Last week, the Trail Blazers rallied from a disappointing loss to the Bulls to secure two victories to close out the frame. Thanks to those consecutive victories to finish the week, coach Terry Stotts’ squad maintained their middle-of-the-pack position in the latest round of power rankings.
ESPN’s power rankings placed the Blazers at No. 12, again. ESPN contributor Royce Young highlighted performances from both Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum in the rankings.
The Portland backcourt is rolling. But it’s been in a somewhat staggered fashion lately, with Damian Lillard going off for 39 points against the Wolves one night, then CJ McCollum dropping 37 against the Kings another night. Lillard or McCollum has led the Blazers in scoring in all of the Blazers’ nine games this season. The looming concern, though: Defensively, the Blazers’ bench units are a problem, which isn’t too surprising considering Enes Kanter and Carmelo Anthony are two top options. When Anthony and Kanter play together, the Blazers allow 115.9 points per 100 possessions.
Bleacher Report’s Mo Dakhil moved the Blazers up two spots to No. 14 in B/R’s latest rankings. Dakhil pointed to cited Portland’s strong offense and underperforming defense in his explanation.
As a team the Blazers are sporting a top-five offense, but their 23rd-ranked defense is holding them back. Even though it was not top-notch opponents, the Blazers put up a defensive rating of 103.5 last week. It will take time, but they have plenty of defensive tools. Gary Trent Jr. and Derrick Jones Jr. are doing well as point-of-attack defenders with Robert Covington rotating on the weak side.
The Blazers would climb up the rankings if they find their defensive gear.
Finally, CBS Sports NBA contributor Colin Ward-Henninger knocked the Blazers down three places in the rankings to No. 14. Ward-Henninger defended Portland’s placement by highlighting the weak competition that the Blazers faced last week.
The Blazers offense had the good fortune of playing the three worst defenses in the NBA this week, so they must be somewhat disappointed to only come away with two wins. Carmelo Anthony was unable to hit a game-tying 3-point attempt in the closing seconds against the Bulls in their only loss of the week. CJ McCollum continues his career campaign, scoring 27.7 points per game on 47 percent 3-point shooting in the three games
You can read each set of rankings by using the links featured above.