The Portland Trail Blazers may have fallen from the heights of the NBA after a tough free agency last summer, but the restructured roster has surpassed tempered expectations thus far. Rob Mahoney of Sports Illustrated explores how exactly the Blazers have been able to thrive on offense under the leadership of head coach Terry Stotts:
The playbook, by Stotts’s estimation, held over roughly 80% of its contents from last season. Here you can see a year-to-year repeat of Portland’s weave pick-and-roll (also popularized by Golden State) from last season:
And this season:
What’s changed are the priorities within the Blazers’ sets and how often they’re run. Those plays designed to feed Aldridge on the left block are now put to other ends: an option on the weak side might be used more readily or a window for one of the guards to attack might be relied on more consistently. To the extent that the low post is utilized in Portland these days (which is quite little; no team uses fewer possessions in that space, according to Synergy Sports), it serves largely as a means of facilitation.
Mahoney further fleshes out these ideas and goes on to explain what makes the combination of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum so lethal, as well as how utilizing players like Mason Plumlee in new ways has created a brilliant, free-flowing offense.
Read Mahoney’s article in its entirety here. It is well worth the time.