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Blazers’ Jake Layman Steals The Show

Blazers reserve Jake Layman dominated this week and earned Mom’s Favorite honors in the process.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Sacramento Kings Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Each week, Team Mom highlights her favorites plays, players and other things that made the Trail Blazers fun to watch. Who is Mom’s Favorite this week? Did anyone get put in the dog house? What were your favorite things this week? Let us know in the comments below.

Week 14: Jan 13- Jan 19. Denver Nuggets (L), Sacramento Kings (L), Cleveland Cavaliers (W), New Orleans Pelicans (W)

Mom’s Favorite

I already had my eye on Jake Layman this week, not because I expected any kind of scoring explosion, but because “The Turtle” is fun to watch. He runs, he jumps, he soars.

This week, Layman averaged 16.0 points per game and led the team with 67.5 field goal percentage. His numbers were great, but on top of that, he injected energy and excitement into the arena—you can hear it in Brian Wheeler’s voice. Watch these highlights twice, one to see what Layman did and then again to see how everyone else reacted to his sizzling second quarter performance.

Moe Harkeless even hopped off the stationary bike so he could watch:

The Blazers needed that win against New Orleans to further exorcise last year’s playoff loss. Layman’s outburst was critical to helping seal the victory.

Keeping an eye on . . .

Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic playing together. There is much speculation about whether or not Al-Farouq Aminu will be on the team after the trade deadline or at the start of next season. I think the Blazers are playing Collins alongside the starters as the season progresses in order to gauge his readiness to take over if Aminu departs.

What would the Blazers lineup look like without Aminu? He is providing 9.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. He does this while committing less than one turnover and 2.1 fouls per game. Yes, there is high variance in all of those averages, but even with his unpredictable handles and streaky shooting he is more of a benefit than a liability. He has the second best net rating, the second best rebounding percentage and is shooting a serviceable 35.9 percent from distance (league average is 35.5). What happens when he is no longer playing 30 minutes a night for the Blazers? Is Collins ready to step into that spot?

It’s time to find out. Aminu and Nurkic have logged 1168 minutes together this season. On the flip side, Collins and Nurkic have shared the court for only 51 minutes. I’m watching to see if their minutes together continue to increase as the trade deadline approaches.

In November, Collins and Nurkic played 28 total minutes together. That pace dropped off in December, possibly due to Collins struggling during that period. The tough schedule also meant that the Blazers had to play their very best lineups every night just to keep their head above water.

In January, that pairing is slowly returning. After playing a minute or less together in each of the first five games this month, Collins and Nurkic have logged two minutes or more in the last five contests. Next week, the Jazz and the Thunder come to town, two teams with exceptional centers. I will be watching to see if Stotts trusts Collins enough to play him even a few minutes alongside Nurkic in those games.

Honorable Mention

Jusuf Nurkic’s Triple-Double. They say you never forget your first and I’m sure he won’t forget his first triple-double. It was fun to watch and definitely worth mentioning but with everything else going on this week, let’s save the big celebration for when he gets one in a big win.

Send Seth to the All-Star Weekend. We’re starting to learn who has been invited to attend the 2019 NBA All Star Slam Dunk Contest (rookie Miles Bridges will be there, as reported by Chris Haynes, while Donovan Mitchell will not.) Charlotte-born Seth Curry who has the second best 3-point shooting percentage in the league is a natural fit for the beyond the arc shooting portion of the festivities. Hoping he gets his invitation soon.

Elle Leonard’s shooting. Meyers Leonard’s wife Elle has an impressive shot, not to mention good form at taking the balls off the rack. This is just the latest video among many that she has posted showing her drain shot after shot. Maybe she can go to Charlotte to consult with Seth.

CJ McCollum’s number will be retired at Lehigh. McCollum was the two-time Patriot League Player of the Year and will probably always be remembered for his 30-point game in the NCAA Tournament where his 15-seed Lehigh Mountain Hawks defeated Mason Plumlee’s Duke Blue Devils in 2012.

Dog house

So much has happened this week that I almost forgot about Iman Shumpert’s performance on Monday when the Blazers lost to Sacramento at home. After taking exception to a hard screen in the first quarter by Nurkic, Shumpert spent most of the rest of the game chirping at the other players and staff. Shumpert even bumped into coach Terry Stotts, earning him the coldest hardest stare Stotts may have ever delivered.

Shumpert’s attempt to enter the Blazers’ locker room after the game was captured by Peter Socotch of NBC Sports Northwest. I’m hoping next time the Blazers go to Sacramento, former King, Nik Stauskas, can help everyone find the secret tunnel so they can storm the castle. (All NBA arenas come with secret tunnels now, don’t they?)

That will do it for this week’s edition of Mom’s Favorite. What were your favorite things happening this week? What are you keeping your eye on? Let us know in the comments below!

Team Mom | @tcbbiggs