The Trail Blazers have suffered two losses in their latest three-game stretch that followed the All-Star break. That rough restart to the season triggered a slight regression in the latest round of power rankings.
ESPN’s rankings moved the Blazers back one spot to No. 9. Contributor Royce Young focused on Carmelo Anthony’s superb play off the bench.
Carmelo Anthony’s re-resurgence has been delightful, with him averaging 21.2 points on stellar percentages this month. He’s hitting big shots and adding the kind of offensive punch the Blazers need off the bench. He should get some votes for Sixth Man of the Year. However, the numbers still don’t entirely favor him, with the Blazers almost nine points per 100 possessions worse when he plays.
The Athletic’s Zach Harper moved the Blazers back to No. 12. Inside his analysis of the Blazers, Harper suggested that Portland should pursue defensive reinforcements at the trade deadline.
They probably need another defensive guy. With Nurkic and Collins back, the defense should improve quite a bit, especially if it allows Robert Covington to zero in on assignments and play better than what we’ve seen from him. But the Blazers still need another wing guy to help cut off the paint and challenge 3-point looks. Derrick Jones Jr. can do that some, but they need as much defensive help as possible.
The Blazers have four games against two opponents on this week’s schedule. Portland will host both New Orleans and Dallas for the upcoming four-game stretch.