Oct 7, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Evan Turner (1) fights off Phoenix Suns forward T.J. Warren (12) in the second half at Moda Center at the Rose Quarter. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports
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What should the Blazers do about the starting lineup now that Evan Turner is injured?
Evan Turner went down against Dallas with an unfortunate hand injury. With a broken hand, the Ohio State alum and large contract holder will be sidelined up to six weeks.
This puts the Blazers in an awkward position, as Turner’s elevated play had earned him a spot as a starter. His playmaking and ability to find open players seemed to breathe some life into a disappointing season.
However, the show must go on, and we present the three players that should receive more playing time with Turner sidelined.
Apr 25, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Allen Crabbe (23) shoots over Los Angeles Clippers in game four of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Moda Center at the Rose Quarter. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports
I think Allen Crabbe is making too much money to be on the bench. He is averaging 10.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.3 rebounds a game and is shooting 42.7% from three.
Crabbe gives the Blazers a very good shooter on the wing and is shooting 44% on catch and shoots this season. He also plays decent defense and with his long arms and can deflect and contest from taller players.
Last year in eight starts, Crabbe put up 15.9 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists and shot 39% from three and I think Crabbe works well with either Ed Davis or Maurice Harkless at the four.
Crabbe now gets a chance to prove himself worthy of a big contract. Regardless if Crabbe starts, he will be asked to step his game up with Turner out.
Mar 17, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; Portland Trail Blazers center Ed Davis (17) shoots the ball as San Antonio Spurs power forward Tim Duncan (21) defends during the second half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Ed Davis is bigger and better than Noah Vonleh. He will rebound and bang down low while providing some good rim protection.
Davis is a talented player and should be playing more for Portland. He’s averaging just four points and five rebounds but only playing about 17 minutes a game.
This could be the time for Davis to get more minutes and start showing what he can do for this team. The only issue would be floor spacing with both Mason Plumlee and Davis on floor. But Plumlee can move to more of a forward role and still excel with his ball handling ability. Davis can work to grab a lot of offensive rebounds and create open looks with his screens.
Apr 23, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless (4) dunks over Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford (11) in the second half in game three of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Moda Center at the Rose Quarter. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports
Harkless got derailed by an injury this season and lost his starting job. He now gets a chance to get it back.
On the year he is averaging 10.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1.1 steals a game. He is shooting 33 % from 3 on the year and 47% FG%
He’s a good defender and can guard the best back court player. Although Harkless can;t create his own shot like Turner, he is a better catch and shooter. That’s clutch for all of the incoming double teams on Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.
He can play the 4 and score in the paint by quickly cutting to the basket for backdoor passes. His shooting ability makes his defender play honest, opening up the lane. Harkless should be a starter, regardless if it’s the 3 or the 4. He’s having his best year as a pro and should look to get back on track now that he will be asked to do more.
May 3, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Portland Trail Blazers forward Al-Farouq Aminu (8) shoots the basketball against Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala (9) during the second quarter in game two of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Al-Farouq Aminu should continue to be an energy player coming off the bench. He’s the best defender on the team and can occasionally get his shot going. Unfortunately, that lack of offense will keep him out of the starting lineup.
With the injury to Turner, Terry Stotts could use Shabazz Napier more. He can handle the ball and run the offense while Dame or CJ work off ball. Rookie Jake Layman is currently in the D-League but now with a player down, I would not be surprised if he is called up to add some wing depth.
The Blazers have good depth and have been experimenting with lineups all year. Can they find a new one that works this time? Let us know your thoughts, and who you think should be in the starting lineup.