, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /
2 of 3
Scoot Henderson will be the Portland Trail Blazers starting point guard this season.
Scoot Henderson, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /

Portland Trail Blazers starters to begin the 2023-24 season

Point guard: Scoot Henderson

Scoot Henderson starting at point guard on opening night against the LA Clippers is as close to a sure thing as you’ll get with the Blazers this year. Henderson is now the face of the franchise. His coaches and teammates had nothing but praise on media day for his leadership and playmaking ability.

Shooting guard: Anfernee Simons

This spot could also go to Brogdon or even Shaedon Sharpe, but Simons has earned the right to continue as a starter and become Portland’s offensive fulcrum. He was the Blazers’ second-leading scorer during a breakout 2022-23 season and was second on the team in usage rate behind Lillard. It’s time for Simons to show how talented of a scorer he is and get the recognition he deserves around the NBA. Don’t be surprised if the 24-year-old makes a push at an all-star berth this year.

Small forward: Matisse Thybulle

Again, another spot that could be handed to Brogdon or Sharpe, but like Simons, Thybulle earned his place in the starting lineup after the way he played following his arrival from the Philadelphia 76ers at last year’s trade deadline. Billups may lean into a more veteran-laden starting five as well, which gives Thybulle the nod over Sharpe. The 26-year-old is one of the league’s best perimeter defenders and shot almost 39 percent from three in Portland after getting the green light to let fly by his head coach.

Power forward: Jerami Grant

There’s a reason the Blazers re-signed Grant to a five-year, $160 million contract this offseason. He proved to be a legitimate third option on offense last year while providing a level of switchable, versatile defense. He could be in for a larger role this year as an experienced vet on a young team.

Center: Deandre Ayton

Billups said on media day (subscription required) that Ayton won’t get Joel Embiid-level touches, but the 25-year-old will be featured offensively as part of Portland’s young core moving forward, and he certainly has the talent for it. The 6-foot-11, 250-pound big man can score on the block, shoot from mid-range and will be an excellent rim-runner and lob-catcher with Henderson, Simons and Brogdon in the pick-and-roll.