The Portland Trail Blazers had their best week of the season last week, improving to 8-12 after winning two games against the Chicago Bulls and one against the Oklahoma City Thunder. That solid week shot them up different outlets’ power rankings. The Blazers sit comfortably in the middle of the pack in the NBA, with most writers highlighting the positive impact of Carmelo Anthony.
ESPN’s Royce Young has them 15th, noting that Melo has been a plus for Portland. However, this comes with the caveat of them playing an easy three games:
The Blazers have stabilized a bit, winning three of their past four. He did it! Carmelo Anthony saved their season! (Well ... also, Damian Lillard returned from injury exactly four games ago.) And the three wins have been against the Bulls, Thunder and Bulls again. But that’s not to dismiss Melo’s positive impact. He has been excellent in his role thus far, and that’s kind of the point: With Lillard back, Melo can fit how he is supposed to and complement Portland’s dynamic backcourt as a spacer and sometime-iso scorer. This week will tell us a lot more about the fit, though, with games against the Clippers and Lakers looming.
Sports Illustrated’s Michael Shapiro has Portland 16th, again pointing to Anthony as a big reason for their success:
Good for Carmelo Anthony. 22.3 points per game in his last three outings and a trio of Portland victories. Some shooting regression is likely, but Anthony doesn’t look out of place as a quality rotational cog. Portland is receiving a facsimile to OKC Anthony, who was a useful regular-season player. The Blazers have been rewarded for their chance.
CBS Sports’ Colin Ward-Henninger has the Blazers as the highest risers from last week, moving up eight spots from 26th to 18th:
All hail Carmelo Anthony, savior of the Portland Trail Blazers! Well, maybe not quite, but both the Blazers and Carmelo played well in a much-needed 3-0 week. Playing the Bulls twice helps, but those are games the Blazers were losing in the not-too-distant past. After a rocky start to his Blazers tenure, Anthony has averaged 22.3 points on 57 percent shooting and 46 percent 3-pointers during Portland’s win streak. It’s an incredibly small sample size, but so far this season the Blazers are a plus-4.4 in defensive rating and a plus-14.5 in overall net rating when Anthony is on the floor.
Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes puts the Blazers at 17th for...well, you can probably guess why at this point.
The schedule helped, as Portland ran off three straight wins against the Bulls, Thunder and Bulls again this week, completing its first three-game winning streak of a season that was looking bleak. And though the sample sizes are still too small to be dispositive, it’s worth noting that Carmelo Anthony has graded out as a positive asset since joining the Blazers.
He scored 25 points against the Bulls last Monday, then put up 19 more on 9-of-11 shooting in Wednesday’s (kinda sorta) homecoming in Oklahoma City. Incredibly, that performance was the most efficient shooting night of Anthony’s career.
Even if aided by a soft slate, the Blazers are back from the brink.
There’s a lot of love for Anthony. We’ll see if he can keep it up against the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. PT.