In this week’s edition of the Athletic’s power rankings, the Portland Trail Blazers move up a place from 24th to 23rd, largely due to the contributions of Anfernee Simons. Zach Harper notes that despite the absence of Damian Lillard, Simons’ play has made a difference.
Biggest takeaway from the hardship era: Does it feel like we’re going to see Damian Lillard anytime soon? I think the near future of the Portland Trail Blazers doesn’t involve him. Not because he’s going to demand a trade, but because he is going to continue to miss a lot of time with this abdominal injury. The Blazers have a six-game road trip coming up, and it doesn’t sound like Lillard is going to make that trip. That means a lot of Anfernee Simons, and he’s been on a really good run since the tragic passing of his grandfather. Simons is getting the opportunity to show what he can do consistently, and he’s capitalizing on it. The Blazers season isn’t going well, and it doesn’t seem as if it’ll turn around any time soon, but at least there’s some fun hope with how Simons is playing.
Harper released his rankings prior to the Blazers’ win over the Brooklyn Nets, but one has to wonder if Ant read them before the game.
You can read the entire rankings here (subscription required).