Aykis16, one of the fine writers at SacTownRoyalty, was live at the un-televised Portland Trail Blazers-Sacramento Kings game tonight. He was kind enough to run down his impressions of the Blazers. Here are a few of the notable ones. For the complete list, click through to this article.
- Portland has a real gem in Damian Lillard. He reminds me of a mix between the Kings two young Point Guards, Jimmer and Isaiah. Lillard has Jimmer's shooting ability with Isaiah's athleticism, a deadly combination. He struggled early, partially because I think he was being a bit tentative and deferential. He shone when he became more aggressive and actively looked for his shot. He'll need to get a lot more comfortable running an offense and preventing penetration by his man, but there is star potential here.
- I got the opposite vibe from Meyers Leonard. Leonard looked as raw as can be, picking up 5 fouls in just 15 minutes. He was not a particular hindrance to the Kings bigs at all. He's athletic and the potential's there, but he's going to need a lot of polishing to become a good consistent contributor.
- Speaking of the Blazers bigs, this is where I think their weakness lies. Aldridge is great, but aside from him, there aren't that many options. Defensively is the biggest problem, as even Aldridge isn't great there. J.J. Hickson is not a good defender, Meyers Leonard is raw, and Joel Freeland doesn't possess the physicality needed to be a defensive brute.
- Freeland did show a decent nose for rebounds though, and I think surprised Cousins a bit on one or two of them as he just snatched them away. Not much else other than the rebounds though.
- The Kings got a bit lucky with how many threes Nic Batum missed. He shot just 2 of 9, but most of those were open shots. Batum did have one sequence I didn't like and that was a contested pull-up jumper at the top of the key relatively early in the shot clock. It didn't come close.
- J.J. Hickson's boxscore looks a lot better than he actually played. To his credit, he attacked the basket instead of settling for jumpers. I don't believe he shot one jumper. I think Hickson and Aldridge will be playing together a lot as Portland's best bigs, but I don't necessarily like that combo, especially defensively.
- Nolan Smith and Damian Lillard were both getting hounded by the Kings guards and it caused quite a few turnovers and fastbreak points. They'll need to get more comfortable in the halfcourt.
- Will Barton played just 9 minutes but managed to show off his athleticism with a nice alley-oop slam and a putback layup. He missed his only jumper attempt, but he looks like he could be a decent bench option.
Thanks again to SacTownRoyalty for the assist!