Happy New Year! As 2019 kicks off (and the Trail Blazers battle the Kings), let’s take a moment to propose some resolutions for our favorite basketball team. Like most New Year pledges, a lot of these will likely be unrealized, but if even a few come true it could really help the team.
Collins should resolve to continue working on adding a jump shot to his repertoire. The second year Gonzaga product has improved his shooting percentage from 39.8 to 48.5 this season, but his 3-point accuracy has held steady at 30.6 percent. Most of his improvement has come in the 3-to-10 foot distance, which does little to help space the floor. If Collins can become an outside threat he would instantly become Portland’s only true two-way threat at forward.
Last season I highlighted Maurice Harkless’ weakside activity leading to blocks — a nice wrinkle in Terry Stotts’ defensive gameplan. This season Harkless has been active on the weakside on offense as well; often he sneaks in from the corner-3 position for putback dunks. Harkless has struggled hitting the corner triple this year, dropping from 40 percent to 33 percent and attempting them half as frequently, so the putback dunks are important to make sure he draws some defensive attention from that position.
CJ McCollum has been going through a shooting slump this season, seeing his 3-point accuracy plummet from 40 percent to 34 percent. McCollum will likely snap out of this slump soon — he didn’t magically become a significantly worse shooter over the summer. But his struggles have highlighted an uncomfortable reality for Blazers fans — after signing his nearly maximum contract two summers ago McCollum has failed to diversity his offense at all and struggles to contribute when his shot is not falling. That’s an uncomfortable limitation for a player who’s relied on as the team’s No. 2 scorer. McCollum’s resolution should be to add a new dimension to his game, preferably improve at pick and roll playmaking.
Kerry Eggers and I chatted on Twitter a couple days ago about Seth Curry’s struggles around the rim. Eggers followed up with this observation in a column today:
[T]he younger brother of Stephen Curry is shooting only .308 (20 for 65) on 2-point attempts. That leaves his overall field-goal percentage at .411.
Eric Griffith from Blazers Edge points out that Seth shot .645 on attempts from within five feet of the basket during his last NBA season in 2016-17 (he sat out all of last season with a leg injury). That is better than any Blazer last season — Evan Turner was best at .630.
Curry should resolve to try to get to the rim more in 2019.
Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic
We could nitpick Lillard and Nurkic to find something ineffective about their games, but the reality is that they have been the most consistent and effect Blazers this season. Their best bet is not to change a thing and just keep helping the team win.
Readers — let us know in the comments what resolutions you’d like to see the Blazers make in the new year!