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Portland Trail Blazers Stock Watch: Rallying Around the Bench

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How are the bench players performing during Portland's brutal four game road trip?

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

It is Week Eight of the Stock Watch!  The bench has significantly improved by nearly every metric from last season.

Stats are reflected from Monday, December 15th through Sunday, December 21st

Steve Blake

Last Week: 6-20 (30%) shooting, 4-12 threes, 11 rebounds, 16 assists, 3 turnovers in 98 minutes

Stock Watch: UP

It is uncanny how consistent Blake is. On a week where he scored 10 points versus San Antonio on Friday, he still almost matched his season average for points on the week. The same was true for rebounds and assists. The Blazers know they will get five points, four rebounds, and four assists from Blake every night. But where he really shines is the elements of the game not found on the stat sheet. His leadership of the second unit is a large reason for their improvement this season. His toughness is a huge factor for Portland, and was on display when he took an elbow to the face from Kyle Anderson versus the Spurs on Friday, yet bounced back up and took his foul shots. It is intangibles like these you cannot measure.

Chris Kaman

Last Week: 17-33 (51.5%) shooting, 5-9 free throws, 17 rebounds, 0 blocks, 4 turnovers in 78 minutes

Stock Watch: NO CHANGE

Kaman salvaged what had been an okay week for him with a stellar effort versus New Orleans. He hit eight straight shots, scored 16 points, and converted the mid-range looks he has been taking more of recently. Earlier in the week against Milwaukee, he did not take a single shot within six feet of the hoop, and ended up shooting 3-of-12. Larry Sanders and Zaza Pachulia are efficient defenders, but Kaman is a much better center than either of them. If teams are able to force Kaman away from the cylinder, he will have issues scoring with the second unit, which would be disastrous considering Kaman accounts for 25.3% of the Blazers bench scoring this season.

Joel Freeland

Last Week: 10-16 (62.5%) shooting, 2-3 free throws, 18 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 turnovers in 65 minutes

Stock Watch: UP

Freeland has gotten the start the past two games in Robin Lopez's absence, and has made the most of his time with the starting five. His strong eight point, six rebound night versus San Antonio on Friday was a big reason Portland stayed in that game. Against Milwaukee he grabbed three offensive rebounds, part of Portland's 16 offensive rebounds on the evening. He averages more rebounds than points in his career, and his strong rebounding ability and above-average defensive skills are why Portland is in good shape with Freeland starting while Lopez is on the mend.

Thomas Robinson

Last Week: 14-21 (66.7%) shooting, 8-21 free throws, 29 rebounds, 1 block, 8 turnovers in 86 minutes

Stock Watch: WAY UP

Robinson's meteoric week was nothing short of fantastic in the wake of Lopez's hand injury. His 15 point, 16 rebound game versus Milwaukee was his best game of this season, and his best output since a 14 point, 18 rebound effort versus Minnesota on February 23rd of last season. The 15 points tied a career high, achieved last season versus Atlanta on November 13th. He followed his stellar game against Milwaukee with a 12 point, 4 rebound effort in Portland's obliteration of New Orleans last Saturday. Robinson is showing exactly why Sacramento selected him with the fifth overall pick in the 2012 draft: his athleticism around the rim and natural ability to control the offensive and defensive glass. Now all he needs is to bring his free throw percentage up.

CJ McCollum

Last Week: 2-12 (16.7%) shooting, 0-4 threes, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 turnovers in 38 minutes

Stock Watch: DOWN

While McCollum's return boosts the Blazers bench depth, one has to wonder if he returned too early. The splint on the finger of his shooting hand is clearly affecting his shot. Once the splint comes off and McCollum has mobility of that finger, he should return to his previous form. Obviously Portland wants the second-year guard in game shape, which means getting minutes even when he is not 100%, so some rough patches are expected as he continues to recover.