The Portland Trail Blazers are enjoying a mini-break after a rough start to their 2022-23 NBA schedule. That’s given us a chance to breathe and address some of the question pouring into the Blazer’s Edge Mailbag. The team gets back into action tomorrow with a tilt against the Denver Nuggets at 7:00 PM, Pacific. Before that happens, though, let’s look at one of the more unusual questions in the inbox.
Let’s take a break from analyzing, put down the sharp pen for a minute, and take another direction. What do you love most about our team so far? Go wild. Go crazy. Just gimme something good.
Ooooh. For me, this is easy. I love Portland’s shiny, new forwards. I don’t even have to talk about Jerami Grant scoring 23 a game, shooting 46% from the three-point arc. Those numbers will probably come down. I just love all the things he and Josh Hart can do. They slice. They dice. They make Julienne Fries.
Hart has been absolutely beautiful on the boards. 8.5 rebounds per game is fantastic. He’s also helping out defensively. Some nights he’s overmatched. There’s nothing you can do about that. But the number of times he’s forced the ball away from his man, helped out on the eventual shot, and then gotten the defensive rebound...chef’s kiss. 48.4% shooting from the field isn’t bad either. He’s only shooting 32.6% from the arc, but I suspect that’ll rise slightly. You don’t notice Hart taking bad shots. Heck, sometimes he doesn’t take any shots. He’s more than capable. He’s just pulling back his offensive game in favor of teammates, but still contributing fully on the other end. That’s just what this team needs.
Grant isn’t pulling back, but stepping up. His contributions have been huge, more than even the most optimistic supporters could have imagined. But he also plays defense well.
Here’s the scary thing about Grant. Other than scoring, his per-minute production is as low now as it’s been in his career. Yet he’s still doing everything the Blazers need. He actually has another gear defensively, and can probably add a few more rebounds. And even though his usage percentage is high, his turnovers per minute remain modest.
There’s not much to dislike about the Grant-Hart tandem and there’s plenty to celebrate. To me, that’s easily the most lovable part of the Blazers so far this year.
How about you, though? What do you love best about the team after two months of play? Share in the comment section below. And don’t forget that you can send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org!