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Josh Selby Nearly Retired, Now Attempting NBA Comeback

Josh Selby was down and nearly out, but is fighting now to salvage his career.

David Pick



Josh Selby was sitting in the upper deck of a small high-school gym with one-side seating when he challenged a bench-warming teammate to hit a three-pointer from the bleachers. The stakes weren’t high, in the neighborhood of $130 per shot, make-or-miss.

The kid missed. Twice. Selby was up $300, but he never had any intension of collecting the cash. It was his way of making sure his team doesn’t fold under pressure.

It wasn’t long ago that Selby, once the No. 1 NCAA recruit in the nation and former NBA draft pick, hit rock bottom.

Selby, once the highest ranked high-school baller in the United States, led a class that featured some of the NBA’s current-and-future stars. In a sense, he went from hero-to-zero. Selby bounced around the NBA and the respected D-League before heading overseas for stints in China, Croatia and now Israel. At one point, the 23-year-old Baltimore native began to mull over retirement.

“I went through a time where I was depressed with basketball. I got depressed because things weren’t going my way. I had thoughts of retiring,” Selby told Basketball Insiders following a team practice in Herzliya, a suburb city outside of the Tel Aviv.

His dream of an NBA comeback was still alive as he attended a private workout for the Orlando Magic over the summer.

“I had a good workout for the Magic and was able to get my feet wet after not playing since January. It was a blessing to get a camp invite, but it was the only invite I got,” said Selby. “I went up against Seth Curry and a few others, but the Magic already had a Summer League roster, so I didn’t get a real chance.”

“A real chance,” Selby said as his face frowned and dropped south, is all he ever asked for. But he never got it.

Selby was a late second-round draftee of the Memphis Grizzlies in 2011. It was his time as a backup point guard with the blue-and-gold that sparked Selby’s depression. Selby had just moved into to his new home and was getting comfortable in Memphis when the business side of the league took a swing at the former McDonald’s All-American.

“It was around Christmas,” the 6-foot-2 guard recalled, “I had my entire family in Memphis when the Grizzlies traded me to the Cleveland Cavaliers. I left them all behind.”

Selby recorded just 2.2 points and 0.9 assists in 38 appearances for the Grizzlies before being shipped off to the Cavaliers. Selby was crushed. His depression, though, began a lot sooner.

“I got depressed when I was with the Grizzlies,” Selby said. “When I got drafted, Memphis signed Jeremy Pargo as a backup point guard during my rookie season. Then, Memphis drafted Tony Wroten my second season, so I never go a real opportunity to play. I was always a third-string point guard. If I had a legit chance to showcase my talents and a coach that trusts me, I might reach my full potential.”

Prior to that, before the walls crumbled around him, Selby capped a highlight-real Summer League chapter for the Grizzlies, averaging over 25 points per game on 70 percent shooting from the perimeter. He was ranked as the third best scorer and earned co-MVP honors with Portland Trail Blazers phenom Damian Lillard.

Soon after, Selby became a basketball journeyman, moving from one place to the next.

“I’ve been on five teams in five months. I went from Memphis to Reno; from Reno to Cleveland; from Cleveland to Canton; and then from Canton to Maine. Wow, five teams in five months,” Selby said, tossing his hands in the air as his eyes opened wide.

Selby’s depression escalated upon his arrival in Ohio.

“As soon as I get to Cleveland they sent me down to Canton to the D-League,” he said. “I had no chance with the Cavaliers. Then I’m released two weeks later, traded to another D-League team. I was like damn, no one wants me, what am I doing wrong? I’m working hard and trying my best. I couldn’t believe it.”

The former Kansas Jayhawk star saw the NBA doors closing as teams failed to offer a contract. Selby was forced to cross the pond and his first deal was a short-lived era in China, land of high-volume scoring guards and even higher checks.

On November 2013, Selby signed a one-month, $40,000 deal with Qingdao Double Star Eagles of the CBA, but that lasted just three games. The transition to the high-speed overseas style of play wasn’t the issue. Selby posted averages of 22.3 points, three rebounds and three assists per game, yet his team couldn’t win.

“Our team was losing all the time. I don’t think the club won a game in two years. I was playing well but all the imports got sent home because we weren’t winning. I sure didn’t see all the money I was owed. I don’t know what happened to it,” said Selby, who realized how shady and cut-throat the hoops market is outside the NBA.

