The Portland Trail Blazers will be entering an intriguing year.
Damian Lillard is coming back healthy after shutting down the majority of his 2021-2022 season to repair a nagging abdominal injury that had supposedly hampered him for years on end.
In the preseason, he did look noticeably sprier, especially compared to how he looked to begin last year as the Blazers struggled through the early part of 2021.
Dame will be returning to an essentially all-new roster, as most of the supporting cast he had when he shut down his season are now long gone. The only holdovers from the last time Lillard played a meaningful game for the Trail Blazers will be Jusuf Nurkic, Anfernee Simons, Nassir Little, and a couple of young players that weren’t getting much burn before Dame went under the knife.
With a revamped lineup that figures to feature significantly more perimeter defense — Jerami Grant, Gary Payton II, and Josh Hart are all certainly better defenders than most of Dame’s teammates thus far in his career — Lillard will look to lead the Trail Blazers back to the top of an extremely loaded Western Conference.
Portland won’t be the only team looking to improve upon their record from last year and join the playoff mix, though. The Sacramento Kings will be hosting the Blazers to open each team’s season, and they have postseason plans of their own.
Last year, the Kings showed that they were serious about making the playoffs sooner rather than later when they mortgaged their future in the form of young guard Tyrese Haliburton in a win-now trade with the Indiana Pacers in return for Domantas Sabonis.
While the Kings failed to turn their season around even with Sabonis on board last year, with more experience and chemistry together, Sacramento will certainly be hoping that their new star pairing of Sabas and De’Aaron Fox will be able to bring the Kings back into the playoffs for the first time in nearly two decades.
Both teams figure to be competing for Play-In Tournament spots based on an initial evaluation of their collective roster talent. This matchup to begin of their seasons should be a good litmus test for their respective fan bases to readjust their expectations moving forward.
The Blazers and Kings each have some tough decisions to face if they come to realize that their rosters aren’t quite as ready to compete as they initially thought.
— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) October 19, 2022
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| Title: Portland Trail Blazers vs Sacramento Kings Preview
| Author: Andy Quach
| Date: Oct 19, 2022