Deandre Ayton upbeat Trail Blazers will rebound after ‘Hope Year’

Trail Blazers have a busy summer ahead to address lessons from a forgettable 2023-24 season
Portland Trail Blazers v Charlotte Hornets
Portland Trail Blazers v Charlotte Hornets / David Jensen/GettyImages

The Portland Trail Blazers wrapped up a forgettable 2023-24 season, finishing with the third-worst record in the NBA. The team is in the transition stage, looking to start a new era since the departure of Damian Lillard.

Deandre Ayton, one of the key players in that Lillard trade, admitted that it was a year of learning for the Blazers. He had his share of good games, particularly in the second half of the season.

"Hope Season" is over for the Trail Blazers

Branding it as the hope season, the top pick of the 2018 Draft said that the team should do better when the new season starts. The summer will be an interesting period for Portland as it tries to figure out how to improve on a 21-61 showing.

“Ain’t no hope. That’s the plan…. This was the hope year. Next year, it won’t be any hope. It would just be us knowing where we’re planning on going, where our hard work is going to go and us winning games leading to the playoffs,” DominAyton said during his exit interview.

The former Arizona Wildcat acknowledged that his best showing came in the second half of the season. He revealed that he was forced to deal with several issues, ranging from injuries to life off the basketball court.

“What I showed you guys the second half of the season is just what I’ve been trying to show my whole career,” Ayton explained. "The numbers you see each game, night out, that’s something I’ll be keeping [for] myself as a standard.”

Deandre Ayton had a respectable season

Although he played in only 55 games this season, Ayton managed to maintain his production. He averaged 16.7 points, 11.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.0 steals in 32.4 minutes of action per Basketball-Reference.

The offseason should help Ayton heal from his injuries. It should help him and the Blazers mesh and develop the chemistry the team has been working on.

Looking ahead, he's confident the team has a good bunch of young players who can do better. The fact that the Blazers were competitive despite all their maladies is proof.

“We are truly an exciting team to watch and we’ve been competing with teams shorthanded. Coach (Chauncey) Billups has set the standards on how we must play regardless of who is out there or not,” the 2019 NBA All-Rookie First Team member pointed out.

Areas for improvement

The Blazers need to address several issues if they are to be more competitive next season. That includes improving their rebounding efforts.

Portland ranked 28th in the league in defensive rebounds this season with a 49.8 rating per Being among the bigs on the roster, Ayton did show improvement in controlling the boards. However, he needs the other guys to follow his lead.

Jabari Walker did his part, averaging 7.1 rebounds in 72 games. But after Ayton and Walker, rebounding is an issue that Billups needs to address.


Aside from rebounds, the Blazers' offense needs work and Portland needs to take better care of the ball. It will be a busy offseason for Billups and his players as they try to get back on track for the 2024-25 season.