Here's a week-ending round-up of various Portland Trail Blazers coverage. Lots of great offerings this week in the FanShots. Thanks to everyone for contributing.
Blazers coach Terry Stotts was interviewed this week by two local radio stations.
LaMarcus Aldridge was interviewed on The Jim Rome Show earlier this week. Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com has the audio here. Here's a transcript of the portion discussing Aldridge's happiness.
Did you want out last summer?
It was just me being overly emotional at the time. Nobody wants to lose. I'm in my prime right now. At the time, I was a little emotional about not winning or what not. After I had time to talk to Neil and the team, I knew they were going to make some moves, bring some guys in.
Would you sign an extension?
I'm happy. I'm going to cross that bridge after the season. I'm happy that the team is winning. I feel like we have a great group of guys that plays very unselfish. That whole thing last summer was just about losing so many games in a row and not winning. Now we're winning, and guys are getting better every year and that's great.
Dave participated in a roundtable over at Blazers.com earlier this week.
A notoriously reticent player in years past, Aldridge called this the happiest time in his career.
"Guys are playing so unselfish - our team chemistry is unreal right now," he said. "Coach Stotts gives us the freedom to play loose and make plays, and guys aren't abusing it."
Like Aldridge, guard Wesley Matthews endured the bad times, and he is cherishing this young season.
"The fact that we were so bad, recordwise, last year, we grew," he said. "A lot of the guys that were here last year, experienced all that losing last year, we're still here. When you're on both ends of the spectrum, you have no choice but to be close."
So many things going on here in this week-end wrap from Portland Roundball Society.
"You look at the parts they have around them, they have youth, they have energy, they have length, they have size, they defend. Let's give coach Terry Stotts some credit. ... He's doing a fantastic job thus far. They can hit perimteer shots as well. They have a go-to player, if not two. They have guys who you can throw the ball to and say 'Take me to the promised land.' ... I'm not saying that the Portland trail Blazers are going to win the world title this year. I'm telling you with the team they have assembled, they can pose a threat to anybody, they can beat anybody on any given night. I could easily see them in the semifinals or the conference finals. ... Oh by the way, they are just a piece away from winning it all, a piece away from winning it all. They've got those kind of troops."
Chris Broussard of ESPN.com with some thoughts from a GM and a scout about the Blazers.
"Portland is for real. When you talk about teams that can win the West, they're in the conversation. The reason why is because they can guard wings with Matthews and Batum, and then they have some offense off the bench. They can beat you playing small and beat you playing big.
"Mo Williams and Dorell Wright were big pickups for them. Terry Stotts is a good coach. And Damian Lillard -- he didn't play well in the USA Basketball game last summer, but in practices he made some plays where we were like 'Whoa.' He was great in the practices. And he's got great confidence. That's that Oakland in him. I'm putting him ahead of Kyrie [Irving] right now. Chris Paul, [Russell] Westbrook, Steph Curry, Tony Parker -- those are the top point guards, but Lillard is in the conversation for top five.
Scout: "I think the Blazers are very much contenders. I've seen the Clippers and I'm not sure the Clippers are better than them. It could be a toss-up. Portland has what it takes to go deep into the playoffs because of their ability to shoot from the perimeter, and they have a great inside player. They mirror Indiana. They're a good defensive team, they're big, they can score and their defensive numbers are pretty good. They're playing much better on that end than they did last year."
Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune writes on Damian Lillard.
I ask Lillard if he is happy in Portland. He nods affirmatively, adding that his mother, Gina, brother Houston and sister Lanae have chosen to make the City of Roses their home, too.
"It's a great place for me," the Oakland, Calif. native says. "It reminds me of Berkeley, with the people you see downtown and how busy it gets down there. I like how the people are behind the Trail Blazers.
"I love it here. Hopefully this is where I'll always be. I'm not saying that just to be politically correct. I really hope so. My family likes it here. Hopefully it will be a career-long thing for me."
John Canzano of The Oregonian says it's time to get excited.
Go on. Join your NBA team. Grab the moment with two hands. After all the Portland injuries and heartbreaking losses, fans here had a special run like this coming. Maybe you're already in. Maybe you've kicked off your shoes and are running, barefoot, through the arena concourse. But if you aren't, jump right in, and do what Williams, Aldridge and Lillard are doing. A run like this doesn't come along for a basketball fan that often either.
Seize. The. Moment.
Dwight Jaynes of CSNNW.com on Nicolas Batum's kill-shot three against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
This, by the way, was the essence of good NBA offense. You design plays, yes. But it's up to the players on the floor to recognize the available options based on what the defense does. The coach trusts his players and the players trust each other. Batum in this case, acted with confidence, poise and purpose.
Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com writes that Kevin Durant downplayed any rivalry between the Thunder and Blazers.
"I wouldn't say we have a rivalry with the Blazers," Kevin Durant told CSNNW.com. "I think a rivalry stems from the playoffs, playing against them in the playoffs. We've had tough games here and there with them. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying they're not a tough team to play against, but we haven't had a lot of crazy battles with these guys."
Erik Gundersen of The Columbian writes on Mo Williams.
"When Mo comes into the game, you notice a change in the feel of the game," said head coach Terry Stotts. "He pushes the ball with the dribble. You can just sense the pace of the game changing when he comes in."
In two five-man line-ups without Lillard, Williams pushes Portland's normally below average pace to a top-ten pace, meaning they average more possessions per 48 minutes when he is running the show as the lone ball-handler, per NBA.com.
Amin Elhassan discusses the Blazers' mid-range shooting in this TrueHoop TV interview with Henry Abbott and predicts that good mid-range shooters will be more valued in the future than they are right now because of changing defensive schemes that encourage jumpers.
The Blazers uploaded a video of Brian Grant going on a fishing trip to Alaska with Karl Malone.
David MacKay of Rip City Project looks at Wesley Matthews' hot start.
As for the statistics, Wesley Matthews leads the entire league in both effective field goal percentage (67.8%) and true shooting percentage (69.6%). This is because he is rocking an astonishing 51.0% from three (higher than any player with 100 or more attempts) to go with an almost as astonishing 58.5% conversion rate on 2-point field goals. He also ranks 10th in the NBA for overall field goal percentage (54.6%).
He's better than the player he was six months ago, who was no slouch to begin with.
That's why he was left off of the all-star ballot. The player he was six months ago was not all-star worthy and enough season had not passed to prove his newfound success anything more than a fluke at the time the ballot was announced. That being said, I think much of the media sensationalized his resentment about being excluded. Matthews will find motivation where he can, as any gifted player will do, but, as far as I can tell, he's not out for blood.
JP503 posted a behind the scenes video with Antonio Harvey and CJ McCollum in The FanShots.
Chris Reichert of HoopsHabit.com writes about Robin Lopez.
Scott Dargis of Giving110Percent reflects on the Blazers and their lack of national TV coverage.
I'm doing an "AMA" with the Reddit NBA community next week. Details here.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter