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.
CJ McCollum is giving it everything he’s got. McCollum leads the league in distance traveled this season, averaging 2.75 miles per game. Since the injury to Damian Lillard, he’s averaged 2.91 miles per game. His minutes have increased from 35.9 to 39.0 per game, a jump of about 8 percent. His points per game are up a whopping 44.5 percent, from 22 per game to 31.8.
How is he scoring? His field goal percentage (44.7) is holding steady compared to season average (44.6), as is his three-point shooting (39.7 percent over the last five games compared to 38.4 percent for the season). He’s scoring by putting up nearly six more shots per game plus three more free throw attempts.
In addition to hoisting up 25.8 shots per game, McCollum is shouldering a massive load of distributing the ball. Over the last five games, McCollum has dished out 45 of their 92 assists. The player who has the most after him is Trevor Ariza. He has ten.
This type of load is considerable, especially when you note the players around him. This is not a shot at the other players; it is a function of the fact that the top players are all on the bench, wearing suits. While Damian Lillard is clearly the top player on the team, he is aided by having McCollum alongside him: to be a release valve when Lillard is double teamed, to handle the ball on occasional possessions, and to bear the heavier burden for guards on the defensive end for much of the game. It’s not just that McCollum is stepping in for Lillard; he’s stepping in for Lillard without a player of his own caliber to ride alongside him.
Fast break points. Over the season, Portland averages 13.4 fast break points per game, fourteenth in the league. However, over the last five games, they average 18 points per game on the run which would put them in fourth, between the very exciting Milwaukee Bucks and Memphis Grizzlies.
Trevor Ariza has always been proficient in transition. Here is a classic finish:
McCollum’s fast break points have increased from 3.5 to 6 per game. With almost as big of a leap, Gary Trent Jr.’s fast break points jumped from 1.2 to 3.4 per game.
Here is Trent forcing a turnover against the Pacers and finishing on the other end.
Look, this might not seem like much, but when four of your presumed starting five are on the bench, you find what you can to hang on to. And who doesn’t love watching Gary Trent Jr. on a breakaway? Here, look at Trent grabbing the ball after a Detroit turnover. Tell me this isn’t going to be fun to watch for years to come:
Classic night for Melo against Detroit. 34-year-old Carmelo Anthony reached into his bag and put up 32 points with spin moves, catch-and-shoot threes, jab steps, post ups, even a backwards alley-oop.
Happy Birthday Mario! Hezonja turned 25 on the 25th. He returned to action this week after missing several games with a sprained ankle. It took a few games to shake off the cobwebs but on Saturday after Anfernee Simons departed with his own ankle injury, Mario was called upon. In 13 minutes, he shot 4-5 from the field, grabbed four rebounds and handed out two assists.
This portrait of Terry Stotts. Coach Terry Stotts, who spent the final two years of his high school career in Indiana, will be inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame later this spring. The Pacers welcomed him with a classic high school photo.
So many spin moves. Even the big guys are getting into the action on Saturday against Atlanta. Here is Whiteside:
And Biggie too:
Caleb Swanigan - light on his feet! Spin move to the basket. pic.twitter.com/mQ9iCKGlbR— True Blazer Fan (@trueblazerfan) March 1, 2020
Anfernee Simons is more than dunks and catch-and-shoot threes. How about a sky-high block? Anfernee block:
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