The Portland Trail Blazers Are Here To Stay

Sean Meagher/The Oregonian

The Portland Trail Blazers Are Here To Stay


The Portland Trail Blazers Are Here To Stay


This new NBA season is still young but there have already been some major surprises around the league. One of the biggest has been the strong play of the Portland Trail Blazers thus far this season. The team currently sits with a 5-1 record on the season and has been playing some efficient ball. This includes a win over the Houston Rockets last time out without star point guard Damian Lillard, who has been sidelined for an injury.

This was a team that came into the year with fairly low expectations but have proven that maybe they can compete in the loaded Western Conference. For one, they have been more active on the defensive side of the ball. This has been something that has plagued Portland for years. They are disrupt passing lanes and are generating turnovers at a high rate. This is the kind of effort that is needed for success around the association.

Another reason for this teams success so far has been the contributions from their role players. Center Jusuf Nurkić has been great for Portland so far this year, averaging 13.5 points and 12.2 rebounds a game. Portland is an undersized team, but Nurkić has stepped up to give them rebounding and size. Two others that have really contributed are guard Anfernee Simons and forward Shaedon Sharpe. Simons really took a jump last season and has continued his growth as a strong option behind Lillard for this team. His ability to score the ball allows Lillard some space to breath. On the year, Simons is averaging 20.5 points per game on 42.9 percent shooting. He is also shooting over 37 percent from the three-point line, making him a problem for opposing defenses.

Sharpe, on the other hand has impressed many in his short time in the NBA. Head coach Chauncey Billups has even compared the rookie to former All-Stars Vince Carter and Brandon Roy. That is high praise for a player only a few games into his rookie season. But Sharpe has earned it and more. In the six games that he has played, he is averaging 9.3 points on 50 percent shooting. He is being noted as a fast learner and is quickly transforming himself into a strong rotational piece for this team. The number seven overall pick from this year’s draft even had teammate Lillard taking to Twitter to praise him.

The Trail Blazers revamped their roster around Lillard over the offseason, surrounding the guard with players who could shoot and play defense. The addition of forward Jerami Grant has proved effective of them as he provides length and the willingness to do the dirty work on defense. One of their bigger offseason signings in Gary Payton II, hasn’t even taken the court yet but is expected to make his debut in the coming weeks. Payton will provide them with another strong option at the guard spot and good complementary piece to the team once Lillard returns.

Before the season started, the biggest question was how Lillard would look coming off his injury from last year. It didn’t take long for Lillard to show that he was fully back as he was averaging 31 points per game on 49.5 percent shooting before his calf injury. He will be re-evaluated in a few weeks and if this team can remain competitive until their leader returns, then Portland could really surprise some this season. They don’t seem to be going away anytime soon so don’t be shocked if they do indeed reach the postseason.


More The Wright Way Network