Grading the Blazers' Offseason Moves

With the majority of the Blazers' offseason moves seemingly complete, some of our writers at Blazergonian decided to come together and offer grades for each transaction.

Draft Nassir Little with the 25th pick

Matt Brooks: Low college production allowed the projected lottery pick to fall in the draft. While it is a bit of a red flag, I don’t see much of an issue - he came off the bench behind Cam Johnson (drafted 11th) and played more as a small-ball four. He’s got the body, character, and potential to develop into an absolute monster on the defensive end. This was truly a win-win situation for both Little and the Blazers, as Little goes to a team known for developing players and the Blazers get an exciting young prospect that oozes potential. At pick 25, it’s easy: A.

Dawson Miller: At 6’6”, 225 lbs, & a 7’2” wingspan, Little is highly undervalued. Falling to 25 defines that. Having a chip on your shoulder is a great way to come in. He’s just the player the Blazers need off the bench to play alongside Simons, especially with the departure of Layman, someone who was expected to get more minutes. Grade: B.

Brody Voge: Drafting Nassir Little was a clear swing for the fences pick from the Blazers and I’m completely here for it. Little has the tangibles to be at least be a defensive presence on that side of the ball. It’s hard to determine much of anything from a few games of summer league but he’s got the build and athleticism. What was his defensive assignment in those games? I don’t know, but at times he looked slow to rotate and behind. He’s young so that’s fine. What we’re going to hear next year and beyond with Little, “if he can learn to make shots he’ll get plenty of minutes in the NBA”. I’m excited to watch this kid grown in Portland. Grade: A.

Trade Evan Turner for Kent Bazemore:

Matt Brooks: Put me down as one of the few who are genuinely sad to see E.T. go, as his off the court fit with the team was perfect. However, this deal makes plenty of sense on the court and I do think it’ll benefit Portland in the long run. Kent is a better shooter and is more athletic, plus his slashing style will open up more opportunities for Anfernee to get minutes. It’s bittersweet, but I certainly think this was the right move to make. Grade: B+.

Dawson Miller: Received as insurance in the event Hood left, Bazemore is a 6’5” guard who can also play the 3. Here are Bazemore’s & ET’s career per 36 according to Basketball Reference.

Bazemore: 15.2ppg, 5.3rpg, 3.3apg, 35% 3PT% 1.8spg

Turner: 13ppg, 6.2rpg, 4.7apg, 29% 3PT% 1.0spg

Take away Trae Young and Kevin Huerter and plug in Lillard and McCollum, and we should expect Bazemore’s numbers to improve all around. Oh, and we didn’t lose Hood. Grade: A.

Brody Voge: The trade for Bazemore was a no brainer in my eyes. I’m sure it was one the Blazers front office had on the radar for a long time. Olshey himself stated they had monitored Bazemore’s progression since '16 when he signed his contract, essentially identical to ET’s. The Hawks young core gains a great veteran ball handler that can teach their young stars the ropes of the NBA while Portland added a player that fits what they do and helps them compete now. Both teams won this deal. I do worry about the defensive versatility Turner offers, effectively guarding any player one through four. But I do think Bazemore is a better fit and hope Zach’s reputation as a defensive stopper helps him stay on the court this year. Grade: B.

Resign Rodney Hood on 2-year deal

Matt Brooks: I definitely like this deal, but I don’t know if I like it as much as other people do. I think Hood is a great addition and I am certainly happy to have him around, but I wonder about what sort of role he may play. Will he start? Will he come off the bench? I think he’d be better as a scoring 2-guard off the bench, but he could also prove to be a valuable safety valve to open up the floor for Dame and co. with the starters. A good signing, but I’m interested to see what sort of role he takes on. Grade: B.

Dawson Miller: Hood played a pivotal role in the Blazers run to the Western Conference Finals. He had 7 games in the playoffs where he scored in double figures & can take some of the weight off of Lillard and CJ’s shoulders. It was regarded around the league Hood was in line for a payday and instead, he comes back to Portland on the mid-level exception. That alone deserves an A. Grade: A+.