The next attempt at resurrecting his career was in Croatia. Selby signed with local power-club Cedevita Zagreb for $15,000 per month, but recorded just one game before receiving his release papers. According to multiple sources, Selby’s coach, Jasmin Repesa, coach for the Croatia national-team at recent World Cup games in Spain, isn’t fond of U.S. players. Furthermore, his current team has zero American imports.

Selby, though, wouldn’t comment in full on Repesa’s dislike of non-European players.

“I’ll say I was cut because of a stomach injury, that’s what the team told me,” Selby said.

In high-school, Selby was one of the brightest NBA prospects and top ranked recruits in a class that included Kyrie Irving, Harrison Barnes, Dion Waters, Tobias Harris, Jared Sullinger, Brandon Knight and Tristan Thompson.

His one-and-done stint with Kansas was shadowed by a suspension and injuries, as Selby played in only 26-of-38 games for a total season average of 7.9 points and 2.2 assists per contest. He then declared entering the NBA draft.

“Honestly, I don’t know if my knee injuries impacted my draft stock. All I know are rumors. Would I still be in the NBA if I were a first-round draft pick? Man, I have no idea. God is the only one to know that,” Selby said.

Selby continues to battle common misperceptions about him wherever he goes. Now, roughly 6,000 miles away from home, he tried to brush it off.

“The negative media had a lot of impact on my career,” Selby said. “I put myself in the wrong situations in the past, but I was young. I read all the negative stuff about me, some parts are true, others aren’t.”

During the recent offseason, Selby signed a single-season deal in top league in Israel worth $110,000, according to team insiders. Selby didn’t wait long for his coming out party, dropping a season-high 30 points in 39 minutes for Bnei Herzliya in the season opener. Over the first month of the season, Selby was No. 1 in the Israeli-League in scoring and efficiency.

His stock slipped over the last couple of weeks, but Selby cemented himself as the third-best scorer in the league with 16.4 points per game. He’s also ranked sixth in three-point shooting percentage with 43.5 percent, and ninth in steals with 1.9 to go along with 2.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. Selby is Herzliya’s lead candidate to make the domestic All-Star Game.

Still young and learning, Selby found a way to transform his negative publicity and fuel the jets.

“I try to take the negative rumors, learn from them and better my character and continue to grow,” Selby said. “I used to get angry over what people were writing, but I’m more mature now and just ignore it. I hate that people keep talking about the old Josh Selby.”

Upon signing in Israel, a couple of Twitter users invented “The Selby Line” – an over/under estimation of the total number of appearances Selby would register before losing his job.

“8 games,” tweeted one handle.

“If he plays over 10 games that’s starting to get towards a successful stint for him,” tweeted a second user.

“The Selby Line,” caught up to Selby, who screen grabbed the tweets and saved them on his cell phone.

Next week, Selby will enter round No. 14 and complete almost five full months with his club. His mission, he confessed, is accomplished.

“Those tweets added fuel to my fire,” Selby said. “When I saw that I said, ‘Damn. People really doubted me like that? People are really going to tweet … what’s the under/over score of Josh Selby staying in Israel? Seriously?’ C’mon man, I’m 23 years old, people should be happy that I’m somewhere playing. I’ve never been someone people talk good about. It’s always some negative tag to me.”

With just a handful of practices in preseason, a second teammate of Selby’s, a starting 6-foot-4 point-forward who is also known as a defensive specialist, asked the former NBA guard to stay after training. When his coach gave the green light to hit the showers, Selby’s teammate was waiting at one end of the floor with a basketball.

“Let’s settle this. One-on-one,” said the teammate.

Needless to say, Selby, one of the quickest and elite ball-handling guards in Israel, took his opponent to school with a series of playground buckets. Selby won.

“I didn’t know anything about Israel, besides the wars and what people see on CNN. My family was hesitant and nervous about me coming here, but I discovered a beautiful country with nice people. I’m happy I made the right decision to sign here,” Selby said.

The off-court transition, though, was a struggle for the lone overseas guard. Selby knew nothing about his new club, he never heard of its city and was completely oblivious of the fact that the reigning European champions, Maccabi Tel Aviv, compete in the same league.

Things changed quickly for Selby.

“When I got over to Israel, as I started talking to people, at least 25-out-of-26 people didn’t know who Herzliya was, but told me about Maccabi,” he said.

