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And Now We Wait to Hear About Skal Labissiere

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In this week’s Mom’s Favorite, a trio of young players are working hard to keep the Blazers afloat as the injury bug continues.

Orlando Magic v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images

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? What were your favorite things that happened this week? Let us know in the comments below.

Week 9 and 10: December 15-28 Phoenix Suns (W), Golden State Warriors (W), Orlando Magic (W), Minnesota Timberwolves (W), New Orleans Pelicans (L), Utah Jazz (L), Los Angeles Lakers (L)

Mom’s Favorite: Skal Labissiere

Skal Labissiere suffered a knee injury on Saturday night and as of this writing all we know is that he had an MRI. The way this year is going, it is hard not to think the worst, although I am certainly hoping for the best.

The emergence of Labissiere has easily been my favorite part of this season. Every week I open up a blank Google Doc and ask myself “Who can I write about this week that isn’t Skal?” It’s only because I go through that exercise that this isn’t a weekly column devoted exclusively to Labissiere highlights.

Trail Blazers coaches liked him well enough to move him into the starting lineup on Saturday night.

Labissiere’s heart and his play have been bright spots in a tough year. He is the stickiest screen setter, a willing dunker, an active communicator, an emerging passer—the new Swiss Army Knife who can do a little bit of everything as long has he says out of foul trouble. Against the Utah Jazz, during the Blazers’ comeback attempt it was Skal on the floor with the closers because of his versatility and ability to play whatever role is asked of him.

He pairs well with any of the Portland guards, and when I see the chemistry he has with Anfernee Simons, I get excited about what the future holds. But he’s not just a part of the future—he has been a very important part of now, as the only person who could really do all the things that Aminu, Harkless, even Collins and Nurkic could do. He is not yet as good or as consistent as these guys were, but when Lillard and McCollum need a screen, a cutter, a put-back dunk, someone who is mobile enough to run to the perimeter or jump back into the paint, or a center who could push the ball back out to the wings or bounce pass it to a guard, Labissiere is the best option.

Here he his doing two things at once, both a rebound and an assist:

Think good thoughts as we wait to hear more news on his injury.

Honorable mentions

Anfernee Simons’ first career double double. Simons scored 15 points and added ten rebounds against Utah on Thursday night. This was his first game scoring double figures since December 10 and that was great to see, but check out how his rebounding has improved. This season he averages 2.4 rebounds; in December that has bumped up to 3.4 and over the last two weeks, he has averaged 5.3 including 1.3 on the offensive end.

Simons has been an important spark off the bench, and at this point, he pretty much is the bench. His dunks and drives keep hope alive and as the third member of the three-guard lineup, he consistently makes teams pay who load up against Lillard and McCollum.

Kyle Kuzma could barely stay on his feet on this drive.

Enjoy this dunk on three Lakers. Like a well seasoned log on the fire, it will keep you warm at night.

Gary Trent Jr gets more playing time. Trent has played in the last 9 games, the longest streak of his career. He is averaging 11 minutes per game this season, but as the injuries pile up, he is seeing more playing time. Over the last two weeks his average has crept up to 16 minutes per game, including 21 minutes against Golden State (his most minutes as a non-starter).

As someone who enjoyed a couple of Gary Trent Jr scoring explosions at Summer League, I can’t wait for that to happen during the regular season. More minutes and more reps will help him get there more quickly.

The return of Al-Farouq Aminu. #AminuAppreciationSociety

Wrong answers only. Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins had found their niche as the fashionistas in street clothes. If we can’t see them on the court at least they are putting in effort on the sidelines. Here they are dressed as a developer who wants to bring dinosaurs back to life and a scientist who thinks that is a very bad idea:

Give us all of the Nurkic content. All of it. My hopes are already ridiculously high for his return, why not just drive them up an extra notch by showing him hitting half-court shots? Here he is at a Winter Break camp in Beaverton.

Bring your kid to work day. I mean, we need this right now, right?

That will do it for this week’s Mom’s Favorites. What did you like about this week? What plays or player make you excited for the future? Let us know in the comments below.

Xoxo Team Mom | @tcbbiggs

Blazer’s Edge Night is coming in March. Buy your tickets now to help kids see a Blazer game!