Ever since a couple years ago when I was the only sports prognosticator in the country to pick the Trail Blazers number of wins, I have had some performance anxiety about trying to match that year of accuracy.
Unlike the year of my singular success when the numbers lined up so obviously, the numerical scheme for the Blazers this year is much more obscure. What I see suggests results that are not so much different from the many pros and pundits that make their guess each year.
I am going on record (remember, this is mid-August) as saying the Blazers will once again exceed the pros, pundits and Vegas and ESPN numbers (39-43 wins) in the coming 2018-19 season. And, they still could be out of the playoffs.
The NBA long ago lost its identity as being a game, and the thought of being a sport has been tarnished. For a long time in the NBA the business of basketball has ruled. This coming season is the worst ever. The league has gone wild with inordinate egos, self-serving power plays (was there ever any real loyalty?), super media hype and big billionaire businessmen buying the championship trophy with super teams. Not to mention the new fraternization with global gambling syndicates. Expect fan interest to decline measurable in the next few seasons as small market fans realize their teams are playing with near zero chance at a title (unless, of course, their billionaire owner can buy it). But, back to the Blazers.
Considering the self-inflicted financial and contractual restraints that Neil Olshey put himself and the team into, he will prove to have chosen well in the draft and trade for Gary Trent Jr. This season will decidedly determine his fate with Portland.
If Terry Stotts can get over his morbid fear of playing rookies (Dame the exception), and turn the young guys loose, the Blazers will have the best collection of five guards in the league by the end of the year. Let them get experience now, and then there will be more talent ready for the playoffs. Let the rooks develop and don’t be surprised to see 4 guards on the floor during games this season. I implored the same of him last year, and when he did play the rooks and young they won.
When his sphincter muscle got tight and he reverted to playing the regulars they struggled. It was as if they were playing more not to lose, than to win. Does anyone remember the 2018 Blazers playoffs?
The Blazers have a track record of releasing guards who play well somewhere else; i/e. Jamal Crawford, Patty Mills, Will Barton and probably Pat Connaughton. This does not imply forsaking Dame and CJ. In fact, the numbers suggest that this will be a stellar year for CJ, and by the end of the season his statistics will most likely surpass Dame’s.
Seth Curry’s numbers align to suggest a good fit and a significant role for the Blazers by the end of the season. Nurkic plays authoritatively early in the season and fades some as it goes along. Zach Collins is up and down for a while and settles into a more steady role later in the season.
Without injury and some massively disturbing factor, I say the Blazers go somewhere around 47-49 wins with the high side being 52 wins as they did last year. With a loaded conference they just may not get enough wins to make the playoffs.