• Last offseason the Blazers lost four of their five starters and were penciled in by most experts as a lottery team in the West—boy were they wrong. They were able to finish the season with the fifth seed and had an impressive 44-38 record under the incredible coaching of Terry Stotts, proving you can win with the right personnel. Hoop Ball’s Post-Mortem series takes a look at what happened in Rip City.

    OVERVIEW

    For the third straight season the Blazers were able to make the playoffs, this year being the most surprising considering the organization just started the rebuilding process around their franchise superstar Damian Lillard. With Lillard as the definitive leader after losing LaMarcus Aldridge to the Spurs, the team proved that they could still hang in the West with great leadership and culture.

    Last offseason GM Neil Olshey decided it was time to develop his young talent and start rebuilding the Blazers. They started off by giving Lillard a 5-year extension and signing good role players that did their part for the team, coming to terms with players such as Al-Farouq Aminu, Ed Davis and Gerald Henderson. Although none of the signings blew anyone out of the water statistically, they were all able to contribute in their own way and helped to lead this team back to the playoffs.

    With the Blazers losing four of their five starters, this opened up room for upcoming talent including the immergence of Lillard’s new running mate, C.J McCollum. 3.J shined under the spotlight and took advantage of every opportunity he received. With his nasty handles, ability to spread the floor and score, he was able to win the NBA Most Improved Player Award by a landslide.

    Although the Blazers were winning games, it was clear that they go as far as their backcourt takes them. As a result, they look to gather more talent this summer in free agency to help out the dynamic duo. With names like Evan Turner and Dwight Howard lurking around, the Blazers can be a really interesting team to watch if they were to land a big name free agent. Until then, Portland looks to surprise and prove doubters wrong once again.

    Coaching

    Over his four year tenure as the head coach of the Blazers, Terry Stotts has earned the respect of his players, the league and the fans. This year he made it clear that he is one of the league’s primer coaches by leading a team in the rebuilding process to the playoffs—in the Western Conference.

    What makes Stotts an outstanding coach is his ability to look at his players and design systems that put players in a position to succeed. The level of trust he has in his players allows him to go deep down his bench and have confidence the next guy up will be ready. The most important thing was, he held his team accountable and had the same high standards for them as any other year.

    Even with the change of players, Stotts made no excuses, figuring out a way to lead his team back to the playoffs. He finished a close second in the NBA’s Coach of the Year voting to Steve Kerr and his 73-9 Warriors, and earned the contract extension the Blazers gave him. The team is in good hands.

    The Players

    Damian Lillard

    ADP: 9/14 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 16/18 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 16/20 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 75

    In 2015-16 it was made clear that Lillard was the definitive leader of the Blazers and that this was his team. With four new starters on the floor, he found himself surrounded by new and younger players. Unlike in 2014-15 where there were veterans and proven talent on the team, it was more reliant on Lillard to make sure he and his teammates embraces one another and accepts a more team-centric game plan.

    Although it was a more team-centric focus, Lillard was still the man and lead his team in points per game (25.1), assists per game (6.8) and 3-pointers made (229). With the offence running through him, he also averaged 3.2 turnovers per game, still improving from last season. As for his defensive stats, they were not as stellar as his offensive stats only averaging 0.9 steals and 0.4 blocks per game. His play has lead him to be a top player and fantasy option.

    Recently Lillard has said that there were points towards the end of the season where his foot hurt so much from plantar fasciitis that he could only play during the game. This explains why for the first time in his career he did not play the full 82 games. With this summer to recover, his health will not be an issue for next season.

    The 25-year-old has improved his numbers every year in the league, and with him being the future of the Blazers, next year should be no different. His ability to knock down the three and get to the free-throw line really helps his value. With Lillard taking more shots, a dip in field goal percentage should be nothing to worry about. He should be off the board in most leagues by the first-round if not early second.

    C.J McCollum

    ADP: 80/103 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 26/28 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 31/39 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 80

    With Wesley Matthews leaving for the Dallas Mavericks, it was time for McCollum to step up and seize the Blazers’ starting shooting guard spot. Going into the season many were high on the potential and fantasy value that McCollum could have. He did not disappoint those who believed in him as he became a must start player by the end of the season.

