The Portland Trail Blazers added much needed depth this offseason. They were last in bench points per game last season scoring just 18.5 per game. The added depth should help to increase their productivity off the bench.
Not only did Portland add depth, but they did so without having to give up much. They will have two new guys coming in off the bench at the forward position – Thomas Robinson (via trade) and Dorell Wright (free-agency).
The Blazers got Robinson for very cheap. Just a year ago he was drafted one pick ahead of Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard. Since then, he has been traded twice – once by the Sacramento Kings and another by the Houston Rockets. Both were deals Houston made to clear up cap space in order to make a run at Dwight Howard. It worked out well for Houston, as they got their guy. Portland gave up two future 2nd round picks and two euro players that were stashed overseas (Kostas Papanikolau and Marko Todorovic) for Robinson.
Wright came to Portland as a free agent. He actually wanted to come here. He loves to shoot 3’s and it just so happens that the Blazers do too. It helps that Wright is actually a good three point shooter. Plus, his 5 year old son is a huge fan of the Oregon Ducks running back De’Anthony Thomas.
He should fit in just Wright in Portland.
The starting forwards will obviously be LaMarcus Aldridge at power forward and Nicolas Batum at small forward. Wright should see plenty of minutes off the bench in place of Batum. Head coach Terry Stotts likes the additions. He also believes that Robinson and Wright should add to some versatility within the rotation. He believes Wright can play at the three and even a little bit of four in a smaller lineup.
Robinson, as he has shown thus far in summer league, is a beast on the boards. He had good rebounding numbers during his rookie season with 4.5 RPG over just 15.1 MPG. He is extremely athletic, strong, and has tremendous length with his 7’1” wingspan (He is listed as 6’9”).
It’s a shame that he wasn’t given more of an opportunity last year. Look for him to make the best of his opportunity here in Portland, especially against his two previous teams.
Last year, it was Claver and Freeland as the backups to LaMarcus and Batum – sprinkled with a little bit of Luke Babbitt (Luke is no longer with the team).
Much Needed Rest For Starters
Yes, the added depth means that the starters will actually get some rest this season. Terry Stotts won’t be afraid to plug these guys in for extended minutes at times.
With the much needed rest, Portland will increase the likelihood of staying healthy towards the end of the season.
They may even be able to finish out a playoff push instead of tanking the season because of declined health to key players.
My Thoughts and Expectations
I think the Blazers have a few candidates for 6th man of the year next season. I mean, hey, if Babbitt can get a third place vote, I’m sure Robinson and Wright can get one.
Wright has made 434 3-pointers over the past 3 season. According to the Trail Blazers twitter account which tweeted the stat line, this ranks him 4th in the NBA during that span. Portland’s offensive sets led to a lot of 3-pointer shots last season. They attempted the 4th most 3-pointers last season. Wright should excel in this situation.
I really like the Robinson deal, especially for what little the Blazers gave up. He is a top talent. He didn’t even work out for Portland last offseason because he wasn’t expected to slip past the top-5 (Portland had the 6th pick).That didn’t stop them from recognizing his talent and potential when pulling the trigger on this deal.
The part that intrigues me most about this deal is that Robinson can potentially work as a security blanket if LaMarcus decides to walk at the end of his contract.
The Blazers now have three lottery picks from last year’s NBA Draft in Lillard, Robinson, and Meyers Leonard. If all three pan out, they may need the cap space that Aldridge would leave behind in order to retain them all.
Only time will tell with this group, but one thing is for certain, the Blazers will have some major decisions to make in the near future.