The Portland Trail Blazers currently own a 14-10 record in a competitive Western Conference with two of its best three players sitting on the sidelines.
ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz joined Zach Lowe on the latter’s podcast to talk their All Star selections, however made time to profess their love for the rugged, determined Blazers.
Lowe marveled at the team’s ability to keep winning without CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins
“Dame, Terry Stotts, it’s just like duct tape over there. Duct tape over the crack in the wall, duct tape over the cupboards falling off, the hinges, duct tape, duct tape, duct tape, we snuck out another win.”
“One every three games Melo gives you 20 off the bench. And Kanter gives you 14 and 15, they just find ways. People want to (bleep) on the Blazers because “oh they are another mid-rung playoff run … two small guards.”
“The Blazers just endure, and they are currently enduring and if you count them out of the playoffs when CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic got hurt, I got news for you, they’re not out of the playoffs right now. They just endure and Dame, he’s so good that it’s just, it’s crazy how good he is, he’s just so so good, he’s a show every single night. He singlehandedly gives them a chance to win every game.”
Arnovitz continued the praise by emphasizing the current Blazers squad was still winning despite being fundamentally flawed.
“They are so damn resourceful. The magnitude of those losses, you lost your two best frontcourt players. You lost obviously your second-best guard and second-best player overall. They have this vaunted depth that now has been completely depleted. Simons is learning the hard way, it’s not like that guy has sort of blossomed, they’re taking lumps while they develop, while they win games, while they stay in the playoff hunt.”
“There is not a non-flawed, deeply flawed player on that floor, every single moment of every single game, with the exception of Dame Lillard.”
Lowe giddily expressed his love for Gary Trent Jr.
“You know who I love watching on that team, Gary Trent Jr. Just absolute balls of steel. That guy – and I mean this affectionately – he thinks he is a superstar, he thinks he can go one on one against anybody and get a bucket.”
“He has a really sneaky good old school midrange iso game. He’s shooting threes with people in his face, I don’t care, I love watching Gary Trent and he makes winning plays, he makes winning plays on both ends of the floor. I’m a huge fan.”
With Arnovitz joining the chorus.
“I also think he factors to be eventually a really decent defensive player, he’s big.”
“The guy is big, he’s strong and he can get stronger frankly, I think when the whole thing is there, I think he’s going to be a quintessential three and maybe not capital capital D, but like three and lower case to mid-size D.”
“I do think 6-6 guys who can play that way are just not at all that frequent any more. It’s a really good piece for them. It’s always like, yeah, three small guards and whatever, no, this guys is a legitimate three in terms of size and stature and if you can put the skills with it, it’s a great keeper for them.”
You can listen to the podcast here. The Blazers talk starts at the 70-minute mark.