Blazers' Ayton-Henderson Era: A Building Phase Ahead

Trail Blazers chart a fresh course under Cronin's leadership

by Faizan Chaudhary
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Blazers' Ayton-Henderson Era: A Building Phase Ahead
© Steph Chambers/GettyImages

As NBA fans eagerly await the return of basketball on Oct. 24, there's an electrifying energy in the air. While the anticipation builds, we're serving up 24 of the h*ttest storylines to look out for in the 2023-24 NBA season.

Ticking down our list, we've reached No. 14. Introducing the dawn of a new age for the Portland Trail Blazers: Deandre Ayton and rookie sensation, Scoot Henderson. This fresh pairing symbolizes Portland's bid to reshape their identity post the seismic Damian Lillard trade to Milwaukee.

Cronin's Bold Vision

Kudos are in order for Blazers' general manager, Joe Cronin. Steering the ship away from "Dame Time", Cronin emphasized that the franchise was operating on "Cronin Time". It's clear that his bold move in trading Lillard was meticulously crafted to bolster the Blazers while also being considerate of Lillard’s trajectory.

Indeed, while Lillard’s trade might have come as a shock to many, it's undeniable that Cronin’s vision is looking out for the greater good of the team. With this new ensemble of young talent, including Scoot Henderson, Deandre Ayton, Robert Williams III, Shaedon Sharpe, and Anfernee Simons, the Blazers have a promising foundation.

Their sheer size, especially the dynamic duo of Williams and Ayton, is likely to pose challenges for adversaries on the court. However, the reality remains that the NBA is a seasoned league. Despite their raw talent, these young stars must go through the rites of passage, forging connections and building team chemistry.

Historical data begs the question: When was the last youthful core without an All-Star making a significant impact? And while Henderson boasts incredible potential as a point guard, it's pivotal to remember the steep learning curve of the NBA.

With the Western Conference as cutthroat as ever, there’s no room for complacency. The Blazers, having made a strategic trade, may have secured a short-term victory, but the real triumph? That's a vision set for the morrows to come.

Trail Blazers
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