With the return of Damian Lillard to typical form, the Portland Trail Blazers moved up two spots from 23rd to 21st in this week’s power rankings from Zach Harper of the Athletic. As Harper notes, that improvement means a lot for the Trail Blazers going forward.
Weekly slate: Loss to Suns, Loss to Grizzlies, Win over Hornets, Win at Grizzlies
Random thought: It’s funny to think about how many of the Portland Trail Blazers’ problems get solved by Damian Lillard getting back to being Damian Lillard on the court. For whatever reason (injury, new ball, insane situation with the franchise, random slumps), Lillard has struggled to start this season. Now that he’s apparently back to normal with his body, we’ve seen a glimpse into the regular Dame we’re used to the last two games. It’s not a surprise either that the Blazers have won both of those games. Dame went for 43 in a win over the Hornets, making 12 of 19 from the field and 6 of 11 from deep. Then Sunday against Memphis, he had 32 points on 9-of-19 from the field. He went to the line 26 times total in both games. If Lillard starts playing along these lines as regression hits the mean in the face, the Blazers will stabilize. They need more than that to thrive, but at least they’ll stabilize.
The Blazers are between the Charlotte Hornets and the New York Knicks in this week’s rankings.
You can read the entire set of power rankings here (subscription required).