The overall public assumptions were that Selby, based on his appearances, landed a deal with one of Europe’s most decorated organizations ever.

“People asked if I play for Maccabi and I had to correct them,” he said. “You play for Maccabi? No Herzliya. Who? Herzliya Who? Heeeerzzzliyaaaaa. I’m trying my best to get the team on the map because out here it’s Maccabi land.”

As far as an NBA comeback goes, he is currently out of sight and mind, but not giving up hope. Selby said no scouts or NBA personnel have contacted him thus far, but it’s not troubling him at this point in time.

“I want to help my team reach the playoffs and take them as far as possible,” Selby said. “As long as I take care of business and win here, the NBA will come find me.”



David Pick has extensively covered European basketball and American players abroad since 2010. His work can be found at and Follow him on Twitter @iamdpick


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NBA Daily: The Stretch Run — Southeast Division

With the All-Star Break behind us, the final stretch of NBA games has commenced. Quinn Davis takes a look at a few teams in the Southeast Division that have a chance at making the dance.

Quinn Davis



Well, that was fast.

With the NBA All-Star break in the rearview, there are now fewer than 30 games to play for all 30 NBA teams. In other words, time is running out for certain teams to improve their seeding in the conference.

Here at Basketball Insiders, we will be looking at a certain subset of teams that are right on the border of making or missing the playoffs. In this edition, the focus will be on the Southeast Division.

The Southeast features three teams — the Charlotte Hornets, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards — operating in the lower-middle-class of the NBA. These three will be slugging it out over the next month-and-a-half for the right to meet the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs.

The two remaining teams are the Miami HEAT and Atlanta Hawks. As this is being written, the former is comfortably in the playoffs at 35-20, while the latter is comfortably gathering more ping pong balls at 16-41.

In this space, the focus will be on the three bubble teams. The Magic are currently frontrunners for the eighth seed, but the Wizards and Hornets are within striking distance if things were to go awry.

Led by head coach Steve Clifford, the Magic have ground their way to the eighth seed behind an eighth-ranked defense. Lanky wing Aaron Gordon is the standout, helping the Magic execute their scheme of walling off the paint. The Magic only allow 31.3 percent of opponent shots to come at the rim, putting them in 89th percentile in the league, per Cleaning The Glass.

Following a post-break loss to Dallas Mavericks, the Magic sit at 24-32 and three games up on the ninth-seeded Wizards. While a three-game margin doesn’t sound like much, that is a sizable cushion with only 26 games to play. Basketball-Reference gives the Magic a 97.4 percent chance to make the playoffs.

The Magic have the third-easiest remaining schedule out of Eastern Conference teams. They have very winnable games coming against the Bulls, Hornets, Cavaliers, Knicks and Pistons. They also have multiple games coming against the Brooklyn Nets, the team they trail by only 1.5 games for the seventh seed.

The Magic are prone, however, to dropping games against the league’s bottom-feeders. It can be difficult to string together wins with an offense this sluggish. The Markelle Fultz experiment has added some spark in that department, but his lack of an outside shot still leaves the floor cramped.

After a quick analysis of the schedule, the most likely scenario appears to be a 12-14 record over the last 26 games, putting the Magic at 36-46 come season’s end. A record like that should not be allowed anywhere near playoff basketball, but it would probably be enough to meet the Bucks in round one.

If the Magic go 12-14, that would leave the Wizards, fresh off a loss to J.B. Bickerstaff and the Cleveland Cavaliers, needing to go 17-11 over their last 28 games. They will need to finish one game ahead as the Magic hold the head-to-head tiebreaker.

The Wizards finishing that strong becomes even more farfetched when you consider their remaining schedule. They have the second-toughest slate from here on out, per Basketball-Reference.

The Wizards do have a trump card in Bradley Beal, who is the best player among the bubble teams in the East. He has now scored 25 points or more in 13 straight games and has been the driving force behind the Wizards staying in the race.

He has also picked up his defense a bit following his All-Star snub in an effort to silence his critics. The increased focus on that end is nice, but it would’ve been a little nicer if it had been a part of his game earlier in this season when the Wizards were by far the worst defense in the league.

Even if Beal goes bonkers, it is hard to see a path for this Wizards team to sneak in outside of a monumental collapse in Orlando. Looking at their schedule, it would take some big upsets to even get to 10 wins over their last 28. Their most likely record to finish the season is 8-20 if all games go to the likely favorites.

