3 Things that need to happen for the Trail Blazers to make the playoffs next season

So you're telling me there's a chance.
(l to r): Anfernee Simons, Ish Wainright, Deandre Ayton, Portland Trail Blazers
(l to r): Anfernee Simons, Ish Wainright, Deandre Ayton, Portland Trail Blazers / Meg Oliphant/GettyImages

They only won 21 games this season, but are the Portland Trail Blazers really that far away from making a playoff push in 2024-25?

Admittedly, the idea seems a little wild. They lost by more than 60 points on multiple occasions. They became the second franchise in NBA history to start five rookies and the first to do it more than once. And with what's believed to be a strong 2025 draft class, why would Portland choose to miss out on the opportunity to grab another potential star with a high lottery pick?

All valid questions. But to go back to the beginning - with some growth and some luck, could the Blazers be ready to at least make a run at a play-in spot next year?

The Trail Blazers could make the 2024-25 NBA postseason if...

They stay healthy

Portland could be looking at a draft pick closer to No. 10 than No. 1 if it had better injury luck this season.

With such a young roster - and the desire to feature the young players on the young roster - the Blazers wouldn't have been good enough to land in the top 10 of a loaded Western Conference this year. But take a quick look at the number of crucial players who dealt with injuries and the number of games those players missed:

  • Scoot Henderson: 20
  • Anfernee Simons: 36
  • Shaedon Sharpe: 50
  • Jerami Grant: 28
  • Deandre Ayton: 27
  • Malcolm Brogdon: 43
  • Robert Williams III: 76

Some of those missed games came in the second half of the season when the Blazers were trying to tank - but not all of them.

Is a healthy season from those players and the continuity that would come with it worth 10 more wins? What if the five-man group of Scoot, Simons, Sharpe, Grant and Ayton had 50 games to learn and develop together?

That wouldn't have gotten Portland close enough to the Golden State Warriors and the final play-in spot, but being healthy would be a good start to getting there next season.

They get internal improvement

The Trail Blazers aren't making any major offseason additions. If they make waves during the summer it will be because they traded away a key player or two (which would render this argument moot), not because they traded for one. So getting better players on the roster will mean the players on the roster getting better.

There were glimpses of significant progression at the end of the season from players like Jabari Walker, Toumani Camara (before he got hurt) and Scoot. Kris Murray seemed to settle into a more comfortable role, Rayan Rupert showed some flashes and, of course, there was the Dalano Banton experience.

If those players come back next year having taken another step - specifically Walker and Camara, who were starting to become legitimate threats from three - the Blazers will be a deeper and more talented team without making any major moves.

Scoot Henderson and Shaedon Sharpe make leaps

Maybe this is part 2b rather than part 3, but if Henderson and Sharpe come into training camp next season and show they're a step above where they were this year - or perhaps 2022-23 in Shaedon's case - the floor and ceiling of this Blazers team jump more than a few levels.

Sharpe started to make "the leap" at the end of his rookie season and it carried into his sophomore campaign. He averaged 19.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.0 steals while shooting 37 percent from three on more than six attempts per game through the first 21 games. He got to the free-throw line 4.5 times a night and shot better than 82 percent there.

Then he got hurt and his season eventually ended after surgery.

Scoot didn't take quite the bump Sharpe did at the end of 2021-22, but over his last 15 games, Henderson averaged 18.3 points and 7.5 assists. He added 1.4 steals per game and shot 42 percent from the floor and 39 percent from three.


Suppose both players near the 20-ppg mark next season with improved efficiency and the generally higher basketball IQ that comes with more experience. Add that to healthier seasons from Simons, Grant and Ayton; toss in better versions of Camara, Walker and another young role player or two; and the path to a 40(ish)-win team begins to reveal itself.