In spite of a tough week, the Portland Trail Blazers remain atop the NBA hierarchy in the eyes of the national media. After losses against the Lakers and Timberwolves, the team rebounded with a solid victory over the Wizards on Sunday night to snap their first losing streak of the season. ESPN, CBS Sports and Sports Illustrated all have Portland in the top five of their respective power rankings entering the season’s sixth week.
The Blazers now have the best record in the Western Conference despite losing two of their past three games. Give credit to All-Star Damian Lillard for leading the way, as he already has racked up three 40-point games this season.
CBS Sports flipped the script, bumping the team up a spot to fourth. Despite this, Reid Forgrave is wary of the sustainability of Nik Stauskus:
Nik Stauskas is a nice story for the Blazers. He stole the show on opening night when he dropped 24 points on the Los Angeles Lakers. And he gives the Blazers another three-point threat. But since opening night, he’s scored more than 10 points only once -- and his net rating at minus-7.7 points per 100 possessions is by far the worst on the team.
Sports Illustrated was the most generous, slotting Portland in the third spot, up from fifth a week ago. Khadrice Rollins continues to be impressed with the efforts of Damian Lillard:
Did you expect Damian Lillard to do anything besides put 40 on the Wizards to end Portland’s two-game losing streak? Even with a not-so-great week, the Trail Blazers have moved into a tie for first in the West. Upcoming contests against the Bucks, Warriors and Clippers will be a litmus test for just how good this team is right now. Dame and C.J. are sure to do their thing in those meetings, but seeing how the role players perform in those games and just how well the two stars can create for them will say a lot about just how excited people should be about this team come April.
Things get noticeably tougher for the Blazers (11-5) this week, as they face the Knicks, Bucks and Warriors to close out their road trip.