    McCollum was more than just a 3-point specialist in fantasy. He was able to average 20.8 points, 4.3 assists, 3.2 boards, 1.2 steals and 2.5 3-pointers per game. These are solid overall numbers that had him returning top-50 value in standard leagues. In his breakout season you couldn’t ask for anything more. The man was a stud.

    Looking ahead, McCollum will continue to be the second option next to Lillard unless something big happens in free agency. Until then, there is little reason to assume he can’t repeat the same performance as this year. Expect the NBA’s Most Improved Player to put up even better numbers next season.

    Al-Farouq Aminu

    ADP: 118/114 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 77/77 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 110/109 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 82

    Aminu went from being a role player in Dallas, to being the starting small forward on the Blazers replacing Nicolas Batum. He was able to play a lot more minutes this season, which helped his fantasy value. Although his fantasy value was not amazing, he was pretty consistent in terms of hovering around 100 on the season in standard leagues.

    Throughout the season it was clear that his usage rate wasn’t going to be quite as attractive as it was in the preseason. He came out of the season only averaging 10.2 points per game and 6.1 rebounds per game as a starter. These numbers are clearly not Batum—like numbers offensively, but he was also lack-luster on defense only averaging 0.9 steals and 0.6 blocks. With such low money counter stats, it made sense that Aminu was hovering around 100 the whole season.

    Although we expected him to be a late round guy, it was hard not to hope he would put up bigger numbers. His ability to knock down 1.5 3-pointers a game would look awfully nicer if he were able to put up better numbers.

    Ed Davis

    ADP: 110/119 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 123/101 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 166/144 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 81

    For the most part of the season Davis came off the bench and provided solid numbers in a back-up role. With injuries to the Blazers frontcourt, Davis saw more run later in the second half of the season. He was able to average a respectable 6.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game. Davis will always be a capable shot blocker and rebounder; he just needs the minutes to be a fantasy option. He should be no more than a late round flier.

    Mason Plumlee

    ADP: 119/136 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 75/88 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 112/132 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 82

    Plumlee had some good opportunities but could not take any big step forward in terms of his fantasy value for this season. Even as a starter he only managed to be a low-end big man for majority of the season. He averaged 9.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1 block per game, but he is a big athletic man capable of doing more. He’ll need to take another step forward in order to be considered anything more than a low-end big in most fantasy leagues.

    Allen Crabbe

    ADP: N/A / N/A (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 128/108 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 167/142 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 81

    Crabbe played a key role off the bench for the Blazers in 2015-16, taking large strides this season. He was able to average 10.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.4 treys in only 26 minutes per game. If he decided to stay in Portland, you can be assured that his role will be larger. But for now, just keep him on your radar.

    Meyers Leonard

    ADP: 119/103 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 213/217 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 205/209 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 61

    One word to describe Leonard’s season: disappointing. After having such high expectations for him both in terms of fantasy and reality, his season was filled with disappointment. From injuries to seemingly not fitting in, he was only able to average 8.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.4 3-pointers made per game. The upside is there, but he would need one heck of a bounce back season for us to trust him again.

    Maurice Harkless

    ADP: N/A / N/A (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 208/206 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 259/259 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 78

    Harkless showed flashes during the 2015-16 season, but remains inconsistent. In 21.6 minutes per game he averaged 6.4 points, 3.6 boards, 0.9 assists, 0.4 blocks, 0.6 steals and 0.5 3-pointers. At 23-years-old he has a long way to go to offer any real upside to owners next year.

    Gerald Henderson

    ADP: 119/149 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 223/224 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 258/269 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 72

    Henderson is nothing more than a veteran presence on the bench that can come off and give the Blazers a little spark. He averaged 8.7 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1 assist in 19.9 minutes per game. He won’t have fantasy value being behind such a deep backcourt.

    Doctor’s Orders

    After shocking the Western Conference and landing the fifth seed, this offseason may determine whether or not the Blazers can stay in the playoff picture. They have an excellent coach in Stotts and a solid backcourt to lead the way, but every other position can be upgraded. The Blazers can be an interesting team if they can land the right free agent. No matter what happens, look for Dame D.O.L.L.A to be dropping more than just bars this upcoming season. Never doubt.

Fantasy News

  • Rudy Gobert
    C, Utah Jazz

    Rudy Gobert stuffed the stat sheet with 22 points (10-13 FG, 2-7 FT), 15 rebounds, two assists, a steal and three blocks on Wednesday night.

