3 Stunning roster decisions have kept Blazers from becoming historically bad Pistons

Some controversial preseason choices have kept Portland from approaching Detroit Pistons territory this season.
Jerami Grant (L), Malcolm Brogdon; Portland Trail Blazers
Jerami Grant (L), Malcolm Brogdon; Portland Trail Blazers / Mark Blinch/GettyImages
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3. Bringing Scoot Henderson off the bench

This could be part 2.5 because, without Brogdon on the roster, it wouldn't be possible. Billups has been able to pick and choose the best spots for Henderson to succeed specifically because he has Brogdon as another option.

After struggling through his first handful of games and then an ankle injury that followed, Scoot has been the leader of the Blazers bench unit. He's still learning how to be an NBA floor general, but he's doing it against other reserves and without the level of pressure that would come along with fighting for Rookie of the Year positioning and the inevitable comparisons to Victor Wembanyama.

When the rest of Portland's guards aren't injured, which has been a rarity this year, Henderson can also play alongside Brogdon or Anfernee Simons, who's in his sixth NBA season. He can play with Grant on the floor, or a 26-year-old Matisse Thybulle.

On the flip side, take Thompson, for example, who was drafted two spots behind Henderson in last June's draft. He's had Bogdanovic to play off of for 12 games this season and the 32-year-old Alec Burks, who's playing 18 minutes per night.

Otherwise, he's surrounded by Cunningham (22 years old), Ivey (20), Isaiah Stewart (22), Jalen Duren (20), Hayes (22) or the ancient-by-Pistons-standards Marvin Bagley (24).

There's been no buffer in Detroit to allow the franchise's young core to develop at a pace that suits them. They've been tossed into the lake and told to sink or swim without any real guidance. That's a good way to end up with a bunch of young players who haven't learned or, in some cases, even had the chance to learn the NBA game.


It's also a good way to lose 28 times in a row. And despite the debates surrounding Cronin's roster building, keeping players like Grant and Brogdon around to give Sharpe - and especially Henderson - the freedom to make mistakes without having to worry about losing a 29th consecutive game was the smart choice.