All-in-all, it was a pretty impressive week for the Portland Trail Blazers. Despite a close loss to the Thunder, the team was able to eke out an overtime victory over the Kings before earning an impressive win over the resurgent Rockets on Saturday night. The strong showing was reflected in this week’s NBA Power Rankings roundup.
ESPN kept the squad in the 12th spot, and Marc J. Spears appears to have come down with a case of Nurk Fever:
The Blazers appear to have a third scorer behind Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum whom they can depend on in center Jusuf Nurkic. Nurkic has scored at least 20 points in five of the past six games, including 27 points against Golden State on Dec. 27. The 7-foot, 275-pounder also has already logged 20 double-doubles in 40 games.
CBS Sports also ranked the Blazers 12th, the same position as a week ago. Reid Forgrave is apparently not buying the big man as a legitimate scoring option yet:
The Blazers have scored 4,449 points this season. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum have scored 1,870 of those points. That’s 42 percent of their team’s scoring. That’s, um, not balanced. It’s too bad that we likely will never be able to see what this version of the Lillard-McCollum show could look like with a third superstar.
Sports Illustrated pegged Portland 11th, down one spot from last week. Khadrice Rollins notes the Bosnian Beast’s impact on the team’s solid play:
It just so happened that Jusuf Nurkic’s weakest stat line of the week (22 points, eight rebounds, three steals, one assist one block vs. Oklahoma City) was also the only game Portland lost. The Blazers big man took care of business against the Kings (24 points, 23 rebounds, seven assists, five steals and five blocks) and Rockets (25 points, 15 rebounds, three assists).