The Portland Trail Blazers season is in the midst of a free fall.
The Blazers lost all four of their games last week and six of their last seven. Last Friday, the team traded starters Norman Powell and Robert Covington to the Los Angeles Clippers for a modest return of three bench players and a second-round pick.
Unsurprisingly, the recent events didn’t bode well for Portland’s placement in NBA.com’s latest power rankings.
Writer John Schuhmann dropped Portland from the No. 21 spot to the No. 25 spot for the Week 17 rankings. The four-spot fall was tied with the Denver Nuggets and Brooklyn Nets for the biggest drop in the rankings this week. Schuhmann wrote the departure of Powell and Covington — who were struggling to make an impact without Damian Lillard — signaled a wrap on Portland’s efforts for the 2021-2022 campaign.
And on Friday, the Blazers seemingly punted on the season, trading two starters — Norman Powell (who had 30 points in his final game with Portland) and Robert Covington (who shot 0-for-8 in that game) — to the Clippers. The Blazers were outscored by 6.4 points per 100 possessions (allowing 115.8 per 100) in 852 total minutes with Covington and Powell on the floor together, though that breaks down to plus-3.6 per 100 in 491 minutes with those two alongside Damian Lillard and an amazing minus-20.5 per 100 in 361 minutes with Lillard off the floor.
Schuhmann wrote Portland’s acquisition of Clippers rookie Keon Johnson had the potential to make an impact, but not any time soon.
The Blazers didn’t get a future first-round pick in the deal, but they did get a first-rounder (the No. 21 pick) from last year’s Draft. Keon Johnson (a 6-4 guard who turns 20 in March) hasn’t had much of an opportunity to play with the Clippers and his career-high (15 points) came in garbage time of a blowout loss in December. He seems to have more athleticism than skill at this point, but the Blazers have certainly had some success in regard to developing guards.
With three days before the Feb. 10th NBA trade deadline, the Blazers sit outside the Play-In field as the No. 11 seed in the Western Conference standings.