5 Trail Blazers who increased their trade value this season

These Blazers improved their value during the 2023-24 season.
Portland Trail Blazers, Deandre Ayton
Portland Trail Blazers, Deandre Ayton / Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
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2. Deandre Ayton

It is easy to forget Ayton was the number one overall pick in 2018 ahead of Luka Doncic, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jaren Jackson Jr., Trae Young, and Jalen Brunson. Those five players have been All-Stars, while Ayton is still searching for his breakout moment. He helped the Suns get to the NBA Finals in 2021 but has been unable to recreate that strong play on both ends of the floor.

The Blazers acquired the seven-footer as part of the Damian Lillard deal. Jrue Holiday and the draft capital stole the headlines, but upgrading from Jusuf Nurkic to Ayton was an important part of the deal for general manager Joe Cronin. His start in Rip City was lackluster, but the 25-year-old has turned it around down the stretch.

Since Jan. 24, Ayton is averaging 21.2 points, 12.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.9 steals, and 0.9 blocks in 34.1 minutes per game. He is shooting over 60 percent from the field and 87.5 percent on his free throws over that 26-game sample. His recent play certainly improved his trade value and has scouts across the league taking notice, despite Portland’s struggles.

Deandre Ayton won’t be the best player in his draft class. Luka Doncic and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander are annual MVP candidates, but the number one pick can be a dominant big man on a contending team. He is displaying that potential and hopes to keep building on it.