The Portland Trail Blazers are enjoying their longest winning streak of the season.
After overhauling the roster at the February trade deadline, Portland won four straight before heading into the NBA All-Star Break and showed promising signs of life.
How has the recent reversal of fortunes affected the Blazers’ place in the league hierarchy? The Athletic’s Zach Harper answered that question in his latest edition of NBA Power Rankings.
In his Feb. 15 Power Rankings, Harper used Portland’s future-focused trade moves to justify dropping the Blazers to the 26th spot and into the tier, “Tanks A Lot.” After the team’s recent hot streak, Harper has moved Portland up to the 20th spot and back into the tier, “Play-In Tournament Gives Them Life.” The stellar play from point guard Anfernee Simons has a lot to do with the upward trajectory.
So far, the Portland Trail Blazers are refusing to go away after sending out a bunch of good, veteran players. Anfernee Simons has been tremendous in the absence of Damian Lillard, and Blazers fans are justifiably excited about how good he’s been and maybe he good he can become when they re-sign him to an offer sheet this summer.
In these rankings, Harper analyzed each team’s net rating per quarter. At Week 19, Portland’s net ratings per quarter all rank in the negative, besides a +.07 rating in the second quarter. Harper said these disappointing numbers are hard to draw conclusions from because of the team’s recent roster changes, but the team’s +10.2 net rating in clutch situations is a more promising sign.
They’re going to need this team to be better throughout games consistently though, and it’s hard to tell just how much we should expect that to happen with this group. These numbers are tough to parse out simply because of the massive roster changes and Lillard not being on the court. While everything was looking pretty rough, we can at least just focus on the turnaround in clutch games. They’ve won nine of 16 clutch games since we last checked in at Week 9, and they’re now one of the best clutch teams in the league. Hopefully that holds true the rest of the way.
Elsewhere on the list, the Los Angeles Lakers ranked one spot ahead of Portland at 19th, while the New Orleans Pelicans ranked one spot behind Portland at 21st. The Memphis Grizzlies — who Portland beat in an impressive win last week — ranked 5th. The close win looks even more impressive, considering Memphis’s clutch time net rating of 15.0 ranks fourth-best in the NBA.