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OTG's All-Decade Team: Portland Trail Blazers Edition

Aaron Ontiveros-Getty Images

With the past decade coming to a close, what better way to ring in the new decade by reflecting on the past. Off The Glass is taking a look at each NBA team and selecting their All-Decade squad, which is defined by one guard, one forward, one center, a role player (someone not selected as an All-Star, or to an All-NBA team), and one wildcard.

Today we are highlighting the Portland Trail Blazers.

Guard: Damian Lillard. There was no other person you are picking for this spot other than Dame. He is the Portland Trail Blazers. As he enters his eighth season as a Blazer he does so as a Rookie of the Year winner, a four-time All-Star, a four-time All-NBA. He’s led this team to the playoffs for six straight seasons and will go down as one of the greatest Trail Blazers of all time.

Forward: LaMarcus Aldridge. This is another no-brainer. Before there was Lillard, Aldridge was the face of this franchise. While he’s not near as flashy as Lillard, he was a consistent force for years. He had five straight seasons early in the decade where he averaged over 20 points a game, he earned four All-Star nominations during his time as a Trail Blazer and made three All-NBA teams.

Center: Jusuf Nurkic. I wanted to cheat and put Aldridge here because, until Nurkic, the Trail Blazers never had a solid contributor playing center for them. Greg Oden was supposed to be that guy before injuries derailed his career prematurely. Nurkic has only played with the Trail Blazers for a little over two seasons, but he’s been exactly what this team has needed. He’s the defensive anchor to a team built around offensive juggernauts, and he has thrived.

Role Player: CJ McCollom. After a slow start to his career, when year three rolled around, he proved any naysayer wrong. He’s had five straight seasons averaging more than 20 points a game and it is clear why he was selected at the league most improved player of the 2015-2016 season. McCollom is a victim to the depth of the Western Conference because it’s pretty surprising someone of his ability has yet to be an all-star.

Wildcard: Damian Lillard Diss Tracks. Outside of Lillard's all-world basketball talent, he’s proven to be one of the better NBA players who have crossed over into the music industry. He has "beef" with NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal, and with fellow West Coast NBAer Marvin Bagley. Lillard doesn’t view his rap career as a side project, or as a casual hobby, and it shows in his ability.

Team High: The 2018-19 Western Conference Finals. When Jusuf Nurkic went down with a gruesome injury, many wrote off the Trail Blazer's chances in the playoffs. And them Damian Lillard happened. Lillard sunk a dagger in the Oklahoma City Thunder to move past the first round. Then he led the Blazers past the Nuggets, including a win after four overtimes. Eventually, they met their match by getting swept by the Warriors, but they far surpassed any and every expectation.

Team Low: Jusuf Nurkic getting injured. This is going to be a big what-if that will haunt the Blazers for some time. Nurkic was playing the best basketball of his career, and with hindsight being able to see the Trail Blazer's remarkable playoff run, what would have happened had they had their big man healthy? Could they have overcome the Warriors? If so, how would they have matched up with the eventual NBA champions, the Toronto Raptors? After years of trying to get to this place, everything was cut short by an unforeseen injury.

Upcoming Decade Prediction: This is tough. Nurkic is still recovering from an injury, and it’s clear Hassan Whiteside is not going to fill the void he left behind. Lillard is 29, McCullom is 28, and the Trail Blazers are going to be tied to them for a while. This season is on the verge of looking bleak, and while Carmelo Anthony may sell a few more tickets, he’s not a long-term option. If things continue poorly, they could blow it all up, but with both guys still in their prime, you have to imagine they try everything they can over these next few years to steady the ship and continue setting course for the playoffs. If any team knows how much the NBA Playoffs are like the Wild West, where anything goes, it’s the Trail Blazers.

I would imagine they try to find a trade partner and make a splash before this season is over. If they can, we may be having an entirely different conversation, based on who they can acquire. When all is said and done, if you have Damian Lillard on your team, you have a punchers chance to succeed.

#NBA #Blazers #CharlesAllen #AllDecadeTeam

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