Portland shuffles supporting cast, but it’s still all about the guards

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Portland Trail Blazers

Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

Last season the Portland Trail Blazers exceeded expectations and reached the Western Conference Finals. How will they build on that success in 2019-20?

Continuity has been the Portland Trail Blazers‘ motto over the past several seasons. They have maintained stability on the backs of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum for more than half a decade, consistently defying the doubters as a perennial playoff contender.

Last season was the apex of this trend. Written off by many prior to the 2018-19 campaign, Lillard and Co. burst into the top half of the Western Conference, earning the No. 3 seed in a crowded pack. The seventh-year guard out of Weber State also earned his fourth career All-NBA selection, torching the league for 25.8 points and 6.9 assists per night on a .444/.369/.912 slash line.

Lillard kicked off the postseason by sending the Thunder into a rebuild with one of the best shots the league has seen in recent memory:

McCollum came to life in Round 2, lighting up the Nuggets for three separate 30-point affairs. Denver’s feel-good season came to an end thanks to the evident experience of Lillard and McCollum at that stage.

They ran into a dynasty in the conference finals. The matchup was far from favorable for Portland, as they lacked the positional versatility to even think about defending three of the greatest shooters ever.

With that superpower now (relatively) disbanded, the West is wide open for the first time in half a decade, and the Blazers are in the thick of it. Here’s a look at how they kept pace with the rest of the league’s superior half.

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