Brody Voge: The knock on Hood for the last few seasons has been his consistency. That’s not to say it’s a fair or unfair criticism, that’s just been the knock. In Hood’s interview last week he stated he turned down more money to stay in Portland. He attributed happiness as one of the reasons he chose to stay. Staying in Rip City also allows him an opportunity to be a starting small forward on a team where he will be asked to be a scorer, in an offense that suits him. Can he be a consistent scorer? We’ll see but he will be a consistent threat and that alone has Blazer fans feeling good about getting him back. Grade: A-.

Stefanie Artz: Keeping Hood was my biggest hope this offseason. Not only is he productive, he wants to be here. That’s huge. He’s done a lot for us, but he truly presents himself as Portland doing just as much for him. I like that. Grade A+.

Signed Mario Hezonja on 2-year deal (player option)

Matt Brooks: “The LeBron Stopper,” former top-5 selection, and a consistently-on-bad-teams guy should have no problems in Portland. I’m fully expecting the open offense and team culture to unlock a part of Hezonja that the league hasn’t seen, and I definitely think he will prove to be valuable off the bench. Grade: A.

Dawson Miller: A player who was drafted 5th overall by the Magic in 2015, you could say Hezonja hasn’t lived up to the expectations that come with being the number 5 pick. He’s averaged 18mpg and shot 33% from deep over his 3 year NBA career. With Aminu & Harkless gone, Hezonja can play alongside Collins at the 4. Still, only at 24 years old, it’s a low risk high reward move by Olshey. Grade: B.

Brody Voge: I’m actually disappointed I didn’t see this one coming. Either way, I’m intrigued by it and I think it can be a good fit on the court. Hezonja talked about being a third ball handler option for the Blazers this season. Comparing himself to what Evan Turner was asked to do in his time in Portland. My hunch is that’s what was essentially sold to him before signing here. Olshey has explained in previous interviews that he and his staff look for players with certain skill sets they value. Last season after acquiring Hood at the trade deadline he compared his skill sets to guys like Wesley Mathews and Aaron Afflalo. The front office wants Anfernee to get minutes next season but Hezonja takes some of the playmaking responsibility away from Simons without taking minutes away from him. Hezonja can effectively be the Blazers new point forward. Grade: B.

Stefanie Artz: I am intrigued by this. It’s a low risk move, and the payoff could be huge. I really hope that pay off comes through on the defensive end. He is young, he is athletic and we got him at the minimum. Grade: B+.

Trade Maurice Harkless and Meyers Leonard for Hassan Whiteside

Matt Brooks: Summer 2016 has officially gone full circle, and Neil gets a guy who he has courted for many years. Labeled as locker-room cancer on a bloated contract, the Blazers gave up less than I expected to land Whiteside, and ultimately I’m expecting him to be just fine. Dame has already started his work as the leader of this team, and I think his role as a stop-gap starter will allow him to build confidence throughout the season. By the time Nurk gets back, we should have a full on battle for the starting gig, and I do think it has the potential to bring out the best in both players (however, it could go either way). I'm sad to see Thor and Harkless go, but excited about what a Whiteside resurgence could do for this team. Grade: A.

Dawson Miller: Miami fans are ecstatic that Heat GM Andy Elisburg and President Pat Riley were able to unload Whiteside. I would be as well if I were playing a max contract player 23 to 25 minutes per game like Miami did in 2017-18 & 2018-19 respectively. That’s down the 32.6mpg he averaged in 2016-17, when he had career numbers of 17ppg, 14.1rpg, & 2.1bpg. THAT’S the player the Blazers traded Harkless & Leonard for. Expect Terry Stotts to get that kind of production from him. Also, Whiteside’s contract expires after the 2019-20 season. Grade: B+.

