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Anfernee Simons Keeping Games Interesting

In this week’s Mom’s Favorite, Team Mom highlights dazzling dunks from Ant, increased ball movement, and some interesting suit choices.

Milwaukee Bucks 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 11, January 5-11. Miami (L), Toronto (W), Minnesota (L), Milwaukee (L)

Mom’s Favorite

Let Ant dunk. I have accepted how this season is going. Perhaps as time goes on and players return from injury the Blazers will go on a run that will take the playoffs. They have done it before and I have no reason to think they can’t do it again.

In the meantime, what is keeping me interested in the games is watching the development of young players and watching for individual gems to brighten the otherwise gloomy games.

Whenever Anfernee Simons steps onto the court the possibilities seem endless. His shot selection is excellent. I never ask myself, why did he shoot that? Each one looks like it is going in. He’s not exactly torching the nets (48% from 2 and 33% from 3) but he keeps shooting. His ability to get to the rim, either by driving to the hoop or catching alley-oops has improved throughout the year and he is on pace to be a real headache for the rest of the league.

We need to see Simons in the dunk content. His vertical leap is so astounding that he won’t need props to impress. He’s only dunked ten times this season but each one is like a piece of art. Even Giannis agrees, as you can tell by the business decision he made not to try and contest this breakaway.

Who loves alley-oops? Nate Mann and I do. And Anfernee caught two lobs from Damian this week.

Don’t despair, even if the Blazers are not winning, there are some notable performances to keep us going.

Hello Jaylen Hoard! Hoard was most recently called up from the G League on January 2. Since then he has played in 4 games—two short stints against the Wizards and the Heat followed by significant stretches (17 minutes each game) against the Timberwolves and Milwaukee. While the short-handed team struggled to find a rhythm, Hoard worked hard to make a difference. He fought through screens, showed no fear against bigger, more experienced players, followed his shots and although his shooting wasn’t great, he got to the line twice each game. He even forced Giannis into a turnover, leading to a fast break that ended with the Blazers getting points from a goaltend AND a foul.

More ball movement? Over the past week it seems like the Blazers have been moving the ball a bit more. The most significant example of this was the game-winning shot by Carlemo Anthony against Toronto. On the inbounds, Anthony could not get it to Damian so he fed it to McCollum. McCollum couldn’t get a good shot so instead of taking more dribbles to get a better shot for himself he found Carmelo who caught it behind the three point line and then drove to his favorite spot to sink the shot.

But beyond that, the ball just seems to be moving a bit more. There has been an uptick in total passes per game over the past week. The season average per game is 242.4 passes per game, up to 246. This isn’t a huge leap considering that 10 teams are passing more than 300 times per game. However, we’ll take movement where we can get it. Carmelo Anthony who is averaging 21.7 passes per game with the Trail Blazers made 35 passes vs Toronto and 32 vs Milwaukee.

Hassan Whiteside hits a 3. That’s something new!

Some excellent fashion choices this week.

Lillard has been sporting a spectacular custom Dame Jr pendant:

Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins are back in the Night at the Roxbury suits:

Old teammates, still family. Blazers saw quite a few old friends this week, starting with Meyers Leonard on Sunday.

Leonard’s team may have gotten the win but he didn’t get out without being posterized by Anfernee Simons:

In Minnesota, Lillard and McCollum posed with former Trail Blazers, assistant coach David Vanterpool, Shabazz Napier and Noah Vonleh.

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good to see old friends

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While Jusuf Nurkic missed Jake Layman (see the second photo in the series):

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And finally, Wesley Matthews, Robin Lopez and Pat Connanugton brought the fight back to Rip City. Well, Lopez and Matthews did anyway. As far as I can tell Connaughton ran and hid behind Ilyasova.

Low numbers. Sometimes you have to just enjoy the little things. An alert fan noted that the Blazers were playing #00, 0, 1, 2 and 3.

That will do it for this week’s Mom’s Favorites. Keep your head up Rip City; things will get easier eventually! 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

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