3-on-3 Blazers
How much better are the Blazers? Offseason review

How much better are the Blazers? Offseason review

November 25, 2020

Now that the dust has settled after a rapid-fire offseason, the Portland Trail Blazers appear to have a deeper and more talented roster, especially on defense.


The NBA fast-tracked its offseason, with the start of trade season, the draft and free agency all starting and (mostly) wrapping up last week. In a stretch of seven days, Portland made the following moves:

  • Traded for Robert Covington. Portland gave up forward Trevor Ariza, this year’s first-round pick and a future first-round pick.
  • Drafted C.J. Elleby in the second round.
  • Traded for Enes Kanter. This was part of a three-team deal that sent guard/forward Mario Hezonja to Memphis.
  • Resigned Rodney Hood
  • Signed free agent Derrick Jones Jr.
  • Resigned Carmelo Anthony
  • Signed free agent Harry Giles

The move for Covington was the headliner and the reason so many national pundits have raved about the Blazers' offseason.

"The Blazers felt one medium-sized move and some good health away from being a problem," said ESPN's Zach Lowe. Covington might be the perfect piece to lock everything into its proper place."

But the Blazers also shored up their depth. Depending on who starts, Portland's reserve unit could feature Gary Trent Jr., Anthony, Kanter and Collins, Hood or Jones Jr.

"We wanted to be more athletic, we wanted to be better defensively this year," said Neil Olshey, the Trail Blazers’ president of basketball operations. "We wanted more versatility on the perimeter, we wanted to be able to switch more and be more disruptive on defense, more aggressive on that end."

At least on paper, it seems like Olshey and the Blazers accomplished many of those goals. How it all gels on the court remains to be seen, but Blazers fans won't have to wait much longer. NBA preseason games begin Dec. 11 and the regular season starts Dec. 22.

KGW's 3-on-3 Blazers podcast team got together Wednesday to talk about the Blazers' moves and make some predictions about the season ahead.

Emergency pod! Blazers stun Lakers in Game 1

Emergency pod! Blazers stun Lakers in Game 1

August 19, 2020

KGW's Orlando Sanchez and Nate Hanson talk about the Portland Trail Blazers' shocking Game 1 upset against the Lakers. The Blazers proved they're not a typical 8 seed and have no fear of LeBron James and the Lakers. Orlando and Nate talk about Damian Lillard continuing his elite play in the NBA bubble, the Blazers' experience giving them the ability to rally for victories, and look ahead to Game 2 and the rest of the series.


Dame Time in the NBA Bubble

Dame Time in the NBA Bubble

August 14, 2020

You can never count out the Portland Trail Blazers as long as Damian Lillard is around. He averaged 37.6 points and 9.6 assists in the eight seeding games in the NBA bubble, playing 41.7 minutes per game as the Blazers went 6-2 to capture the 8 seed and a spot in the play-in series against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Portland only needs to beat Memphis once to earn a first-round playoff matchup against LeBron James and the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers.

Blazers narrow gap for 8 seed

Blazers narrow gap for 8 seed

August 7, 2020

The Portland Trail Blazers are 3-1 in the NBA bubble and have pulled within a half game of the Memphis Grizzlies for eighth place in the Western Conference.

The Blazers have four seeding games left and if Portland is able to secure the eight seed, it would give the team a huge boost in its quest to reach the playoffs for the seventh year in a row.

If Portland is eighth and competes in the play-in against the ninth-seeded team, they'd only have to win one game to advance to the playoffs while the ninth seed would have to win two games.

The Blazers' remaining schedule remains difficult. The final four seeding games are against the Clippers, 76ers, Mavericks and Nets. But after four games, Portland has improved its position and KGW's 3-on-3 Blazers podcast crew got together to talk about the Blazers' performance in the NBA Bubble thus far and what to expect going forward.

Trail Blazers’ playoff push starts now

Trail Blazers’ playoff push starts now

July 30, 2020

The long NBA layoff because of the coronavirus has actually helped the Portland Trail Blazers.


That's because two key pieces of the team, big men Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins, are healthy and ready to play. Nurkic broke his leg last season and hadn't played since. Collins injured his shoulder earlier this season.


The Blazers play their first game of the restart in the NBA bubble on Friday at 1 p.m. against the Memphis Grizzlies.


KGW's Orlando Sanchez, Nate Hanson, Max Barr and Jared Cowley talk about the NBA bubble, the NBA starting up again, the return of Nurkic and Collins, the Blazers' chances and much more.

