Blazers Defensive Rankings
28th points allowed (101.8)
28th Defensive Rb (28.3)
29th FG% allowed (49%)
30th Pts in Paint allowed (48.6)
22nd Blocks (4.5)
These depressed stats can all be traced back to one aspect of the game; one VERY specific aspect of the game. DEFENDING THE RIM!
Hypothetically, if the blazers improved their defensive presence in the paint, a chain reaction would occur that would remedy every deficiency listed above. Improved defensive at the rim would result in more altered shots, changed shots, and blocked shots. More altered shots would lead to fewer points in the paint allowed. Allowing fewer points in the paint, would translate to fewer easy buckets, leading to a lower FG% allowed to opponents. This would lead to fewer points per game allowed and more opportunity for defensive rebounds.
Portland is 15th in defensive rebound percentage, but 28th in defensive rebounds per game. This difference in rankings is unnatural considering Portland is above average in pace (13th). Clearly, FG% allowed is the culprit. How can the blazers grab a defensive rebound if their opponent makes every shot?
the blazers are the worst team in the NBA at defending the rim. Why, you might ask? Because JJ Hickson, a 6-9 power forward, is averaging 28 minutes per game at the center position for the blazers. Meyers Leonard, a 7 foot-true center-rookie- lottery pick is averaging more blocks than Hickson, despite playing 11 less minutes per game. MEYERS LEONARD is the solution. Make him a starter and give him 30+ minutes a game! Throw him in the deep end! We've seen flashes, I want to see more!
With Leonard starting, Hickson could come off the bench as the primary scoring option for the second unit, a second unit that ranks dead last in scoring in the NBA (12.2 PPG). Don’t forget, before Portland molded J.J. into a 10-10 bulldog center, he was a legit scoring threat (15 ppg, 54% FG, last season). JJ is naturally a scorer, the blazers should direct those talents where they are needed: with our underachieving BENCH.
Batum and Mathews are undisputed great wing defenders and LaMarcus is no slouch. It’s very clear to me the blazer’s defensive deficiencies point directly at the center position. Directly at JJ Hickson. Directly at the Coaching staff. Review those stats again at the top of the page. Despite the talents of Batum, Mathews and Aldridge, those are the statistics of the worst defensive team in the NBA.