The Trail Blazers biggest setback from last season was their lack of depth on the bench. It wasn’t until the tail end of the season when they finally acquired a true sixth man in Eric Maynor, but that was still too little too late. Despite the stellar play from Rookie of the Year Damien Lillard, the All-Star performance of LaMarcus Aldridge, and the defensive hustle from Wesley Matthews and J.J. Hickson, Portland had to again watch from home as the playoffs began and ended. That could all be very different this year.
GM Neil Olshey has been a very busy man this offseason, assembling a brand new bench that on paper looks much more formidable than the one we all saw last season. It all started with another good looking draft. CJ McCollum is favored by many critics to be the next Rookie of the Year. He should thrive in the fast paced, run-and-gun style of offense coach Terry Stotts has had the team running, and because he is a swing guard, he will be able to relieve Damian Lillard as well as playing off the ball along side him.
The release of J.J. Hickson had many fans feeling low, but the addition of Robin Lopez will fill the void the Blazers needed for a true big man to clog up the paint. He is not needed to score a lot of points, Aldridge has that covered. Robin Lopez will be utilized defensively and on the glass. In reality, he is an absolute perfect fit for what the Blazers needed on their roster.
The biggest news this offseason so far is probably the acquisition of PG Mo Williams, who was an All-Star while playing in Cleveland, and is very well known throughout the league for his leadership and scoring ability, especially from beyond the arc. This may have been Olshey’s greatest move of the summer, as Mo Williams was offered starting roles with other teams. It says a lot of his trust in the Trail Blazers to turn down starting offers for a 6th man position.
Naturally, only time will determine how well these roster changes will actually work out.