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Power Rankings: Blazers Remain in the Middle

The Trail Blazers are off to a 3-3 start. Where do they slot in the power rankings?

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Portland Trail Blazers v Golden State Warriors Photo by Ezra Shaw/undefined

The Portland Trail Blazers currently boast a .500 record two weeks into the NBA regular season. Last week, they had some great moments — a big win over the Lakers and blowing out the Warriors — and some bad ones — getting blown out by the Clippers and giving up 62 points just from Steph Curry. If the first two weeks are any indication, it seems Blazers fans are in for another rollercoaster of a year.

But what do other outlets make of Portland’s up and down start? Here’s where the Blazers stand in most outlets’ power rankings.

Portland moved up one spot in ESPN’s power rankings, landing at 12th. Royce Young noted there isn’t much you could do when Curry goes off for 62 points, but he also cited the bench’s defensive efficacy as a question mark, even if CJ McCollum stays hot.

It has been an up and down two weeks for the Blazers, but there wasn’t much they could do about Sunday’s game against the Warriors. After beating them in San Francisco two days earlier, they played Golden State again and watched Steph Curry go supernova with 62. The Blazers’ bench is a question, particularly on the defensive end, with heavy minutes for Carmelo Anthony and Enes Kanter. But one thing that has been a bright spot to open the season is CJ McCollum’s aggressive play. A notorious slow starter, McCollum has come out of the gates hot.

The Athletic’s Zach Harper has the Blazers right in the middle of the league at 15th. The Warriors loss dropped them a few spots in Harper’s eyes, and while they have had good moments this year, there are reasons to be slightly concerned about the defense.

Poise with a dash of panic. Losing to Utah or the Clippers this season? Not a big deal. Beating the Lakers? That’s a great win. Torching Golden State? It’s happening a lot these days. Getting lit up for 62 by Steph Curry? It’s defensible because of his greatness, but that’s a bad loss by the Portland because their defense is not very good right now. Everything is sloppy with their defense, and they’re not a squad that’s built to force turnovers or get a lot of deflections. The Blazers still need time to gel like plenty of teams, but this effort to stop opponents from making shots is rough.

Mo Dakhil of Bleacher Report has the Blazers in the same spot at 16th, noting that McCollum and Enes Kanter have been solid so far despite the up-and-down start.

CJ McCollum has started the season scorching hot, leading the team in scoring (28.0) and is second in assists (5.7) while connecting on 43.1 percent from three. Damian Lillard has been putting up good numbers, but it has not felt like he has fully gotten into his flow.

One surprise has been how good Enes Kanter has been for the Blazers off the bench. His 9.2 rebounds a game leads the team.

It was a very up-and-down week. It started on a good note with a nice win over the Lakers before they got routed by the Clippers. Then the Blazers started their miniseries against the Warriors with a victory. But in the second game, they allowed Curry to explode for 62 points while giving up 137 points.

And finally, Colin Ward-Henniger of CBS Sports had the Blazers higher than most at 11th. Ward-Henniger writes that Lillard and McCollum will be just fine; it’s just a matter of the help they have surrounding them.

Portland picked up an impressive win over the Lakers Monday and blew out the Warriors Friday, but suffered a bad loss to the Clippers and watched Steph Curry drop 62 points on them Sunday. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum continue to assert their dominance offensively, but they’ve been unable to get consistent help around them. The healthy return of Gary Trent Jr. and Carmelo Anthony should help in that department, but the defense is where the real strides need to be made.

Agree or disagree with where the Blazers stand? Let us know below.