Skip to content

Trail Blazers headed toward same trouble as last season

Nov 18, 2013, 10:15 AM EST

Terry Stotts, Damian Lillard

I was the only member of this site’s staff to predict the Trail Blazers would make the playoffs. Now, Portland is 8-2, the NBA’s third-best record behind only the Spurs and Pacers.

Time to gloat?

Not quite.

The Trail Blazers started 20-15 last season, heavily relying on their starting lineup. At that point of the season, Portland’s starters played 72 percent of the team’s minutes, tops in the league. That heavy load proved too taxing, as the Trail Blazers faded to a 33-49 finish.

A year later, the starters have changed, but Portland coach Terry Stotts is using the same strategy. Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge and Robin Lopez – the Trail Blazers’ starters in all 10 games – have played 72 percent of the team’s minutes, again No. 1 in the NBA.

image

Announcement: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $15,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Monday night’s games. It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts at 7:30pm ET. Here’s the link.

There are encouraging signs for the Trail Blazers, though.

Mo Williams, acquired as a free agent this summer, has played much more (26.9 minutes per game) than any Portland reserve did last season. Dorell Wright (14.4 minutes per game) has shot well and could probably handle more minutes. Thomas Robinson has shown flashes, and maybe he could fill a bigger role, too. C.J. McCollum has been injured, but later in the season, perhaps he carves out a spot in the rotation.

And maybe after doing it last year, Lillard, Matthews, Batum and Aldridge are more equipped to handle big minutes.

It would be extremely presumptuous to assume the Trail Blazers will fade like last season. But, once again, they’re going to have to deal with their starters playing a ton of minutes.

It’s not an insurmountable challenge, but it’s a challenge they didn’t meet last year.

  1. babsports - Nov 18, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    “It would be extremely presumptuous to assume the Trail Blazers will fade like last season. But, once again, they’re going to have to deal with their starters playing a ton of minutes.”

    When the Blazers were 20-15 last season, their OffRtg was 102.3 (13th in the league) and their DefRtg was 104.3 (23rd) for a NetRtg of -2.0 (19th). Their point differential was -1.4.

    As of today, their OffRtg is 107.2 (3rd), their DefRtg is 102.8 (16th) and their NetRtg is 4.4 (7th). Their W-L record is 8-2 and their point differential is +4.9 (7th).

    Their 20-15 record (prorates to 45-37 full season) in early January during last season was a mirage. This season, the Blazers look as if they’re for real. Unfortunately they play in a tough division. I don’t think they will finish with a better W-L record than the T-Wolves and Thunder, but I would be shocked if they weren’t a playoff team.

  2. harshedmellow - Nov 18, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    We Blazer fans have been so snake-bit that we are a little skeptical- when’s the next career-ender to a franchise player?- but if this fan base gets energized and believing again, it’ll really get the Rose Garden rockin’….. and that’ll be worth a few wins.

    The PNW is starved for teams to get behind. Go Blazers! Go Ducks!

  3. grcarlson12 - Nov 18, 2013 at 2:45 PM

    You may be right. The main problem with last years team was that the bench was the worst in the league. You could count on losing ground when you put them in. If this years bench doesn’t develop we could be in trouble.

    It is important to note that Stotts basically sat the starters for the last maybe 20 games and let the bench play us into a better draft position. Now that may have been because the starters were worn out. Or just maybe we were tanking. No way to know.

  4. shen90 - Nov 18, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    Last year we had a negative point differential while 20-15. That was a sign we would fall. Bench might have played little less last year but they contributed nowhere near what this bench does. Last year when bench came in we never scored and went completely flat, this year we have energy and scoring and defense. This is not same team as last year and is not headed for the same issues. This is a 50+ win team. We are not even at full capacity with our players thanks to CJ, once he gets back we will only get better and start thinking about HCA.

    • babsports - Nov 18, 2013 at 5:41 PM

      “It would be extremely presumptuous to assume the Trail Blazers will fade like last season. But, once again, they’re going to have to deal with their starters playing a ton of minutes.”

      When the Blazers were 20-15 last season, their OffRtg was 102.3 (13th in the league) and their DefRtg was 104.3 (23rd) for a NetRtg of -2.0 (19th). Their point differential was -1.4.

      As of today, their OffRtg is 107.2 (3rd), their DefRtg is 102.8 (16th) and their NetRtg is 4.4 (7th). Their W-L record is 8-2 and their point differential is +4.9 (7th).

      Their 20-15 record (prorates to 45-37 full season) in early January during last season was a mirage. This season, the Blazers look as if they’re for real. Unfortunately they play in a tough division. I don’t think they will finish with a better W-L record than the T-Wolves and Thunder, but I would be shocked if they weren’t a playoff team.

  5. eugenesaxe1 - Nov 18, 2013 at 7:34 PM

    The early schedule’s been pretty cake so far, nobody expects us to play this well all year. The defense, while improved, still sucks. Mo can shoot you into wins, and shoot you into losses. TRob is still extremely raw and limited, but has shown he can do what he can do very well. And you didn’t mention Freeland. Last year we would’ve traded him for a packet of crisps; this year he actually belongs on an NBA court.

  6. homergreenz - Nov 19, 2013 at 6:03 AM

    “It would be extremely presumptuous to assume the Trail Blazers will fade like last season. But, once again, they’re going to have to deal with their starters playing a ton of minutes.”

    When the Blazers were 20-15 last season, their OffRtg was 102.3 (13th in the league) and their DefRtg was 104.3 (23rd) for a NetRtg of -2.0 (19th). Their point differential was -1.4.

    As of today, their OffRtg is 107.2 (3rd), their DefRtg is 102.8 (16th) and their NetRtg is 4.4 (7th). Their W-L record is 8-2 and their point differential is +4.9 (7th).

    Their 20-15 record (prorates to 45-37 full season) in early January during last season was a mirage. This season, the Blazers look as if they’re for real. Unfortunately they play in a tough division. I don’t think they will finish with a better W-L record than the T-Wolves and Thunder, but I would be shocked if they weren’t a playoff team.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

Who will land Josh Smith?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Durant (8643)
  2. K. Martin (6643)
  3. K. Bryant (6512)
  4. K. Leonard (6384)
  5. C. Bosh (6238)
  1. D. Williams (6079)
  2. T. Jones (5967)
  3. D. Rose (5880)
  4. T. Parker (5762)
  5. J. Smith (5628)