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No team has a drop off like Portland when Lillard, Aldridge sit

Jan 3, 2013, 2:40 PM EDT

Damian Lillard, Pablo Prigioni AP

The first thing you should know about the +/- stat is that is says as much about the person who replaces a player as it does the player himself.

Which makes sense when you look at a fantastic bit of work by NBA.com’s John Schuhmann, a list of the NBA’s biggest difference makers — a statistical list of players whose teams have the most offensive drop off when they leave the court. It’s not just that these players are having good years, it’s that the guy replacing them is a huge step down. Like Kobe Bryant to Jodie Meeks down (hence Kobe makes Schuhmann’s list).

But the biggest drop off is in Portland — the Blazers offense is 13.3 points per 100 possessions better when Damian Lillard is on the floor, the highest number in the league. Fourth highest is LaMarcus Aldridge, the Blazers are 12.4 points per 100 better when he is on the floor. Schuhmann explains:

Breaking news: The Portland Trail Blazers have an awful, awful bench. Their starting lineup is good offensively, but not great, scoring 104.3 points per 100 possessions. They have lineups with three or four starters on the floor that are better. But they have no suitable back-ups for either Lillard or Aldridge. When both have been off the floor (just 127 minutes), Portland has scored less than 90 points per 100 possessions.

What they needed were guys like Jamal Crawford, except he’s with the Clippers and playing well after a terrible season last year in Portland. Same with Raymond Felton. It is maddening to Blazers fans to watch them succeed elsewhere this season.

Portland is building a team, right now they are a fringe playoff team (at 16-15 they are the eight seed as you reed this) but they are a long way from where they want to be. They have good players like Nicolas Batum and the energized J.J. Hickson, but they are a long way from competing with the best in the West. It’s a process. One that includes building a bench (if you don’t think the bench matters watch a Clippers game).

But with Lillard and Aldridge the Blazers have cornerstone guys to build around. They just have a lot of building to do, and the numbers show it.

  1. basketballhooper1 - Jan 3, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    Rookie of the Year right there

  2. misterchainbluelightning - Jan 3, 2013 at 2:59 PM

    No, the first thing you should know is that +/- is a flawed stat.

    Attributing a stat like +/- to individual players in a team sport is not scientific. If everything remained equal ie: Player A is swapped with Player B, while the rest of the players remain the same it works, but that is not reality, many times there are multiple changes on the floor and then the flaws in the stat begins.

    It’s not entirely useless, but to call it “plus-minus is the most important stat in basketball.” like the writer did to start his article only to say “But in basketball, with nine other guys on the floor affecting what each player does, plus-minus always needs context, and lots of it. Who is a guy playing his minutes with? Who is he not playing his minutes with?” is foolishness

    • loungefly74 - Jan 3, 2013 at 11:23 PM

      agree. its very subjective.

  3. biasedhomer - Jan 3, 2013 at 4:16 PM

    They have a really solid starting 5, Aldridge, Lillard, Hickson, Matthews, and Batum.

    But they have no one on the bench. Earlier in the season, they would be playing all of their starters for 38-40+ mins a game. Not one bench player with double digit minutes. They have started using the bench more often now, but it is pretty bad.

  4. saint1997 - Jan 3, 2013 at 6:07 PM

    As you ‘reed’ this?? Are you illiterate??

  5. sgtmofo - Jan 3, 2013 at 7:42 PM

    I was very impressed with Lillard in the against the Knicks. Superb body control with his jumper after being in full sprint while dribbling.

    As to the remark about former players having success elsewhere, maybe if Portland spent a little bit more on a better training and medical staff they could field a team worth watching all season.

  6. eugenesaxe - Jan 3, 2013 at 7:51 PM

    That’ll happen when you have no bench.
    0men has outperformed anyone’s expectations. LMA is LMA, turning out the numbers you expect from him.
    Any team would suffer when one of their top 2 guys goes down, but most teams at least have something to plug in. Portland literally doesn’t.

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