Fantasy Review For 2017/18 Season:

A mixed bag. Some players had a down year [most notably CJ McCollum and Maurice Harkless] but few others shined to compensate for them [Nurkic and Lillard had a career-best seasons, Aminu bounced back]. On a team level it was the same thing, on one hand they finished as 3rd seed in tough West but on the other hand they got sweeped in the first round of the playoffs so it really depends on whenever you judge last year in a half-empty or hall-full kind of way.

Changes in the offseason

Lost = Ed Davis, Shabazz Napier, Pat Connaughton, Gary Trent Jr.
Added = Seth Curry, Nik Stauskas, Anfernee Simons

Projected Depth Chart:

PG SG SF PF C
Damian Lillard CJ McCollum Maurice Harkless Al-Farouq Aminu Jusuf Nurkic
Seth Curry Nik Stauskas Evan Turner Caleb Swanigan Zach Collins
Wade Baldwin Gary Trent Jr. Jake Layman Maurice Harkless Meyers Leonard

Positional Battles: SF?

With few changes in the roster [and all of them among reserves] we should expect a familiar starting five but there’s one catch. Maurice Harkless doesn’t seem to be healthy yet despite the fact he had surgery 7 months ago so it opens up a possibility someone else will start next to Aminu. Based on decisions in the past Evan Turner looks like an obvious choice but he’s just not an asset in 9-cat so it’s better to hope Harkless will recover soon.

Fantasy Relevant in leagues with 12- to 15-teams:

Damian Lillard

43,3 FG%, 90,5 FT%, 3,16 3PM, 26,23 PTS, 4,34 REB, 6,5 AST, 1,02 STL, 0,3 BL, 2,8 TO

Last season he had career-high FT% and threes made but it also helped his steals and blocks were better than usual so overall he put together his best stat-line in 9-cat value. But Blazers added more depth at guard and outside of more threes he probably hit his ceiling in most categories so I don’t think he can repeat all those numbers this year. Also worth noting his iron-man status from early in his career has slowly been eroding, he missed 7-9 games three years in a row.

CJ McCollum

44,7 FG%, 85,8 FT%, 2,46 3PM, 21,23 PTS, 3,79 REB, 3,2 AST, 0,91 STL, 0,44 BL, 1,82 TO

Despite being in prime age for basketball he had a down year including career-low 3P% from the corners, small decline in assists and massive one in FT% and FG%. Some of those numbers were probably inflated to begin with but I assume he will land somewhere between them this time. McCollum is also a nice example why it’s useful to be scepitcal about sudden jumps in percentages, he couldn’t repeat any of them so you would be very disappointed assuming it was his new normal. Finally I wonder, will Blazers split CJ and Damian within a year? Because that would be very interesting for both of their values.

Jusuf Nurkic

49 FG%, 61,2 FT%, 0 3PM, 14,2 PTS, 9,07 REB, 1,89 AST, 0,87 STL, 1,48 BL, 2,46 TO

He got a chance to start full-time and he delivered his career-best year so he got rewarded with the new contract for it. But he won’t play significantly more minutes this year so there’s less room for improvement this time. Especially when Zach Collins lurks behind him. Key question about Nurkic’s value in 9-cat is “can he make free-throws or not?”. At 63-65% he’s acceptable third big to way more teams than at 57% [which he made in 2016/17] so that’s something to monitor early in the season.

Al-Farouq Aminu

39,2 FG%, 72,9 FT%, 1,66 3PM, 9,01 PTS, 7,51 REB, 1,45 AST, 1,16 STL, 0,62 BL, 1,2 TO

He’s a classic glue guy in the NBA and it’s kind of amazing how badly Blazers need him but in fantasy his poor offensive numbers make him a specialist for defensive categories near the end of typical draft. But it’s notable how he went from total non-shooter to decent three-point shooter – recently he had two seasons above 36% – so there’s a chance he can take a next step forward, especially when he will fight for new contract this year.

Moe Harkless

48,7 FG%, 63,5 FT%, 0,91 3PM, 8,73 PTS, 3,59 REB, 1,11 AST, 0,99 STL, 0,85 BL, 0,85 TO

He seemed like a lock for a bounce back season but recent reports he may not be 100% ready are a bummer. My assumption was “he will have numbers close to 2016/17 and Blazers would be better for it” but now I’m not so sure. Health is the most unpredictable variable and we have the least amount of access to crucial information about it so I think it’s safe to assume there’s way more risk involved here than I’ve anticipated.

Could be useful with trades/injuries [or in deeper leagues than 15 teams]:
Seth Curry, Zach Collins

Just don’t bother with:
Nik Stauskas, Evan Turner, Meyers Leonard

Don’t forget to check the rest of the Portland Trail Blazers fantasy basketball projections..

Posted in Teams preview