Led by a series of superb performances from Damian Lillard, the Trail Blazers put together a 4-0 record last week. That output was reflected in the latest round of power rankings that dropped on Monday.
In ESPN’s rankings, the Blazers moved up three spots to finish inside the top 10 at No. 9. ESPN’s Royce Young, once again, pointed to Lillard’s production with CJ McCollum out of the lineup.
It was Dame Time in Big D, with Damian Lillard serving up one dagger missile after another to finish off the Mavericks on Sunday. Quietly, the Blazers have won four straight and six of their past seven and are settling into the top six of the West. With all the attrition the Blazers have battled already this season — injuries to Jusuf Nurkic, CJ McCollum and Zach Collins — to be in the upper half of the West is an accomplishment. And it begs the question: At fourth in the league in scoring, ninth in assists and maybe first in leadership, shouldn’t Dame be in the MVP conversation by now?
Inside CBS Sports’ rankings, a system that only evaluates the previous week of performances, the Blazers shot up to No. 5. CBS Sports contributor Colin Ward-Henninger praised Gary Trent Jr. and Lillard inside the rankings.
Damian Lillard must have seen his name being left out of recent MVP discussions, as the superstar point guard went on a tear this week, leading his short-handed Blazers to a perfect week to make it seven wins in nine games. Lillard averaged 30 points and 7.3 assists this week, while Carmelo Anthony came up clutch, averaging 21.3 points, including nine in the fourth quarter, on 45 percent 3-point shooting during the four games. Portland put up an impressive 122.5 net rating this week as Gary Trent continues to fill in admirably for CJ McCollum.
The Athletic’s latest rankings moved the Blazers up to No. 9. Contributor Zach Harper cited Portland’s ability to perform at a high level without key players in his explanation.
A perfect week for the Blazers with two very good wins over Philadelphia and Dallas. The Blazers lost key players over the past month, and they’re finding ways to make it feel like nothing is wrong.
Finally, Bleacher Report’s Mo Dakhil moved the Blazers up to No. 10. Dakhil pointed to Carmelo Anthony and Trent in his assessment of the Blazers’ strong week.
The Blazers got a vintage Carmelo Anthony performance all last week. He averaged 21.3 points and shot 44.8 percent from three. Anthony’s 24 points and game-winning free throws against Philadelphia highlighted his week.
Another player who has stepped up for the Blazers since McCollum’s injury has been Gary Trent Jr. He is averaging 17.7 points on shooting 45.0 percent from downtown over the last 13 games.
This week, the Blazers are set to participate in three contests. The first two outings are part of Portland’s current three-game road trip.