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Blazers Embrace New Look On Defense

With more mobile big men to close out, the Blazers will shift defensive coverages.

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NBA: Preseason-Sacramento Kings at Portland Trail Blazers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

With new additions to the team, the Portland Trail Blazers will look to change their defensive strategy for the upcoming season, reports Jason Quick of the Athletic. Historically, the playbook of Head Coach Terry Stotts has focused on rim protection versus defending the perimeter, and in the Bubble, the team ranked 27th in defense out of 30 NBA teams.

Stotts called it “a difficult decision” to shift his defensive philosophy, but he felt he needed to adapt to the NBA’s evolving emphasis on the perimeter game and to his roster, which now features agile and mobile bigs in Jusuf Nurkic, Enes Kanter, Zach Collins and Harry Giles.

“I think the league has changed and our personnel has changed,” Stotts said.

Stotts recognizes his defensive arsenal is different this year. As Quick points out, the Blazers have only been in the defensive top 10 twice in Stotts’ career, so it was time for a change. Damian Lillard likes the predictability of the new system.

“The main thing I like about it is we have certain things that are just law,” Lillard said. “In the past, it was like … there was a lot of ifs and changes based on what the personnel is. (Now) it’s the same regardless of who we are guarding.”

The team will look to attack more on defense.

“The idea is that we will still have multiple coverages: we’ll switch, show, blitz, drop, be up … but our primary coverage will be more aggressive than it has in the past,” Stotts said.

Stotts acknowledged that the game has changed, and his playbook needs to change to keep up with it.

“I was reluctant to make the change because we had some good defensive teams with that coverage,” Stotts said. “But I just think the game has changed, and we kind of have to adjust how we attack things.”

You can read the whole piece here.