The Wizards’ offense has been impressive all season, but injuries and a porous defense have been too much to overcome.

The Hornets, meanwhile, trail the Wizards by 1.5 games and the Magic by 4.5 games. They have won their last three in a row to put themselves back in this race, but they still have an uphill climb.

The Hornets also may have raised the proverbial white flag by waiving two veterans in Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. The goal coming into this season was never to make the playoffs, so they are likely more interested in developing young talent over these last 27 games.

If the Magic do play up to their usual levels and go 12-14, it would require the Hornets to go 18-9 to finish the season against the sixth-toughest remaining schedule in the East.

Devonte’ Graham and his three-point shooting have been a bright spot for the Hornets, but it would take some otherworldly performances from him and Terry Rozier down the stretch to put together a record like that. Basketball-Reference gives this a 0.02 percent chance of happening (cue the Jim Carrey GIF).

Barring a miracle, the eight playoff teams in the Eastern Conference are locked in place. The only questions remaining are how seeds 2-6 will play out, and whether the Magic can catch the Nets for the seventh spot.

The Wizards will fight to the end, but it is unlikely they make up any ground given the level of opponents they will see over the next six weeks. The Hornets, meanwhile, are more likely to fight for lottery odds.

At least the playoffs should be exciting.

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The Pressure Is On Anthony Davis

The Rockets’ and Clippers’ strong commitments to small-ball show that the Lakers’ opponents are zeroed in on stopping LeBron James. If the Lakers want their next title, Anthony Davis has to prove he can take over for a contender. Matt John writes.

Matt John



LeBron James is the greatest basketball player of his generation and arguably of all-time. No matter how old he is or how many miles he has on those tires — 48,014 minutes total as of Feb. 20, good for eighth-most all-time among NBA players =- he is not to be underestimated. The Los Angeles Lakers know they have a window on their hands, but with LeBron on the wrong side of 30, they know that this window won’t be for too long. Unfortunately, so do their opponents.

This brings us to his partner-in-crime, Anthony Davis. Throughout LeBron’s era of dominance, he’s always had a Robin to his Batman. Dwyane Wade needed time to adjust to it. Kyrie Irving was so perfect for the role that he grew tired of it. Anthony Davis has embraced it since day one.

LeBron and AD have been as good as advertised. Together, the two of them possess a net rating of plus-10.3 when they share the court. They don’t actually run the pick and roll as often as we thought they would – LeBron only runs 26 percent of his plays as a handler while Davis has been the roll man for 13 percent of his plays – but when they do, it’s efficient.

LeBron’s effective field goal percentage as a pick-and-roll handler is 47.5 percent and draws and-1’s at 3.5 percent, which is pretty high for that sort of play. He ranks in the 67th percentile as a handler. Davis’ effective field goal percentage as a roll man is 61 percent and draws and-1’s at 4.9 percent. He ranks in the 72nd percentile as a roll man.

They may not run this in LA primarily because their old school play of playing big probably eats up the spacing. Since the Lakers have the fourth-highest offensive rating in the league, scoring 113.6 points per 100 possessions, it’s not a problem at the moment. This might change in the playoffs, but we’ll get to that.

Something else to note is that Davis’ numbers have stayed relatively the same since going from New Orleans to LA. His scoring average has gone down just a tick, but that’s to be expected when you’re playing next to LeBron James. Davis’ rebounding numbers have taken a more noticeable dip, but having him play next to Dwight Howard or JaVale McGee probably has something to do with that.

He and LeBron have led the Lakers to the best record in the Western Conference. According to Tankathon, they have the 10th-easiest schedule for the rest of the season, so the odds are in their favor of finishing out on top. Of course, their elite production as a duo is about as shocking as Martin Scorsese’s movies getting nominated for Oscars.

The Lakers are expected to make their deepest run since the last time they won the title in 2010. Even if they are among the league’s biggest powerhouses, they’ll have plenty of competition along the way in the Western Conference. Without going into too much detail about who that is — because you probably already know who that is — let’s focus on the two competitors who have been making major shakeups since the trade deadline, the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Clippers.

Both may have executed different trades, but both had the same goal in mind when they made them.

When the Rockets traded Clint Capela — their only traditional center that was playable — for Robert Covington, a two-way wing that they believed they could mold into a small-ball five, they traded their size for switchability and versatility. Not only that, they doubled down on their strategy by bringing in the likes of DeMarre Caroll and Jeff Green, two swingmen who have played some minutes at center in their career but very, very few.