Brody Voge First off, nice. Secondly, we’re hopeful. Lastly, Everyone that said the contracts signed in 2016 would be untradable, either give it up to Olshey for proving you wrong, or at least wait and see how Whiteside fits within the Blazers system before saying anything else. The Blazers defensive scheme is one that already caters to a center like Whiteside, i.e. Jusuf Nurkic. I think that fit totally makes sense and we needed a starting-caliber center, we got one. Whiteside might not have the footwork or vision Nurkic has displayed but he’s a powerful dunker and I could watch Damian Lillard run pick-and-roll with any 7-footer in the league and be satisfied, Whiteside is much better than most 7-footers in the league at finishing off the pick-and-roll. Grade: A+.

Stefanie Artz: Whiteside concerns me in the locker room. If Whiteside produces well, this grade can easily go up. Seeing Whiteside’s reaction on social media was promising. Losing Mo hits us on the defensive end obviously but I think its a gap that can be filled by others. Meyers was great on the bench. Minutes or no minutes he was a great teammate and that can sometimes be irreplaceable. Grade: B.

Sign and trade Jake Layman to Minnesota Timberwolves

Matt Brooks: As much as I wanted to see Layman stay in Portland, I think this may have been the right move. With Hood, Bazemore and Hezonja, it wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense to fill the cap for someone who wouldn’t have a big role. Ultimately, getting any sort of value for someone who was going to leave anyway is a success in my book. Grade: B+.

Dawson Miller: Resigning Layman would have been huge for Portland. With Nurkic out to begin the season, Aminu, Harkless, & Leonard gone, I expected Layman to get minutes with Zach Collins at the 4. His PER was 13.5 (15 is league average) in 2018-19, with more responsibilities, expect that to rise in 2019-20 but in Minnesota, as Portland let him go in a sign and trade. Grade: C-.

Brody Voge: Jake, I was sad to see him go, but I think in Minnesota he finds plenty of opportunities. This is a really team-friendly deal for the Timberwolves and with this getting done it’s a good job by the Blazers from their perspective. That could mean something down the road. It now gives the Timberwolves a little bit more options at three or four as Karl-Anthony Townes slides over to the five in the lone big in a five-man lineup. I’m not a huge fan of just selling players off but this deal is good for Jake and the Blazers certainly have a plethora of wings.

Grade: B-.

Stefanie Artz: I am going back and forth on this. I love Jake, honestly who doesn’t in Ripcity? I think he’s adapted and fits into various roles, I just want to see him really punch through this year. Grade: B.

Sign Anthony Tolliver to 1-year deal

Matt Brooks: This is probably my favorite move the Blazers have made this offseason. In Tolliver, the Blazers are getting a proven role player who doesn’t try to be something he isn’t, wants to be in Portland and ultimately knows his role. A career 37.6% shooter from behind the arc, he can stretch the floor and open up space for the dynamic backcourt. His fit in the locker room appears to be seamless, and he fills a void in the front court which the team needed to fill. Grade: A+.

Dawson Miller: A veteran presence in the locker room and a career 37.6% 3pt% as Matt mentioned, it’s exactly what the Blazers need coming off the bench. A signing that allows Portland depth in an offseason where everyone is concerned with exactly that. Grade: B.

Brody Voge: Getting Anthony Toliver was a good signing for the Blazers. Am I excited about it? Ehh, do I have to be? I’m glad to have him though. He can give us some impactful minutes at the four and likely will get some solid run time. He’ll stretch the floor, he can shoot at a respectable clip and can maneuver in the post. “Hey no team is [gonna] turn down the guy who plays defense and knocks down three’s,” said Tolliver in his introductory press conference with Portland Media. His timing defensively around the rim gives him the ability to make plays, he’s gonna scrap I think a lot of Rip City will embrace him quickly for those reasons. Grade: B-.

#RipCity, let us know in the comments: what do you think of the Blazers' offseason moves so far?

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