Trail Blazin’ Their Way to the Lottery
Prior to the season if you had made the statement that you need a deep supporting cast to advance deep into the playoffs, not many would disagree with you. Unless you have LeBron James, which by calculations, only 1 out of the 30 teams in the NBA has; or are the Warriors whose starting 5 houses 4 top-15 players in the league (JAVALE MCGEE!), then you are going to need to rely on your bench a little more to help you slog through the grind of the postseason.
If you’re the Clippers, it doesn’t matter what you do because you’re cursed. (Half-kidding on this one, I’m starting to run out of reasons for why the Clippers look like my church basketball team in the playoffs).
If you’re the Spurs, you continue unearthing international/late-round gems/under-utliized role players/ring-chasing; er, veterans to hope to knock out Golden State.
If you’re the Thunder you hope Doug McBuckets makes three buckets in a row and goes NBA Jam mode if you want any shot of upsetting a certain former-MVP that has had his way with you every time you’ve played with him….and that’s not even looking at those other guys’ numbers in the season series.
The Trail Blazers had a similar idea like those aforementioned teams by re-signing guys like Meyers Leonard, Allen Crabbe, Mo Harkless; and taking a swing on former Warriors big man Festus Ezeli. They also signed the former No. 2 overall pick, but he’s sidelined with a hand injury. What has it gotten them? Trading soon-to-be RFA Mason Plumlee for the now two-teeth-less Jusuf Nurkic and a 24-34 record.
Lillard is top-10 in usage% at 30.8 and is averaging 25.9 PPG while still taking 3’s from Steph Curry range. Sadly, he has one of the worst defensive backcourt partners in McCollum (albeit one of the most offensively talented duos in the league). Al-Farouq Aminu is still frustratingly perplexing, Mo Harkless is still finding his shot after being shunned to a stupidly low minutes average in Orlando, oh and Nurkic has only played in three games for Portland and is their 4th-leading scorer.
Their 7th leading scorer is the guy sidelined with an injury, and their 12th (!!) is the guy they traded Nicolas Batum and Gerald Henderson for. Add it all up and you have a lottery pick. (Sorry Portland fans, I don’t see the postseason in your future. Go watch highlights from last year).