    Gobert is making a case to pop into second-round value on the season after tonight's performance. Unfortunately, the 2-for-7 shooting from the charity stripe is a stain on an otherwise excellent line, but owners know to expect this from the Frenchman.

  • DeMar DeRozan
    SG, San Antonio Spurs

    DeMar DeRozan went 8-of-16 from the field and 4-for-4 at the line for 20 points on Wednesday, but was quiet in other areas, notching just five rebounds, one assist and one steal in 36 minutes.

    DeRozan did commit just one turnover, so he does emerge with a 5-cat special if you're in a 9-category league. His assists should be back in no time, so count on him to be a force in the game ROS.

  • Cristiano Felicio
    C, Chicago Bulls

    Cristiano Felicio double-doubled with 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting and 10 rebounds in 22 minutes on Wednesday.

    Felicio came off the bench to start the game but started the second half over Luke Kornet (15 points in 18 minutes on Wednesday). It could be possible Coach Boylen favors Felicio over Kornet moving forward while Wendell Carter Jr. and Daniel Gafford are out. Standard-league GMs should wait for one more good game from Felicio before adding him and those who picked up Kornet should hold for one more game before dropping.

  • LaMarcus Aldridge
    PF, San Antonio Spurs

    LaMarcus Aldridge paced the Spurs with 32 points on 12-of-20 shooting, plus 14 rebounds, two assists, one steal, one 3-pointer and two blocks in Wednesday's 121-117 over Zion Williamson and the Pelicans.

    Aldridge was near-unstoppable as he had his way in the paint and at the line (7-of-8). He was not fazed by all the brouhaha surrounding Zion Williamson's regular season debut. While Zion is clearly the future of fantasy, Aldridge is the here-and-now as he serves up a top-30 value floor night in and night out.

  • Joe Ingles
    SF, Utah Jazz

    Joe Ingles scored 11 points (4-of-7 shooting) and chipped in two rebounds and eight assists on Wednesday.

    The minutes in this contest were all over the place since the Jazz went up 14 after the first quarter and never looked back. Mike Conley saw 19 minutes off the bench and scored eight points on 4-of-10 from the floor, while Georges Niang saw 22 minutes and dropped 11 points of 4-of-7 shooting. For now, Ingles is still starting over Conley so he should be held onto until things change.

  • Andrew Wiggins
    SF, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Andrew Wiggins dished out nine assists on Wednesday to go with 25 points (10-of-19 from the field), five rebounds and four triples in a 117-110 loss to the Bulls.

    Wiggins shot 1-of-6 from the line and turned the ball over five times to put a damper on an otherwise good night. Wiggins has cooled off after his hot start to the season and is ranked just inside the top-100 on the season. His lack of supporting stats and poor percentages (.439 from the field and .733 from the line) hold back his upside. Wiggins should hover around top-100 value the rest of the way.

  • Donovan Mitchell
    SG, Utah Jazz

    Donovan Mitchell dropped 23 points (8-13 FG, 4-8 3PT) on Wednesday, while tacking on four rebounds, three assists and a steal.

    Mitchell did his damage in just 22 minutes as the game was blowout from the start. The scoring and triples were efficient and we can chalk up the lack of counters to game flow. Mitchell's value is hovering around the top-40 on the year.

  • Karl-Anthony Towns
    C, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Karl-Anthony Towns scored a season-high 40 points on 16-of-24 shooting with six rebounds and four 3-pointers in 31 minutes on Wednesday.

    Towns is back on track with 27 or more points in three of his four games since returning from injury. Towns will be a top-5 player moving forward and it is great to see him back to posting monster fantasy lines again.

  • Shabazz Napier
    PG, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Shabazz Napier scored 16 points with seven rebounds, five assists, two steals and two 3-pointers in 31 minutes on Wednesday.

    Napier is locked in as the starting point guard with around 30 minutes a night now that Jeff Teague is in Atlanta. Napier may be traded, but he will be a standard-league player while he is in Minnesota.

  • Lonzo Ball
    PG, New Orleans Pelicans

    Lonzo Ball had a strong outing in Wednesday's 121-117 loss to the Spurs, finishing with 14 points (4-8 FG, 3-6 3PT), 12 assists and three steals.

    Ball has been a top-55 player over the last two weeks, and games like this will boost his stock. With Zion Williamson as another option for the young point guard to find, we imagine we'll see more double-digit assist games.