PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Portland Trail Blazers have announced their starting lineup for the 2023-2024 season opener against the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday night.
The team will start the season without Damian Lillard for the first time in more than a decade after dealing the all-star guard to the Milwaukee Bucks in September. Following the trade, the Blazers’ starting lineup will feature a mix of new and returning players.
Point Guard: Scoot Henderson
The third overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft showed promise in the preseason, averaging 13.5 points and 5.8 assists per game while shooting 41.7% from the field and 90% from the free-throw line. As a result, Henderson will immediately step into the starting point guard position to start the season.
Shooting guard: Anfernee Simons
The Blazers’ baby-faced, first-round pick from 2018 is all grown up and will lead the team as the longest tenured Blazer.
Small Forward: Matisse Thybulle
Matisse Thybulle is somewhat of a familiar face in Portland after playing 22 games for the Blazers in 2023 following a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers. The fifth-year player from the University of Washington is a defensive specialist, earning NBA All-Defensive Second Team honors in 2022.
Power Forward: Jerami Grant
The Blazers signed Grant to a 5-year, $160 million deal over the summer after he averaged 20.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.3 three-pointers per game while playing 63 games for the Blazers in 2023.
Center: Deandre Ayton
Portland’s new 7-footer was one of the biggest trading pieces in the three-team deal that sent Lillard to the Bucks. Ayton was the number one overall pick in 2018 and averaged 16.7 points, 10.4 rebounds and one block per game during his five-year run with the Phoenix Suns.
Top-off against the Clippers begins at 7:30 p.m.
After starting the season on the road, the Blazers will play their first home game on Oct. 27 against the Orlando Magic. For those interested in NBA drama, Lillard is scheduled to make his first return to the Moda Center on Jan. 31, when the Blazers take on the Bucks at home.