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Pelton: Plumlee “Somewhat Unfairly Scapegoated,” No Urgency For Noel Trade

In an ESPN chat, Kevin Pelton questions the prospective gains from a Nerlens Noel trade, and whether CJ McCollum should be traded to Utah.

Los Angeles Clippers v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Six Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

ESPN’s Kevin Pelton completed his latest chat Friday morning, and provided a few fresh insights on the value of some of Portland’s most popular players. As always, he offered a unique perspective on many teams across the NBA, and the chat is well worth the reading time. For the Blazers, he delved into the belief that Portland needs to make a trade to shore up their front-line defense. His thoughts deviated from the prevailing opinion of local fans.

Dave ( Hoodriver) [via mobile]

Why does everyone want to replace Mason Plumlee from his starting spot? Is he not good enough? Numbers are actually better than Steven Adams almost across the board in six fewer minutes.

Kevin Pelton

I don't know that Adams is a great comparison given he's probably a superior defender -- which won't necessarily be reflected in most "numbers" -- but I do think Plumlee has been somewhat unfairly scapegoated. Until actually looking at the numbers for the piece I wrote about how the Blazers defended Russell Westbrook, I just assumed the Blazers were struggling to defend the rim given their overall poor defense. In fact, they're second in the league in this regard. Now, I think this is somewhat more about their defensive scheme than Plumlee individually, but at minimum it suggests he is capable of playing his role in that scheme. I don't see the urgency to bring in, say, Nerlens Noel.

He also discussed a “who says no?” trade proposal involving the Utah Jazz and CJ McCollum (which does not take into account the limitations involved in a McCollum trade).

Mike (Philly)

What do you think about this #whosaysno trade idea: Utah sends Rodney Hood and Derrick Favors to Portland for CJ McCollum Blazers big man of their choice (Davis, Leonard, or Ezeli's contract). Am I crazy to think it actually makes sense for both teams? Utah gets no. 1 scoring option while Portland significantly improves defense.

Kevin Pelton

Hmm. If I'm the Blazers, I'm going to need a lot of information about the condition of Favors' back and knees given his difficulty staying on the court this season. And I'm not sure McCollum is really much of an upgrade on Hayward as a No. 1 scoring option. That's intriguing but I don't think it moves the needle clearly enough for either team to pull the trigger, which is the fundamental difficulty with making trades.

Join in the discussion below. Is Mason Plumlee “unfairly scapegoated”? Would a trade for a player like Noel make no difference for the Blazers’ defensive issues? If Derrick Favors was healthy, would he and Rodney Hood be reasonable compensation in a trade for McCollum and a Blazers big man?