When the Clippers traded Moe Harkless — who was doing just fine for them as their third wing — they opted to go for an upgrade at the wing spot instead of another big by trading him among others and a first-round pick for what’s likely to be a short rental of Marcus Morris. They could have used Harkless to get another big to combat the Lakers’ size, but instead opted to add more grit to the wing department. The deal also opened up a few more spots on the roster, but they too opted not for more size, but for another scorer in Reggie Jackson.

Acquiring those wings demonstrates that they have coined the exact same gameplan to taking down the Lakers should they face them in the playoff — slowing down LeBron James.

Slowing down LeBron is a strategy that just about everyone has been familiar with since 2003, but very few have been successful at executing it because, well, there doesn’t really need to be an explanation when it comes to the subject of LeBron James.

By doing everything in their power to make LeBron’s life miserable, they are in effect going to dare everyone else on the Lakers to beat them, and that starts with Anthony Davis.

We know how good Anthony Davis is, but we don’t really know how good he’s going to be when the stakes are higher. Davis’ numbers in the playoffs should hardly concern the Lakers’ faithful. He’s averaged 30.5 points and 12.7 points on nearly 53 percent shooting from the field. The one number that could be concerning is that those averages come from only 13 playoff games total.

Davis is hardly to blame for the lack of playoff success in his name. Injuries ravaged the Pelicans continuously, and the best players he’s played with in the postseason are Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and Rajon Rondo. The numbers suggest he carries his weight.

He should have less weight to carry when and if the Lakers enter the playoffs, but because their competitors are doubling down on their small ball to make sure LeBron’s covered as tightly as possible, the pressure will be on Davis to keep it going.

Posting up against small lineups shouldn’t be an issue for Davis because he’s been efficient on post-ups this season. On a frequency of 22.8 percent, Davis has a points per possession (PPP) of 0.95 when posting up. Davis is averaging five points while shooting 47.8 percent from the field in the post up throughout the entire season. His efficiency in the post up ranks him in the 63rd percentile. He’s not Joel Embiid or even LaMarcus Aldridge in that area, but he’s reliable.

Still, time will tell to see if it translates in the playoffs. In the Lakers’ most recent game against the Rockets, we got our first sample of how LA will fare against Houston’s new scheme. LeBron struggled with it, putting up just 18 points on 8-for-19 shooting while turning it over six times. The switchability and intelligence that their defenders possessed made life difficult for him.

It was a different story for Davis. He had an excellent game. 32 points on 14-of-21 shooting, 13 rebounds and 3 blocks because he dominated the very undersized center Houston threw at him. Despite that, the Rockets prevailed 121-111.

They were more than happy to let Davis dominate them as long as they took LeBron out of his comfort zone, and it worked. Games like that should make you want to keep your eye on this. Teams know that LeBron James is a nuclear weapon during the NBA playoffs. They have yet to see if Anthony Davis can be the same. If he can’t pick up the slack when LeBron is off his game, then that changes the ballgame.

Davis is an elite player. He has done a lot in his NBA career. He hasn’t had the opportunity to show that he can take over for a contender when the stakes are dialed to 11. When the playoffs arrive, we’ll finally see what he can do.

There shouldn’t be much doubt as to if Davis can do this. There should be much pressure as to if he’ll be able to do enough.

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NBA Daily: Picking Up The Pieces In Portland

The Portland Trail Blazers continue to fight for their playoff lives. Damian Lillard’s recent injury is just another obstacle that this team must hurdle to survive. Chad Smith looks at one player that may be emerging off of their bench just when they need it most.

Chad Smith



The home stretch has begun, and most teams around the league are pushing for a better playoff seed.

The postseason begins in less than two months and many teams are just hoping that they are able to be part of it. That is the case in Portland, where the Trail Blazers find themselves on the outside looking in as they trail the Memphis Grizzlies by 3.5 games for the final spot in the West. They also have four teams right behind them that are hungry for playoff basketball.

The story of the 2019-20 Blazers has been injuries. It began last season when they lost their starting center Jusuf Nurkic to a devastating leg injury that he has still not fully recovered from. Zach Collins was more than ready to fill in, but he suffered a shoulder injury in their third game of the season and has been out since having surgery on it. The organization made a Hail Mary trade for Hassan Whiteside, who has actually played very well for them this season.