When the NBA will start up again; Thoughts on The Last Dance

When the NBA will start up again; Thoughts on The Last Dance

April 30, 2020

On a special Zoom recording of the 3-on-3 Blazers podcast, KGW's Orlando Sanchez, Jared Cowley, Nate Hanson and Max Barr talk about living through the COVID-19 outbreak, how much they miss sports, whether the 2019-20 NBA season might resume, what that would mean for the Blazers if it did, and The Last Dance, ESPN's excellent documentary on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.

Blazers season suspended amid coronavirus outbreak

Blazers season suspended amid coronavirus outbreak

March 13, 2020

The NBA decided to suspend its season amid the coronavirus outbreak. Commissioner Adam Silver hopes games can be resumed after a 30-day hiatus. Orlando Sanchez and Nate Hanson share their reactions to the news and what it could potentially mean for the Portland Trail Blazers.

Will the Blazers make the playoffs?

Will the Blazers make the playoffs?

February 27, 2020

On this week's episode of the 3-on-3 Blazers podcast, we gauge our confidence level in Portland's playoff chances, debate which was the worst thing to happen to the Blazers this season, and make predictions for the next four games.

Get more Blazers coverage at kgw.com/blazers

1. The Blazers have lost two of three since the All-Star break and they're still without Damian Lillard. But they've actually gained a game and a half on the Grizzlies, who have lost four in a row. With 23 games left, Portland trails eighth-place Memphis by just 2.5 games. On a scale of 1-10, what's your confidence level that the Blazers will make the playoffs this season?

Jared: I'll put my confidence level at a 4. I expect Memphis to continue to struggle because of its difficult schedule and injuries to key players. But I think the team that has the best chance of surging past Memphis — and the Blazers — is New Orleans. Zion Williamson is incredible, and the Pelicans have talent, good health and an easier schedule than the Blazers. I'm not counting the Blazers out, but a lot of uncertain things have to turn in Portland's favor. Damian Lillard needs to return in the next few games, and the Blazers need Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins back soon, as well, to shore up their depth. Once Lillard and hopefully one or both of Nurkic and Collins are back, I think Portland can go on a run considering their soft schedule. Until Lillard gets back, the Blazers must beat the bad teams on their schedule. They have to stay ahead of the Pelicans, because New Orleans is going to win a lot of games down the stretch and they have the tiebreaker against Portland.

Nate: I’ll say a 2. Not as low as it was during the All-Star break, but I still have very little confidence they’ll finish the season ahead of both Memphis and New Orleans. The things the Blazers need to happen have happened over the last week. Memphis has lost all four of its games since the All-Star break and will continue to have a difficult schedule the rest of the season. Meanwhile, after Thursday’s game against Indiana, Portland has a six-game stretch against teams below .500 before they play Memphis again. So, the schedule would suggest Portland can make up ground. But I still believe Memphis is a better team than the Blazers. They beat Portland before the All-Star break and I don’t expect the Blazers will beat Memphis in both of the two remaining matchups this season to make up ground on them head-to-head. And Memphis may not be the team that should worry the Blazers the most. New Orleans is just half a game behind Portland, has won 8 of their last 12 games, has a favorable schedule and owns the tiebreaker over the Blazers.

Orlando: So much of this question revolves around the health of Damian Lillard. If he’s back this week, I like their chances and would put it at a 6 or even a 7. Without him, they are done. The longer it takes for their All-Star to get back, the lower their chances are of making the playoffs. With 23 games left, the 8 seed is there for the taking, especially with 2 games against Memphis, in Portland. It’s a 3-4 team race for the final spot. Laugh at me if you want, but I’m actually looking forward to seeing how the race for the 8 seed plays out.

Can CJ McCollum step up with Damian Lillard out?

Can CJ McCollum step up with Damian Lillard out?

February 20, 2020

On this week's episode of the 3-on-3 Blazers podcast, we talk about Damian Lillard being out for the next few games, the development of Gary Trent Jr. and Anfernee Simons, whether criticism of CJ McCollum is justified, and make predictions for the next three games.

Get more Blazers coverage at kgw.com/blazers

The Portland Trail Blazers have had a nice, long break during the NBA's All-Star festivities and now they have 26 games left in the regular season to achieve their goal of making the playoffs.

To get there, they'll have to make up some ground with the eighth-place Grizzlies holding a four-game lead in the standings over the Blazers. And they'll have to start that pursuit without their best player.

