The Portland Trail Blazers are three games in to a four-game road trip but are off for the next few days. They pick things up again Friday in Phoenix against the Suns. I know that all of the losing and the fact that another team in town won a championship may be driving interest away from these guys. But I know that there are some die-hards out there, looking for some Blazers news and since I don’t have any today, here’s some of the best stuff I could find on the internet.
Mike Richman of The Oregonian wrote a nice feature on Allen Crabbe in the middle of his breakout season. After Tuesday’s game, Crabbe has scored in double-figures off the Blazers bench in four straight games. Through 23 games, Crabbe has already eclipsed his point total from the previous two seasons combined.
Casey Holdahl of TrailBlazers.com parsed through the NBA’s mountain of SportVU data to find out how the Blazers ranked in some of the fancier next-gen statistics. It turns out that Portland’s backcourt of CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard are in the top-six in the league in distance travelled. And on the offensive end, both are in the top-five in distance travelled. The latter should be a given considering there aren’t many backcourts that are asked to do as much as Portland’s duo are. There are lots of other stats to look at there that Holdahl looked at, which you should check out.
Jason Quick of CSN and CSNNW.com posits that the Blazers are the best losing team in the NBA and gets insight from players on how they’re dealing with losing games they’ve had in hand. I’ve always felt that 32 wins was their destiny, to sit historically alongside the last great losing team Portland had in 2012-13. But unlike that season, the bottom of the West is a complete crap shoot this year and nobody is stepping up to the plate for the No. 7 or No. 8 seed yet. Quick has some interesting nuggets from a couple of Blazers and also brings a nice reminder that the Blazers are $14 million below the league-mandated salary floor. The Blazers have the 8th best net-rating in the Western Conference, better than Memphis and Houston who are both currently in the playoff picture. According to Basketball-Reference, the Blazers expected win-loss record is 11-12. So when the Blazers talk about believing their record should be better, they’re not wrong.
Blazers head coach Terry Stotts made a nice gesture which came to light after Portland’s game in Milwaukee on Monday. Stotts made a donation to a Milwaukee-area organization that helps fight childhood cancer. Stotts coached in Milwaukee both as an assistant and as the man in charge for several seasons, but he’s also donated to the organization for several years. (Hat-tip to Joe Freeman of The Oregonian for the find).
Eric Griffith of Blazers Edge took a look at Mason Plumlee’s rim-protection. The Blazers haven’t exactly protected the rim and Plumlee himself has been exposed quite a bit in the pick and roll. But here Griffith takes a look at Plumlee’s athleticism and the potential he has to eventually be the anchor the Blazers defense needs.
Another episode of the Blazer Banter podcast is up on our blog, The Columbian’s SoundCloud page and iTunes.
Around the NBA
- Charlotte Hornets big man Al Jefferson was served a five-games suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. The five-game suspension, unofficially known in NBA circles as “the weed suspension,” brought about an interesting prediction from Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, one of the most plugged in reporters on the NBA labor front. Zillgitt’s prediction, which is more informed than most, suggests that testing for cannabis will not be included in the next collective bargaining agreement. Cannabis is of course legal in four states, including Washington and Oregon. Major League Baseball does not test players in the majors but does test in the minor leagues. If cannabis testing isn’t on the table for the players, such a hypocrisy for the D-League is something that the NBA should avoid. But it will likely get forgotten at the bargaining table among other things. This prediction comes on the heels of a joint announcement from the league and the NBPA that both sides are engaging in dialogue and will continue to do so.
- The Suns may be trading Markieff Morris and the Pelicans are a leading candidate to get the mercurial forward, according to Yahoo! Sports’ dynamic duo of Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania. There are two days until the Blazers take on the Suns. I wonder what the Vegas odds are that Morris is on the roster by tip-off Friday.
- A reddit user posted a mock-up of state flags inspired by NBA teams. Here is Oregon’s:
- Shameless self-promotion alert! I teamed up with Sean Highkin on the latest Bulls vs. Blazers NBA Podcast and gave out quarter-season awards.
- It’s also the 4-year anniversary of the Chris Paul trade veto! Bethlehem Shoals, creator of FreeDarko, wrote about it for Vice Sports.
- I would also be remiss if I didn’t share the latest online highlight column from my favorite basketball writer and CLARK COUNTY’S OWN Corbin Smith for Vice Sports.