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Visualizing the Trail Blazers’ season

What do the Blazers look like so far?

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Despite losing CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic for several weeks, Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers have kept winning games. Portland currently has a record of 18-12, good enough for No. 5 in the Western Conference so far. Let’s take a look at four visuals that illuminate the team’s strengths and weaknesses.

Damian Lillard is the entire offense

This chart comes as no surprise — Lillard is practically the entire offense for the Blazers. Dame is directly involved in the outcome of roughly 70 percent of possessions when he’s on the court and blows away his teammates in both assist percent and usage percent. McCollum was following a similar trend prior to his injury, coming up in second place for both categories.

Among the rest of the team, Carmelo Anthony stands out for having the highest usage percent (i.e. he shoots, is fouled, or turns the ball over more often than teammates) and a middle of the road assist percent.

Melo shoots a LOT of mid-range jumpers

Anthony shoots from the mid-range more that twice as often as any of his teammates, other than Rodney Hood. Again, this is not a surprise, but quantifying the gap between Melo and his teammates serves to illustrate how dramatically his play style diverges from the rest of the team. Perhaps concerningly, Anthony and Hood are also near the bottom of the team’s true shooting percent ranks.


This one caught me by surprise. Despite multiple injuries the Blazers are No. 20 in number of starting lineups used. Head coach Terry Stotts has managed to find some continuity even as key players succumb to extended absences. Perhaps the stability played a role in the team’s recent winning streak?

Offense good, defense bad

The Blazers are good at offense and bad at defense. We all know this. But two things jump out to me from the above graphs: 1) Portland is barely above the “break even” line when looking at offensive and defensive rating. Despite that they are several games over .500. So far, the team’s record seems to be an overachievement relative to their box score performance, and 2) Only Robert Covington has a positive defensive box plus/minus and Gary Trent is clustered with Enes Kanter and Anfernee Simons as the worst defensive players on the team via box score.

Readers, do you see anything interesting in these graphs? Let us know in the comments below!