Surprisingly, the Portland Trail Blazers moved up a couple of spots in this week’s power rankings from Zach Harper of the Athletic. While he’s at it, he reminisces about what Rasheed Wallace brought to the court.
22. Portland Trail Blazers (Previously 25th), 26-44, -7.2 net rating
Weekly slate: Loss at Hawks; loss at Knicks; loss at Nets; loss at Pacers
Blast from the Past: No offense to some of the great players and legends who have donned a Portland Trail Blazers uniform, but none of them will ever surpass what Rasheed Wallace meant to me. While he had the reputation as this fiery monster on the court because he audibly disagreed with the officials, Sheed is one of the best people to ever play in the NBA. He was as talented as any power forward during his era, which included Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Webber among others. Wallace never quite wanted to dominate like those guys did, even though he was more than capable. He wanted to play a certain way, help keep things glued together and try to win games.
We saw that go to the next level when he was traded to Detroit in 2004 on the way to his NBA championship. But with the Blazers, he never stopped being entertaining. He never stopped being a presence. And he never stopped being underappreciated as a legend of his era. Don’t let anybody discount the Sheed era just because the Blazers couldn’t get over the hump or because he set a record of 41 technical fouls in one season.
But Harper isn’t really actually impressed with the Blazers: they are only in the 22nd slot because they keep flirting with the play-in.
Why are they ranked here? No Anfernee Simons for a bit. No Damian Lillard for a long time. A bunch of starters hurt or traded away. Even though they’re still in the mix for the 10-slot, the Blazers are just waiting for this season to end so they can reassess their plan to put talent around Lillard with brand new flexibility for this roster. They only rose this high because they’re not in the brink of elimination tier yet.
At 22nd, they are just above the New York Knicks and the elimination tier.
You can read the entire rankings here.