The Portland Trail Blazers look to be going all-in in the playoffs for 2022-23. Keep in mind that they have had a very strong start to the current season. And though they’ve fallen on hard times, the Blazers are still in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. They currently have a 19-19 win-loss record, which puts them second in the Northwest Division. This also places them ninth in the West. sure, because the Blazers need to fill a void or two if they really want to fight for a title. This is where the trading block comes in. Here, we’ll be looking at the top two trades the Portland Trail Blazers have to make before the 2023 NBA trade deadline.
As of this writing, the Trail Blazers haven’t had the start of 2023. They beat the Detroit Pistons to rock the year. However, they have lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves and Indiana Pacers twice in a row since. Sure, Portland has enough high level to compete with the big guns in the West, but they would also benefit from an injection of depth.
The Blazers have become a real Western Conference playoff contender because of several things. Principal is the acquisition of Jerami Grant. Then there is the return to health of Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic. Finally, we have the emergence of young players like Anfernee Simons and rookie Shaedon Sharpe. Lillard fans, in particular, should be happy. He’s done pretty well this season. Dame Time is currently averaging 27.1 points, 7.2 assists, 2.0 steals and 4.0 triples per game. Most of them are up from his numbers last season. He also shoots 43.2% from the field and 36.4% from outside the arc. He also just became Portland’s all-time leading scorer.
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It is suggested that the Blazers should capitalize on all of these positives by taking strategic action ahead of the trade deadline. One possible move is to potentially trade Sharpe or Justise Winslow for more immediate help. They can also potentially use other young players like Nassir Little and Keon Johnson as assets in team rebuilding deals. As Lillard may only have a few more years left at the elite level, it is suggested that Portland consider going all-in to try and make it as soon as possible.
Now, let’s discuss the two best trades the Trail Blazers have to make before the 2023 NBA trade deadline.
1. Get a rim guard
Keep in mind that after Jusuf Nurkic, the Blazers would benefit greatly from adding a defensive-minded center. They especially need someone who can also come out and act as a ground spacer on offense. Note that at 4.1 blocks per game, the Blazers are currently 24th overall in rim protection.
Isaiah Stewart of the Detroit Pistons is an intriguing possible target. For the time being, Stewart retains the position of starting forward for the Pistons. He was actually their starting center before youngster Jalen Duren replaced him. Now could be the perfect time for the Blazers to find out about Stewart’s availability.
In exchange, the Blazers can get a deal centered around guys like Justise Winslow, Keon Johnson or the aforementioned Sharpe plus a second-round pick. Trading in a few young players and a pick for Stewart might be worth it. Of course, the Blazers could go after Nerlens Noel instead of Stewart if the Pistons decide to be picky about the latter’s release. Although he has much less offensive flexibility, his defense and rebounding can definitely come in handy. In this case, the Blazers also don’t have to shell out as much as they would in a deal with Stewart. The bottom line is that they need a better backup center than Drew Eubanks and a guy who can possibly slip into 4th as well.
2. Upgrade Wings
We think the Blazers could benefit from having more strong wingers defensively and offensively. It’s a common need for many NBA teams, but it’s especially important for the Blazers due to their current roster. While Lillard and Simons are offensive stars, their defense can be a weakness when playing together. And again, Nurkic is a strong offensive player but not a strong shot blocker or defender.
To solve this problem, Portland needs to add players who can defend well and contribute offensively to the wing positions. Jerami Grant meets those criteria, as does Josh Hart, although Hart isn’t the ideal size for the wing position. He’s also not a consistently accurate shooter. Shaedon Sharpe has shown potential, but as a rookie the team will have to be careful in how they perceive his worth. This may leave Winslow or Johnson as the most viable business assets to ship.
One option Portland needs to consider is acquiring Jae Crowder from the Phoenix Suns. It would bring an improvement in defense and physique. Crowder could also see a lot of game time if he shoots well from three points.
Another more ambitious brand is OG Anunoby of the Toronto Raptors. This would require paying astronomical trade fees, but Anunoby could be worth it. He is the long and versatile striker that this club has needed for a long time. His skills, along with those of Jerami Grant, could make the Blazers forward line one of the best in the league.
Now, if Portland doesn’t want to part with too much talent, he may consider checking out Cam Reddish of the New York Knicks. We consider it a “mini-Crowder”. He can also potentially help the Blazers.