The biggest question for Portland is Damian Lillard's health. Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes reported last Thursday he'd miss a week or two with a strained groin. A couple days ago during a radio interview, head coach Terry Stotts said, "maybe a week, maybe a month." Then on Thursday, KGW's Orlando Sanchez reported that Lillard said he'll likely miss three to five games.

The next few games will be a tough stretch for the Blazers without Lillard. The next three games are at home, but they're against the Pelicans, who are 3-0 against Portland this season; the Celtics, one of the best teams in the East; and the Pistons, which gives Portland a chance at a victory. Then a road trip begins against a talented Pacers team with star guard Victor Oladipo back in its lineup.

After these four games, the Blazers have an easy schedule down the stretch and two head-to-head matchups at home against the Grizzlies. So there's still hope. But there's so little margin for error right now, losing Lillard even for the next few games could push the Blazers too far back to rally.

Nipping on the Blazers' heels are the San Antonio Spurs and New Orleans Pelicans. Both of those teams have easy schedules down the stretch, just like the Blazers, and they're not dealing with the kind of injuries that are plaguing Portland.

On this week's episode of the 3-on-3 Blazers podcast, we talk about Damian Lillard being out the next few games, the development of Gary Trent Jr. and Anfernee Simons, whether criticism of CJ McCollum is justified, and make predictions for the next three games.

With Dame hurt, can Blazers rally to make playoffs?

With Dame hurt, can Blazers rally to make playoffs?

February 13, 2020

On this week's episode of the 3-on-3 Blazers podcast, we talk about Damian Lillard's injury and whether the Blazers can still make the playoffs, discuss the potential return of Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins, revisit our worst preseason predictions and make one big prediction each for the rest of the season.

Get more Blazers coverage at kgw.com/blazers

1. Damian Lillard is hurt and the Blazers are now five games back in the loss column for the final playoff spot in the West. Are the playoffs still possible?

Nate: Any hope remaining for the Blazers to make the playoffs is on life support. The only reason I'm still saying they have a sliver of hope is because of Damian Lillard. He didn't seem too concerned that the injury he suffered against Memphis would keep him out an extended period, so I don't expect him to miss much time. We've already seen him carry this team for a two-week stretch this season. And a three-game losing streak by Memphis could put Portland right back in the thick of the race. But the Grizzlies are 22-10 in their last 32 games. If they play .500 the rest of the season, they'll be 42-40, which I would put on the low end of what their record will be at the end of the season. That means Portland would have to finish the season 17-9 to get to 42-40. That seems like too big of a hole for the Blazers to dig themselves out of, but I'll give them a slim chance because of Lillard.

Orlando: If this Damian Lillard injury is serious and he's missing games, it's a wrap. If he's OK, then they've still got a chance. Anyone who legitimately follows this team knows you can't count them out with Lillard on the court. After the Memphis game he said, "Don’t think that was just it." He was referring to the two-week tear he went on. He might not average 45 points per game but he is going to play at a high level and elevate the guys around him. He does it every year. The Blazers have 26 games left and they have one of the easiest remaining schedules, while Memphis will be put to the test with arguably the strongest schedule in the league. Portland will have opportunities to catch them. They just have to hope they don't end up in a tie breaker situation with New Orleans. The Blazers have their work cut out for them, five back in the loss column, but to write them off, I'm not going there yet. This is setting up to be an entertaining race to the finish.

Jared: The Blazers are now four games behind the Grizzlies for the final playoff spot in the West and five games back in the loss column. In the past 10 seasons, only one team has been that far back at the break and still made the playoffs (h/t Matt Moore). The Blazers face an uphill, almost unprecedented climb to get into the playoffs. You never want to count out Damian Lillard, but you also can't count on him because at this time, we're still unsure of his injury status. If it's a Grade 1 strain, he could be back shortly after the All-Star break. If it's a Grade 2 strain, he could miss a couple months. If Lillard comes back shortly after the break, it's not over. Many of the reasons for optimism still exist. Dame is really good. The team could get Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins back. Memphis has the toughest-remaining schedule in the league while Portland has one of the easiest. The Blazers have two games left against the Grizzlies, both at home. But if Dame has to miss a significant amount of time, it's over. The Blazers are 10 points worse per 100 possessions this season without Lillard on the court. The team has had a negative net rating when he's been off the court each of the past four season, and during that same timeframe, Portland is 10-10 in the 20 games Lillard has missed. That’s not good enough. If the Blazers want to make the playoffs for the seventh season in a row, they'll have to be much better than a .500 team after the break.

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