It was another solid week for the Portland Trail Blazers, with wins over the Pacers, Rockets, Pelicans and Timberwolves, and the only blemish being a nail-biting loss to the re-energized Lakers. That success was not lost on national pundits, as the team was a unanimous top ten selection in the weekly NBA Power Rankings entering the fourth week of the season.
ESPN placed the team seventh, up two spots from last week. Marc J. Spears does see some cause for concern, however, giving the (relatively) slow start of CJ McCollum:
The Blazers are quietly winning at a high rate thanks in large part to a high-octane offense. Oddly, CJ McCollum’s scoring has dipped during this start, as he is averaging 19.2 points per game while shooting 42 percent from the field. McCollum has averaged at least 20 points and a 44 percent shooting average per game in each of the previous three seasons.
CBS Sports also ranked the team seventh, up from tenth a week ago. Reid Forgrave praises Zach Collins while also pointing out the team’s early strength of schedule:
The Blazers’ schedule the first month of the season has been -- and will continue to be for another week -- unforgiving. And yet they’ve weathered it incredibly well. The impact of Zach Collins on this team cannot be overstated. This might be the best version of the Blazers since LaMarcus Aldridge left.
Sports Illustrated has Portland sixth, all the way up from 12th last week. Khadrice Rollins is impressed with the wide variety of players stepping up:
Lillard’s scoring took a slight dip in the Trail Blazers’ victories as the team’s role players continued to dominate. Zach Collins scored 17 points against the Pacers and then Jusuf Nurkic dropped 22 and 10 in Houston and 20 and nine at home against the Pelicans. Meyers Leonard chipped in 15 and 12 in Sunday’s victory over the Timberwolves as Nurkic led the way with 19 points.