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.
Mom’s Favorite: Great passes and great finishes
Damian Lillard has been a superstar for the Portland Trail Blazers his week, torching the nets and getting his teammates involved. With running mate CJ McCollum out nursing a strained muscle in his knee, we knew that Lillard would be shouldering a heavy load. What remained less clear was whether the rest of the team would be there to help him carry it.
CJ McCollum averages just under 18 shot attempts per game this season. With McCollum out, the Blazers are averaging 83 shot attempts per game, down from 90 per game over the course of the season. Only Curry has seen a big jump in shot attempts, from 5.7 to 11 per game. Others like Al-Farouq Aminu, Enes Kanter, Rodney Hood and Maurice Harkless have seen only a modest increase in attempts. Lillard’s attempts have actually decreased, from 19.1 to 16 per game.
The key to winning these games has been Damian Lillard’s ability to find his teammates and their ability to finish. They have become more efficient, scoring 116.3 points per game on those 83 attempts, compared to 114.1 points on 90 attempts.
Granted this is a small sample size, strength of opponent, home court . . . yeah. I hear you. But this also without CJ McCollum, so I think even if Blazers don’t continue with this same efficiency, we can see what it looks like when everything is clicking.
What I enjoyed the most this week were some really great passes from Damian Lillard and some really great finishes by the rest of the team. Here is a collection of Lillard assists that includes some dishes, some side-arm, and some driving into the teeth of the defense to kick it out for a three.
Lillard has averaged 12 assists over the last three games, and as a team the Blazers are shooting 50.2 percent from the field, second in the league, and 42.6 percent from three, also second in the league. Their effective field goal percentage has climbed to 58.2, and their true shooting percentage has increased to 62.1, both also second in the league. Here are some of those fantastic finishes.
Gold Star: Maurice Harkless improvement since the All-Star Break
I know a popular topic among Blazer fans is how sustainable is Maurice Harkless’ latest production. From what we have seen in the second half of the season it appears that it is sustainable. Headband Moe is for real. We should stop wringing our hands and just enjoy how much he has improved. He will still have games when he doesn’t play well—everybody does. Harkless, whether it is because of his head gear or because he is comfortable in his role, has improved in almost every category since the All-Star Break. Look at that net rating, from 1.1 to 18.5.
Maurice Harkless, Pre and Post All Star Break
|Pre All Star Break
|Post All Star Break
|Pre All Star Break
|Post All Star Break
Jusuf Nurkic dunk watch. Last season Jusuf Nurkic attempted 68 dunks and made 64. After Saturday’s game he had attempted 79 and made 67 (so far). Earlier this year he was on pace to double his output. While that no longer looks like it will be the case, he has at least surpassed last year’s production. I’m hoping he can push himself to at least 75. Come on big fella, I believe in you!
Carrying each other down the stretch. Meyers Leonard and Damian Lillard have been on the Trail Blazers together for seven years. That is a long time—as long as middle school in addition to high school! How many people have you worked with every day for seven years who you would feel this close to? I love this photo captured by Bruce Ely:
Andre Miller throwback dunk. Oh Andre, your time here was too short.
WYD Moe? An extremely odd and very athletic move:
Zach Collins Boogie Nights. Zach Collins was clearly in a groove on the bench and Meyers Leonard ‘s face belied what we were all thinking: “What are you dancing to, man?” NBC Sports had a few ideas what the song could be.
Baby Dame knows what time it is. The prince of Portland is growing up before our eyes.
Al-Farouq A-Photo of the week. Oh yeah, one more thing: #AminuAppreciationSociety.
Phew! That was a lot of fun stuff this week. What were some of your favorite things to happen to the Trail Blazers this week? Let us know in the comments below.