Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NBA. Throughout the year we ask questions of the most plugged-in Portland Trail Blazers fans and fans across the country. Sign up here to participate.
This week, we have two pressing questions for Blazers faithful. The first deals with Trail Blazers’ head coach Chauncey Billups. Portland is 3-8 in their last 11 games, including an 1-6 slump that they are currently in the midst of. Only the Houston Rockets have been worse in either of those spans.
Now situated at No. 11 in the west, the days of Rip City being perched atop the conference seem like ancient history. Portland is a bottom-10 team in points (No. 22), assists (No. 21), steals (No. 24), and blocks (No. 25). They supplement those metrics with a solid yet improvable efficiency clip, sitting at No. 12 league wide with a 47.7 percent connect rate from the floor.
Billups has chosen a path in the proverbial fork in the road, and has strayed away from a zone defense that was a major factor in their success. The NBA is comprised of highly sophisticated offenses that can expose a zone given time. But, there was no indication that it was under mass exploitation at the time in which it was abandoned — now seemingly well over 10-15 games ago. Therefore, let us know in the comments if Billups’ coaching is the major deterrent to their success, and if it needs upheaval.
Working in conjunction with the scrutiny heaped upon coach Billups amidst his recent slump is the appraisal of Jusuf Nurkic. While Nurk has had his share of bright spots in the season, including a pristine 39.7 percent 3-point clip and solid rim protection, there are a list of qualitative shortcomings that kill the Blazers on both ends.
Not showing up on the stat sheet are his hands. He is not always able to secure the ball off of quick, low or high passes. This often leads to turnovers. Secondly, his footwork inside is mainly conducive to him using his size to get to his spots, but rarely results in him getting by his defender. This leads to wild shots beamed at the rim as well as charges committed.
On defense, he currently averages 1 block per game, but out of the pick-and-roll is a blow-by against quicker guards, many of whom are the most dynamic in the league in his division alone. Therefore, let us know how you’d grade his performance through 41 games and if Portland should be looking to unload the Bosnian Beast at the deadline.
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