Okay, maybe the title is a bit premature, considering the NBA season started a couple weeks ago, but the Blazers (8-3) are looking pretty good thus far. With wins over teams likes the Lakers, Spurs, and the Mavericks, the Blazers are on track for a standout season. However, while they have yet to play powerhouse teams, there is no doubt Portland has something to prove, especially with how last season ended—a sweep by the New Orleans Pelicans in the first round of the playoffs.
Everything seemed okay last season—the Blazers went 49-33 and finished 3rd in the Western Conference. So how did it all go south? Unable to stop Anthony Davis or Jrue Holiday, the Blazers fell to the Pelicans in four games. This result was surprising, considering the Blazers are more of a defensive team (8th overall defense last year) yet they were outplayed singlehandedly by The Brow, who scored over 30 points every game of the series. However, this sweep has made the Blazers extra hungry this season, and I am sure we are in for a show.
Damian Lillard. By now, if you do not know of him, then you do not know the NBA. Named 2012’s Rookie of the Year unanimously and leading the Blazers to the playoffs multiple times, Lillard has made a name for himself. While Lillard’s achievements have been under-appreciated throughout his career, that is another article for another day. Averaging 26.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game, Lillard is having another remarkable season. The real thing we should be questioning is when the next rap album is coming out, Dame D.O.L.L.A.?
While Lillard puts on a show every time he steps on the court, let us not forget the rest of the team. Center Jusuf Nurkic has been killing it on the boards, and his scoring ability is overlooked. Currently, The Bosnian Beast averages 15 points and 9.9 rebounds per game In addition to Nurkic, who can forget 2015-2016’s Most Improved Player, CJ McCollum, who’s averaging 20 points per game? McCollum went off last night against the Milwaukee Bucks, scoring 40 points and sending guard Donte DiVincenzo flying after his deadly crossover. The Blazers’ bench has been making the headlines recently and it is not for vain—they’re really making plays. But will they be able to keep it up?
Once again, 11 games into an NBA season is the same as an NFL team going undefeated during the preseason—it gets us hyped, but it’s not everything. The real test comes during the second half of the season with the playoffs nearby. The Blazers have looked sharp thus far and have a lot to look forward to. But will Portland be able to keep up in the Western Conference? I certainly hope so because right now, the West is where the real competition lies it will be interesting to see how the Blazers combat the pressure.
All stats courtesy of https://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/POR/2019.html
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons