Despite a frustrating loss in Sacramento on Friday, it was a good week for the Portland Trail Blazers. With wins over the Nuggets and Magic, and a split with the Kings, the team nearly cracked the top 10 in the ESPN and Sports Illustrated NBA Power Rankings, while doing so in the CBS Sports version.
ESPN moved Portland from 15th to 11th, with Jose De Leon stressing the importance of the team’s important road stretch this week:
The Trail Blazers are about to begin a five-game road trip. They won their first two games of the season on the road but have since lost three straight; two decided by fewer than five points and the other in overtime.
Sports Illustrated also pegged the Blazers 11th, the same spot they had them last week. Kenny Ducey has been impressed with the team’s defensive improvement:
Their defense has only allowed 100 points once in the past seven games, and now ranks as the second-best in the league. It was No. 21 last season.
Meanwhile, CBS Sports ranked Portland ninth, up from 12th last week. Chris Barnewell noted Shabazz Napier’s recent emergence:
The biggest surprise about the Blazers this season has to be the emergence of Shabazz Napier. The former first round pick has gone from probably out of the league to one of Portland's best rotation players. He played a huge role in their win over the Magic with five 3-pointers.
Portland (9-7) hits the road this week for an important trip. They begin the five-game roadie tonight at the Grind House in Memphis.