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Critical Stats for the Trail Blazers in 2018-19

As training camp inches closer, we’re firing up the spreadsheets and talking stats! Which numbers are Blazer’s Edge writers keeping their eyes on this season?

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Houston Rockets Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Every year I like to choose a single stat to watch throughout the Trail Blazers’ season. I try to not choose the predictable ones because those are well covered by the rest of the crew here on Blazer’s Edge.

In the past I’ve kept tabs on which uniforms were the most successful (it’s the sleeves, sorry haters), Blazer performances against teams with guys named Green (not good), and how many times Jusuf Nurkic got hit in the face (I spilled wine on the envelope I used to keep track these so I don’t have the final numbers for this one).

Now, I can’t prove that wearing sleeves led to more Blazer wins or say exactly why teams with guys named Green play better against the Blazers. And, okay, there isn’t any real proof that hitting Nurkic in the face causes him to lead the team to victory. Keeping track certainly makes the games more entertaining though, especially in those long, dark winter months.

This year I’m zeroing in on Nurkic again because I believe that he is the player most likely to show game-changing improvements this season. Last year, through 79 games, he attempted 65 dunks — less than one per game. Not many dunks for a 7-foot big man (DeAndre Jordan had 234 attempts). The good news for the Blazers, though? They won 30 of the 46 games in which he attempted a dunk (65.2%). That is why this year I’ll be keeping tabs on Nurkic dunk attempts.

I asked the other Blazer’s Edge writers what they were going to watch this season. Those who were not making Instagram workout videos got back to me. Here is what they came up with:

Isaiah De Los Santos (@IsaiahDeLos): I’m watching for the number of missed games by Damian Lillard this season. Between having a baby and a couple of lower-body injuries last year, the team went 5-4 in his absence. Portland needed every one of those five wins to just make the playoffs, and I could see the exact same razor-thin margins for them this season in an even tighter Western Conference.

Eric Griffith (@EricG_NBA): Bench points! Zach Collins and Evan Turner will be the only two reserves who played regular NBA minutes last year when the season tips off, and even those two have significant limitations. There’s potential for disaster when the reserves enter the game, especially early in the season. If we see the bench is putting up a decent number of points it’s a good sign some of the question marks have turned into exclamation marks.

Brian Freeman (@BrianFreeman24): I’m watching fast break points. The Blazers had the fewest steals per game of any playoff team, were in the bottom of the league for turnovers caused, and, consequently, were last in the NBA in fast break points. Based on the offseason, Portland is planning to play a heavy dose of 3-guard lineups this season. If that is the case, those lineups will need to be more disruptive on the defensive end and more aggressive in transition. Getting some easy points out of a scoring method that the Blazers have ignored for the past couple years could be the difference in success or failure this season.

Kendyl Bennett (@kendylbennett16): I’m going to be watching assists this season, but specifically CJ McCollum’s. The Blazers get knocked for not passing the ball enough and seeing that Lillard already averages around six assists per game, to about three for McCollum, I’d love to see both numbers go up but I’d really love to see CJ’s go up some and for him to step up and become more of a play-maker this season.

Steve Dewald (@stevedhoops): For me, this season will come down to Zach Collinsgrowth on offense. I’ll be keeping tabs on his efficiency, and his low-post scoring. This avenue provides an added bonus of monitoring how our own Dan Marang interacts with people throughout the year....hahaha.

How about you, Blazer fans? What stat will you be tracking in the upcoming season? Let us know in the comments below!

xoxo Team Mom (@tcbbiggs)