Coming off yet another crushing loss and sporting a 16-23 record, the Portland Trail Blazers aren’t exactly high on the NBA notability list. Dan Devine of The Ringer thinks that their current situation is dire, but they’re still worth keeping an eye on. In an article listing the five most interesting teams under .500, Devine has the Blazers firmly ensconced along with the Memphis Grizzlies, San Antonio Spurs, Detroit Pistons, and Orlando Magic.
Devine admits that Carmelo Anthony is the most compelling reason to watch Portland right now, a testimony to their broken campaign. But Devine also argues that ‘Melo has inherent value, plus the capability of keeping Portland’s playoffs hope alive:
...the Blazers were in an “any port in the storm” kind of situation two months ago, and while Anthony might not be all that different a player than he was during his unsuccessful runs in Oklahoma and Texas, he has proved that the player he is can still be stabilizing and productive enough to help a team—even if only one that was in dire straits—stay afloat.
Maybe that won’t mean much come the playoffs, should Portland get there. If the team is still within hailing distance by springtime, though, it’ll be at least in part because when the Blazers needed an injection of offense to prevent opponents from giving Dame the box-and-one/double-at-half-court treatment, Melo was there to act as a release valve, and to offer a reminder—not so much of what he once was, but of what he still is.
Devine has much more to say about Anthony, the Blazers, and the other four struggling teams.