It was a rough week for the Portland Trail Blazers. After a close win against the surprisingly upstart Knicks, they were humiliated by both the Bucks and Warriors, and subsequently blew a double-digit halftime lead to the red-hot Clippers upon returning home from their road trip. Understandably, the team’s stock dropped in the eyes of the national media in this week’s Power Rankings roundup.
CBS Sports was the most generous, ranking the team sixth, down only two spots from a week ago. Reid Forgrave chose to focus on CJ McCollum’s effectiveness in the mid-range:
CJ McCollum is a top-notch three-point shooter. But you already knew that. Did you know that it’s his mid-range shooting that has McCollum posting a career-high effective field-goal percentage this season? McCollum is leading the NBA in mid-range shooting percentage.
ESPN has the Blazers ninth, down from fifth last week. Marc J. Spears argues that Zach Collins is the better fit over Meyers Leonard should Jusuf Nurkic miss any time:
Keep an eye on Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic, who suffered a right shoulder contusion during a loss to the Clippers on Sunday and didn’t play in the second half. With Nurkic out, the Blazers turned to Meyers Leonard in the starting five and were outscored 38-16 in the third quarter. Leonard had nine points and 16 rebounds, but if the Blazers are hoping for more offense sans Nurkic, Zach Collins is the better bet. The 7-foot, 235-pound sophomore is averaging 8.4 points and a 37.8 3-point percentage off the bench.
Sports Illustrated also ranked Portland ninth, falling from third a week ago. Khadrice Rollins was unimpressed with how the team looked in their losing streak:
The Trail Blazers got closer and closer to winning in each game during their three straight losses, but the first loss was by 43 points. And the second loss was by 28. So closer didn’t mean too much. Sunday’s game against the Clippers was a chance to brush the blowouts to the side, but losing the third quarter 38-16 means Portland has to keep dealing with the stench of defeat for a bit longer.