This update is mainly a Hollinger stat update, with a few other tidbits thrown in. If someone else, like KP Corleone wants to do an 82games.com stat update, I would be interested in reading it. I'll start with Team stats.
Portland continues to plod along, playing the 2nd slowest pace in the league. San Antonio is slower. New York and Golden State are playing the fastest.
Portland is 2nd in the NBA in points scored per 100 possessions at 109.8, trailing only (surprisingly) the Cavs. The Lakers are third. The worst offensive teams so far have been Charlotte, the Clips, and (dead last) the Thunder. The median efficiency is 103.1. To me, this means that criticisms of Portland's offense (while some of them are valid and interesting) are missing the point. Offense is not our problem. Yes, I'm aware I have criticized our offense, notably in my True Shooting % fanpost. It now seems to me that I missed the point in that post, but hopefully people at least found it interesting.
Portland continues to struggle defensively. The Blazers have allowed 106.4 points/100 possessions, better only than Washington, New Jersey and (no shock here) Sacramento. The best defensive teams thus far have been the Lakers, Celtics, Magic, Rockets and Sixers. Where do the Blazers need to make improvements to jump from good team to great team? DEFENSE, DEFENSE, DEFENSE. Hopefully, Greg Oden can help here... but so far the indications that he's making a big difference are not there.
Looking a Bit Deeper at Offense- Why are the Blazers Having Success?
Offensive efficiency can come from 4 different areas: shooting a high percentage, getting a lot of offensive rebounds, not turning the ball over and getting to the foul line. In Portland's case it appears turnovers (or the lack thereof) have been key. Despite the high TOs the last few games, the Blazers still have the 2nd fewest turnovers per 100 possessions of any team. The Blazers also have the 3rd best offensive rebound rate (we have the 13th best defensive rebound rate-- rebounding has been a major area of improvement this year, but we can still do a better job keeping other teams off the offesnive glass). In terms of shooting the ball, the Blazers are doing more "living by the 3" than "dying by the 3.." The Blazers are 6th in effective field goal %, which takes the value of 3s into account. In True Shooting %, which takes FTs into account, Portland is 7th. It appears the Blazers have been above average in pretty much every area of offensive basketball.
Hollinger Player Stats
A quick look at the PER rating.
PG: Blake is 25th among PGs and Sergio is 37th.
SG: Roy is the 5th rated SG (behind Wade, Kobe, Vince and Morrow) and 17th overall player. He has a strong all-star case. Rudy is the #9 rated SG, 47th overall.
SF: Batum is 19th among SFs and Outlaw is 22nd.
PF: With a couple good games under his belt, Aldridge has risen to the 22nd spot among PFs. Still a dissapointing start for him. If he can improve his efficiency, the Blazers could well be the top offensive team in the league.
C: Oden is rated as the 6th best center, behind Dwight, Al Jefferson, Biedrins, Shaq and Big Z. While the team is still getting used to playing with him, there are a number of positive signs from Greg. Perhaps the best example: His rebound rate is tops in the league among centers. Joel's is third, with Golden State's Biedrins between them. For the record, Joel's PER is 11th among C's, easily on pace for a career best showing in this mostly offensive rating (though the Blazer big men do get credit for boards and blocks).
Summary: The Blazers have played a tough schedule, largely on the road, and still accumulated some impressive stats offensively. When the schedule lightens up a bit, its not at all unreasonable to think the Blazers offensive rating could go to #1 in the league, while their defensive rating could well climb toward the middle instead of the bottom. Its hard to say this early in the season. However, the various computer rankings are taking note of the Blazers managing to play this difficult stretch at above .500-- Hollinger has the Blazers 4th in his power rankings, Jeff Sagarin has them 8th. Hollinger gives the Blazers a 98% chance at the playoffs... coolstandings.com has that number at 77%.