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Trail Blazers’ 3 Biggest disappointments, 3 Most pleasant surprises of 2023-24 season

The Portland Trail Blazers won 21 games this season. That would qualify as a disappointment. But that means the third (or fourth) best odds at landing the No. 1 pick in the 2024 draft. That’s a pleasant consequence.

Deandre Ayton missed a game because he couldn’t get out of his driveway in an ice storm. Disappointing. He had five 30-point double-doubles in the final month of the season. Delightful.

That’s the way the season went for Portland. There were some downs followed by some ups followed by some more downs followed by some more ups. Here are the most severe disappointments and the most enjoyable developments of the year for Rip City.

The Dalano Banton trade

Portland General Manager Joe Cronin had some options at February’s trade deadline. There were some veterans ripe for contenders’ picking, including Malcolm Brogdon, Jerami Grant and Matisse Thybulle. Cronin could have added to the Blazers’ asset cupboard by dealing any or all of them for future draft picks or young players.

Instead, he held onto everyone and made one seemingly insignificant move, taking Dalano Banton off Boston’s hands in exchange for a future top-55 protected second-round pick.

Banton arrived in Portland as a player with tantalizing physical attributes, but one who had yet to carve out a role in the NBA. He ended the season as a potential piece of the franchise’s future after averaging 16.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 29.2 minutes across 30 games.

Is the 24-year-old’s sudden rise legitimate or is he simply a product of unlimited opportunities and no consequences on a tanking team? It will only cost the Blazers a $2.2 million team option to find out, which seems worth the risk.

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