The Portland Trail Blazers have hit the quarter mark of their 2021-22 NBA Season with a 10-10 record. Given expectations of improvement, that’s not terribly encouraging. But not all is dark and gloomy. Several Blazers players have shown bright spots over the first 20 games.
As is our tradition during Thanksgiving weekend, we want to honor those performances with our quarter-season awards. We’re going to run down five categories, offer players who might be considered prominent in each, and invite you to comment on your favorites and the reasoning behind your choice.
The time for the final, and ultimate, award is here. Who is the Trail Blazers MVP so far?
So here’s the deal...we can’t name one, definitively. It’s a head-scratcher and no mistake.
Normally Damian Lillard walks away with this award. He still leads the team in scoring at 22.0 points per game. He’s also unquestionably the center of gravity, the team’s most talented player. But his averages are down so far that we just named him the team’s Most Disappointing Player so far. The cognitive dissonance of also naming him Most Valuable—though he surely is, by traditional measures—seems jarring.
CJ McCollum would be the next candidate. He scores nearly as much and his percentages are higher than Lillard’s. But McCollum has been inconsistent on offense this year, let alone defense.
Norman Powell is the Most Improved player and his stats are good, but can a guy playing out of position as a fourth starter really be considered the most valuable, especially when he scores 4-6 fewer points than the stars and doesn’t absolutely change the game on defense?
We could mention Jusuf Nurkic’s all-around play, but he’s not much more consistent than McCollum. Plus he’s averaging only slightly more minutes than Anfernee Simons and Nassir Little, and has been losing ground to Larry Nance, Jr.
At this point, we’re going to throw up our hands and go to the polls. Who would YOU nominate as the Blazers’ Most Valuable Player so far? End our day on a high note and make your argument for someone who’s distinguished themselves at the quarter-pole mark of the season.