In today’s NBA world it’s all about the glitz, the fast fix, and the super teams but what happens when an unproven roster grows up right in front of your eyes then turn around and does the unthinkable? The Portland Trail Blazers played free agency like a vet. There was no need to be at Kevin Durant’s house on July 1st, no need to try to entice Paul Gasol or Joakim Noah, the Blazers have their lineup, most are homegrown, hand-picked, no need to add extra baggage. All that was needed was a tweak here and there, and the end results are great.
The Blazers have a top level PG in Damian Lillard, a great SG in C.J. McCollum, a versatile SF in Al-Farouq Aminu and a frontcourt that can play with anyone that features Ed Davis, Meyers Leonard, Moe Harkless, Mason Plumlee and Festus Ezeli. I could see the Blazers possibly going after a bruiser like Bismack Biyombo, but the front office has seen enough and trusts their current players.
The Blazers took care of home first, resigning Allen Crabbe, Leonard, and Harkless then went out and picked up necessary utility pieces in Evan Turner and Ezeli. While neither of those five players screams franchise or All-Star, the Blazers are trying to put together a championship team, not a super team. With money being throw rounded for big names, the Blazers decided to bunt instead of swinging for the fences.
Turner has been called a bust since entering the league, but all he had done has been a steady contributor throughout his time with the 76ers, Celtics and Pacers. Ezeli comes from a winning pedigree and can offer leadership when situations get tight in the playoffs. Harkless, Leonard, and Crabbe will continue to provide depth, scoring, rebounding, and defense.
While many will look at the Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks or the Chicago Bulls and see big signings, the one advantage the Blazers have over them all is chemistry and expectations. The Warriors with Durant’s signing are expected to win, and anything else is a failure. The Knicks and Bulls are in the same boat due to playing in the East. The Blazers are still seen as the young team that exceeded expectations, making them the most dangerous.
What the Blazers were able to do transcends any other team. Instead of looking for the bragging rights for more ticket sales they embraced their position as an underdog, made the quiet moves and placed themselves to be successful for the next few years and done so by being smart and patient. They told the rest of the league, “You can have the big names. We will take the production.”