The 2023-24 NBA season is a case of what might have been for the Portland Trail Blazers, with Damian Lillard traded away for the first time in a decade and Jrue Holiday, briefly at least, on the books before he too headed for pastures new.
It has left a void of quality on court that has seen the franchise struggle in the early going of the campaign, but one player that is stepping up to the plate in the absence of those star names is former Syracuse Orange star Jerami Grant.
The 29-year-old is rekindling the kind of form that saw him selected for the 2020 Olympic team, where he became an instant Syracuse hall-of-famer after securing a gold medal in Tokyo.
But how far can he carry the Trail Blazers on his shoulders?
Those who enjoy sports betting in Canada, North America or across the world have access to a range of NBA odds with the leading sportsbooks. These can be ranked upon the quality of their website/app, the depth of their betting markets, their ‘added extras’ such as live streaming, but the key is that each bookmaker has a comprehensive NBA wagering channel for their customers to enjoy.
But no matter which sportsbook bettors in New York, the United States, and around the world frequent, few will be taking the +50000 odds available on Portland winning the Western Conference right now.
After 32 rounds of games, their 9-23 record does not exactly scream postseason candidate, with December’s run of three wins and ten defeats delivering a hammer blow to their playoff credentials.
But the performances of Grant and his teammate Anfernee Simons suggest all is not lost. Simons suffered a serious thumb injury in October that has since waylaid his season, but Grant has been shouldering some of the point-scoring burden in his absence – averaging 22.1 PPG, which sees him rank inside the NBA’s most prolific players.
It’s a marked return to form for the former Orange ace, and with Simons also set to return after injury and illness finally Portland have reasons to be cheerful. But will it be enough for them to get their season back on track?
Swider Stepping Up
It’s been a frustrating start to life as a professional basketball for another former Syracuse Orange grad, Cole Swider.
He was drafted to a two-way contract with the LA Lakers and the South Bay Lakers in 2022 – sadly for him, Swider spent more time with the G-League outfit than in the NBA.
A switch to the Miami Heat during the offseason has given the 24-year-old a renewed sense of purpose, and despite again spending much of his time in the G-League with Sioux Falls Skyforce, eye-catching displays there have since seen him elevated to Miami’s main roster.
He enjoyed some minutes on court against the Warriors and the Clippers, landing a sweet three-pointer against the latter, with reports suggesting that many in the Heat camp have been impressed by Swider’s brief appearances with the main roster so far.
Could Syracuse be about to have another seasoned NBA pro amongst its alumni?