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The Blazers Continue to be Just Good Enough and That’s Bad

David Blair/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire

The Portland Trail Blazers are by no means as horrific a basketball team as some media members projected before the season. Heck, some had them finishing dead last in the NBA. You know, behind the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Kobe Bryants.

It hasn’t even been close to being that bad.

So far this season Portland has been solid. Almost better than decent if you want to be a real glass half full type of human. They’ve even shown some real signs of having a better future. With two legitimate building blocks in Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, it makes sense.

Except, well, their 8-12 record is actually bad. Not like bad for wins and losses, but like bad as it’s probably¬†detrimental to their health.

Not that sick

Not that sick

Other than those two awesome players, Portland has very little reason to be good this season. With that being said, while even using the luxury of knowing they have the ability to win games this specific season, they need to stop doing so.

Yup. They need to borrow from Sam Hinkie and begin their own version of The Process.

To be clear: Portland shouldn’t spend more than one season implementing Tank’a’palooza. They already have their core building blocks. There’s no need to continue to dip into ping pong ball hell as often as the Sixers have.

There goes Hinkie. Strutting about in ping pong hell

There goes Hinkie. Strutting about in ping pong ball hell.

What their concern for this season is, however, the fact that they’re playing their way out of scooping up an elite player to add to their young nucleus of talent.

Let’s pretend, because playing pretend is fun, that the Blazers keep up at a similar winning pace as they are now. Right now they win eight out of every 20 games they play. That puts them on pace to win 32-ish games this season. That’s certainly not good enough to get in the playoffs, but probably “just” swell enough to keep them out of having a great draft pick.

It’s a fundamental flaw in the NBA’s system. Portland is trying to win, yet their roster is bad, so they’re going to pay for their own effort into making the season into anything other than a complete bust with NOT being able to build a better roster going forward.

Thing is, as the cruel reality of life should set in, Portland isn’t historically known to land top free agents. Sure, they can most certainly land decent role player types, but they’ll have to greatly overpay for them because known commodities aren’t going there to lose with the roster they have now. Not to mention there’s a near-zero percent chance they can land a top-tier player to add to their current almost, not quite yet big two.

The only other way for Portland to better its roster, while continuing to keep the assets that are Dame and C.J., is to land a third player to add to them by way of the NBA’s end-all, the draft.

So the winning is actually hurting them. They’re biting their nose to spite their own face. They’re janitors cleaning the boys’ room at an elementary school, while kids are still defecating in the stalls. Portland is a unicorn who’s attempting to rid the world of lobsters by traveling to Kansas to do so.

The impending lobster invasion is real. Very, very real.

The impending lobster invasion is real. Very, very real.

Basically, what I’m trying to say in the most roundabout way as humanly possible, is that the Blazers are doing themselves a disservice because the structure of the NBA will punish them for being not bad enough to get better, but not good enough to matter.

The solutions aren’t that simple, obviously. It’s not as if someone in Portland’s front office can come in and whisper to the team, “I need you fellas to stop tryin’ so dang hard…mmmmkay?” Or whatever front-office people say and sound like, except I’m totally hoping it’s like that.

That’s why they might want to start thinking about trading away some assets. Guys who aren’t good enough to matter to them, yet are good enough to matter for other teams who will give them other assets. A little switching of assets, that in the grand scheme of things means little in way of actual talent changing hands, but can go a long way in forcing Portland to be the correct amount of wretched it takes to get back into the Ben Simmons and {insert the slew of other really talented players that’ll be in a stocked draft class} race.

Other than that, though, if the Blazers are dead set on attempting to win basketball games this season, then they best start making some moves. There was good reason this team wasn’t projected to be all that good. I’m not exactly sure how they’d go about doing so, but putting a better team around Dame and McCollum — likely at the expense of any future — seems like the only other viable option. Trading away multiple first-round picks in such a way (unprotected) that they force a team to give up a very good player, even. Still,¬†then they’d likely be on the playoff bubble at best.

So, um, Portland. I really like you and some of your players. For your sake — and mine — start losing a little bit more, mmmmkay?

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