Rodney Hood had been a staple for Portland since they acquired him, but he was lost to a season-ending injury earlier in the year. Desperation may have ultimately led them to sign Carmelo Anthony, but he has undoubtedly been a positive addition to the club. The trade Portland made with the Sacramento Kings was thought to have just been a cost-saving move, but Trevor Ariza has been an excellent fit with the first unit.

The latest setback came in their final game before the break when the face of the franchise suffered a groin injury. Damian Lillard has been having an MVP-worthy season, on the heels of what was one of the greatest playoff buzzer-beaters in league history. Fortunately, the injury was deemed mild, and he should only miss a few games. It may be cliché, but it has been the moniker for Portland all season: Next man up.

Early in the season, it appeared as though their 2018 first-round pick Anfernee Simons was going to have a breakout year. After putting up strong numbers in the first couple of months, he was seen as a highly sought after trade target. Simons has cooled off considerably since then, and it has been the play of their other second-year guard, Gary Trent Jr., that has turned some heads.

Appearing in just 15 games as a rookie last season, Trent Jr. has had more opportunities to show what he can do this year. Amid all of the injuries and movement in Portland, he has shown the ability to hit shots and defend. The sophomore swingman just turned 21 last month, but he has the maturity and understanding of a player with more experience.

A large part of that can be attributed to his father, Gary Trent, who was traded to the Blazers after being selected 11th overall in the 1995 draft. While he didn’t turn out to be an All-Star player, he did play for nine seasons and appeared in more than 500 games. His son may not end up being a star, but they both know this is an excellent opportunity for him to showcase his talents.

The former Duke product began his rise in the middle of January after putting up 30 points against the Oklahoma City Thunder, followed by another 20 points against the Dallas Mavericks. He didn’t slow down in the final handful of games before the All-Star break, either. He scored double-digits in four consecutive games against tough competition in Denver, San Antonio, Utah and Miami, where he shot 65 percent (20-for-31) from deep. Those final two games were against elite defenses, in which he put up 38 points while shooting 7-for-15 from downtown.

So far in the month of February, Trent Jr. has shot 48 percent from the floor, 45 percent from three-point range, and is averaging 12 points and 1.4 steals per game. Those are all solid numbers for a third-string guard, but now he will be relied upon more heavily in the absence of Lillard.

It will be interesting to see the adjustments that Terry Stotts makes without his superstar point guard on the floor. CJ McCollum will likely have a higher usage and handle the ball more than he has before. The Blazers struggle mightily with shot creation. While the veteran two-guard will be looked upon to provide play-making for this group, it will be up to guys like Trent Jr. to knock down open shots and make the correct reads and rotations on defense.

Stotts appears to be leaning on Trent Jr. more often — and for good reason. Both he and Simons played in all 15 games in January, with Simons averaging about one more minute per game. Trent shot 39 percent from deep compared to Simons’ 23 percent. What Stotts really likes is how Trent Jr takes care of the ball. In those 15 January games, he had just four total turnovers. He also played 36 minutes in one of those games and finished without a single turnover.

As good as Whiteside has been at protecting the rim, Portland remains one of the worst defensive teams in the league. It ranks 26th in opponent scoring and has the 27th-ranked defensive rating. Trent Jr. is much bigger than the aforementioned Simons. He is actually bigger than McCollum and Lillard. The size and length that he possesses allow him to guard multiple positions and really help create deflections.

In his role as an off-ball scorer, Trent Jr. just fits really well alongside the Blazer backcourt. Even when one of them is out, he has found a way to excel. Over his last 15 games, he is averaging 12.5 points per game on 44.2 percent shooting from three-point range. They may need Trent Jr. to steal some minutes from the McCollum and Lillard, as they both rank among the top 12 in minutes per game.

Easing all of these injured players back into the rotation is going to be tricky. There will be some bumps and some hiccups along the way, but time is simply not on their side. They have just 26 games remaining, and several teams are fighting for that same spot. The good news for Portland is that only four teams have an easier remaining schedule.

A healthy Portland team is a dangerous playoff team. Getting Lillard back is paramount, but getting Nurkic and Collins back into the rotation with Carmelo and Whiteside would be monumental for this group.

A potential first-round matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers would be tantalizing, to say the least. It will take some work for this team to get back into the playoffs, but then again, they have never backed down from a challenge.

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