It's time for our weekly Stock Watch. After a rough road trip which saw injuries to LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, and Chris Kaman, some players stepped up to aid the Blazers in their time of need, while some stepped back.
Stats are reflected from Monday, March 16th to Sunday, March 22nd
Last Week: 26-64 (40.6%) shooting, 6-24 (25%) threes, 23 assists, 14 rebounds, 13 turnovers
Stock Watch: DOWN
While Lillard's overall shooting improved last week, it came on the back of drives to the basket. His long range shot is still not falling consistently, and his three point shooting percentage has dropped to 34 percent on the season, leaving him tied for 99th in the NBA in the category. The real problem for Portland, however, has been Lillard's defense. While Lillard has never been a plus defender, his defense had improved substantially at the start of this season. His improvement was part of the reason the Blazers were a top five defensive team at the start of the year. Yet opposing point guards are now shredding Lillard. During the last four games, the player Lillard is assigned to guard has shot an average of 58.7 percent from the field. Mike Conley shot 8-of-11, Elfrid Payton shot 10-of-13, and the only reason the percentage is not higher is because John Wall shot 10-of-23. The real red flag is that while Conley, Wall, and Payton (along with Goran Dragic) are strong point guards, they are not score-first guards in the mold of Russell Westbrook or Stephen Curry. None of them average more than 17 points per game, Wall is the only one in the top ten among point guards in scoring (at number 10) and Payton averages less than ten.
Last Week: 12-22 (54.5%) shooting, 8-9 free throws, 20 rebounds, 2 blocks, 7 turnovers
Stock Watch: DOWN
While Lillard was getting beaten by the opposing guards last week, the Blazers interior defense turned into jelly. Opposing players were able to slice through the interior and score at a terrifying pace, with guards able to drive the lane seemingly at will. Orlando grabbed 18 offensive rebounds, and Hassan Whiteside continued his Dikembe Mutombo impersonation with five of them by himself for Miami. Meanwhile, Lopez grabbed just three rebounds versus Orlando. The struggles in rebounding are a big reason Portland had a rough road trip.
Last Week: 3-10 (30%) shooting, 2-7 threes, 9 assists, 6 rebounds, 4 turnovers in 45 minutes
Stock Watch: NO CHANGE
Blake saw his minutes dwindle last week, with a season-low nine minutes versus Memphis. With Aldridge and Batum out in the second half, Portland needed scoring on the court, and that is not really Blake's strength anymore. While his overall line looks good for the week, six of his nine assists came in one game: Wednesday versus Miami. All four of his turnovers also came in that game. A great deal of Blake's value comes from his on-ball defense, and opposing benches are not scoring in record numbers like they used to. Will defense be enough of a reason for him to continue to be Lillard's primary substitute?
Last Week: 14-30 (46.7%) shooting, 5-14 (35.7%) threes, 2 assists, 3 steals, 5 turnovers in 77 minutes
Stock Watch: UP
McCollum's work load almost doubled last week, as he went from averaging between 32 and 40 minutes a week to 77, and responded with a strong shooting performance. He closed the week with a pair of strong games against Orlando and Memphis, keeping his shooting percentage above 45% in both games. His tendency to occasionally force shots is still there, but he also incorporated Lillard's baseline drive and layup technique to great effect. The worry is that McCollum gets himself in foul trouble going for steals. Portland will trade fouls for a great shooting line every time.
Last Week: 4-16 (25%) shooting, 1-7 threes, 14 rebounds, 0 blocks, 6 turnovers in 56 minutes
Stock Watch: DOWN
Quite the ugly stat line for Leonard over the last week. Much of it comes from Leonard's seeming hesitation when shooting the three point shot, which was working so well for him in the last month. Often he will pass up an open three to pass instead. During the game versus Washington, Leonard had an open three in the corner and passed out of it, only for Batum to pass it right back when the Wizards defense still did not move to cover Leonard. This time he shot and missed as his defender was able to close and affect the shot. The ability to separate the defense by having a big player shoot threes is Leonard's biggest strength on the court, so Portland could use a shot of confidence for their young center.