Beyond the Toronto Raptors: Previewing a strong Northwest division

Toronto Raptors - Norman Powell (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Norman Powell (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Serge Ibaka (Photo by Anatoliy Cherkasov/NurPhoto via Getty Images) /

Portland Trail Blazers

Key additions: Kent Bazemore, Hassan Whiteside

Key departures: Enes Kanter, Al-Farouq Aminu

After a lot of speculation, the Portland Trail Blazers stuck to their guns and kept Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum to lead the team once more. While the Blazers aren’t title-worthy at this moment, they still remain one of the most fun teams to watch in the NBA. Hopefully, Jusuf Nurkic can fully recover and look as good as he did down the stretch last season, but Hassan Whiteside will look to recoup some form in the meantime.

The losses of Kanter, Aminu, and Moe Harkless hurt, but the Blazers brought in the likes of Bazemore, Skal Labissiere, and Nassir Little. This team will still cause problems.

Offensive outlook

As long as Lillard is leading the offense, this team will survive. He and McCollum have shown they can score from all three levels, and the addition of Bazemore, along with Rodney Hood off the bench, means this team will continue to score and run one of the most efficient offenses in the NBA.

Defensive outlook

This is where the loss of Aminu and Harkless will be felt the most, both were competent wing defenders that allowed McCollum and Lillard to operate freely. Whiteside has proved to be one of the best shot-blockers in the game when on form, but long stretches of inconsistency plagued him during his time with the Miami Heat.

Overall projection: 47-35

There’s nothing stopping the Trail Blazers winning the division, but it’s all about not running Lillard and McCollum into the ground. The West is packed full of talent this season, the Blazers remain in contention, but a lot of teams around them have improved, it’s anyone’s guess.