PORTLAND, Ore. — Two more national publications unveiled their first NBA power rankings of the season and both dropped the Portland Trail Blazers, a team that reached the Western Conference finals last season, outside the Top 10.
CBS Sports and Sports Illustrated both placed the Blazers at No. 11 this week.
Neither publication thinks much of Portland’s chances in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. CBS Sports ranked seven West teams ahead of Portland: the Lakers (1), Clippers (2), Nuggets (5), Jazz (6), Rockets (7), Warriors (8) and Spurs (10). Sports Illustrated ranked six West teams ahead of the Blazers: the Clippers (1), Rockets (3), Lakers (5), Jazz (6), Warriors (7) and Nuggets (8).
But at least these pundits recognize what they’re doing. Like ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Kevin Pelton did earlier this summer, yet another writer admitted that doubting the Blazers has become an annual preseason tradition for the national NBA media.
“We continually pick the Blazers as the team that will take a step back and fall out of the playoffs, and they continually prove us wrong,” said CBS Sports’ Colin Ward-Henninger.
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Here's a look at how the Blazers fared in this week's batch of power rankings.
NOTE: As published in last week's power rankings article, ESPN ranked the Blazers No. 10 and The Athletic ranked the Blazers No. 9 in their first power rankings of the season. We're still waiting for the first power rankings from John Schuhmann to show up on NBA.com.
CBS Sports: Blazers rank No. 11
What they wrote: We continually pick the Blazers as the team that will take a step back and fall out of the playoffs, and they continually prove us wrong. This season, however, they've made significant personnel changes that will at least take time to mesh. The Hassan Whiteside experiment is interesting, while their lack of a true power forward will lead to some unconventional combinations. Terry Stotts and his staff have plenty to explore, but the ability to lean on Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum as they navigate the process is quite a luxury. — Colin Ward-Henninger
Sports Illustrated: Blazers rank No. 11
What they wrote: Best case: Damian Lillard rips off a Curry-esque campaign en route to a top three MVP finish while Hassan Whiteside is both content and effective. Back-to-back conference finals appearances is certainly possible. Worst case: The moves on the fringes fall flat and Lillard is surrounded by a scuffling group of cast-offs and has-beens. The Al-Farouq Aminu departure may hurt more than assumed. No Jusuf Nurkic could knock Portland out of the postseason. — Michael Shapiro