Blazers projected lineup and rotations heading into 2023-24 season

The Portland Trail Blazers are about to rebuild, just don't think too hard about that Jerami Grant contract. Here's how the rotation for Chauncey Billups' squad shapes up.
Jerami Grant, Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Jerami Grant, Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers / Steph Chambers/GettyImages
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Portland Trail Blazers starting small forward: Shaedon Sharpe

Shaedon Sharpe's impressive rookie season contributes to the "too many cooks in the kitchen" nature of Portland's lineup. He's another guard with less than stellar defensive credentials. He's 6-foot-6, but slight of build with a lot of learning to do. Such is life with 20-year-old guards in the NBA, though, and Sharpe has more than earned his spot in the starting five.

Sharpe's rookie season in Portland was a revelation. He was highly regarded coming out of Kentucky, but he never played a game for the Wildcats. He was a relative unknown compared to his lottery pick counterparts, reliant on high school tape and highlight reels to build his case instead of a college resume or international experience. The Blazers took the plunge anyway; Sharpe was the No. 7 pick and he appeared in 80 games (15 starts) in year one.

His role started small, but by year's end — with Lillard, fittingly, shut down — Sharpe was starting games and staking out a weekly claim on the SportsCenter Top 10. The NBA is filled with nutty athletes but Sharpe feels truly singular. He floats like a cloud and frequently climbs several stairs too high on his way up to the rim. Sharpe's athleticism yields more than highlights, too. He's a bursty slasher who can finish with finesse just as well as with power. He's also a competent shooter with untapped potential as a creator.

It's mesmerizing to watch Sharpe bounce around the perimeter, jerking defenders sideways with step-backs or hesitation moves before gutting the defense with a strong move to the rim. His pull-up jumpers are smooth and he shot 36.0 percent on 3.5 attempts per game from 3-point range (in only 22.2 minutes) as a rookie. He has room to grow as a passer and defender, but the foundation is strong and the Blazers, on the precipice of a rebuild, can afford to be patient. Not that Sharpe will require too much patience at this rate.

Primary backup small forward: Nassir Little

Nassir Little re-upped with the Blazers on a four-year, $28 million contract. That's great value for Portland, with Little emerging as a key role player due to his physical wing defense and bankable jumper. He shot 36.7 percent from 3-point range last season, a new career high.

Little is a physical athlete, 6-foot-5 with 220 pounds of pure muscle. He can guard all over the floor thanks to his 7-foot-2 wingspan and he is Portland's best answer to bigger wing creators like LeBron James or Kawhi Leonard. He brings a necessary edge to the second unit and he's still 23 years old, only in the hatchling stage of his NBA career. There's plenty of room to grow beyond what his small contract suggests.

Other players who could receive minutes at small forward: Jerami Grant, Matisse Thybulle, Kris Murray