Starter: Jusuf Nurkic
Bench: Meyers Leonard, Chinanu Onuaku
Nurkic disappointed after his hot end to the 2016-17 season, and his productivity and defense regressed throughout last year. The Blazers are committed to him long-term now, and that initial version of Nurkic is the guy they need. They need a guy who can protect the rim behind the Blazers’ guards, provide a reliable pick-and-roll threat, and control the glass, especially when Aminu is off the floor. Nurkic ideally can be all of those things, and another year of development could mean he becomes more consistent as the Blazers’ anchor. That remains to be seen, though.
Leonard, meanwhile, is another avatar of Blazers’ fans frustrations with the front office, because he struggled in his first year after getting paid in 2016, and then lost all of last season to injury. At his peak, Leonard was a successful pick-and-pop threat with some passing ability who helped out the bench offense; but he’s been more harmful than helpful thanks to his defensive limitations of late. If Chinanu Onuaku can have a strong camp showing and earn a roster spot, he might be more helpful than Leonard as a rim protector and lob threat, but as of now the ceiling on the bench at the five is fairly low.