The Portland Trail Blazers were finally able to break their losing streak with a win over the Utah Jazz after it stretched to eight games. Unfortunately, the week ended with another loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in dramatic fashion. With a loss to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, the Blazers finished 1-2 this past week.
There were a couple players who stood out for Portland after a more inspiring week than the previous few for the Blazers. This week’s Blazer of the Week is Jabari Walker.
Despite somewhat unassuming games in the Blazers’ two losses this week, Walker averaged 10.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in just 18.7 minutes per game over the three games. These totals were helped greatly by a monstrous 19-point, 10-rebound performance in the Portland win over the Jazz. Walker set career highs in both categories en route to his first career double-double.
Walker’s offensive impact was limited in the games against the Suns and Bucks, but he shot 54.1 percent from the field during the week, making the most of his opportunities when they came.
Apart from two steals against the Jazz, Walker’s defensive counting stats do not jump off of the page. In fact, if anything it is the 13 total fouls committed over the three games that are the most jarring stat. However, this week was full of tough defensive assignments for Walker. Facing Kevin Durant, Lauri Markkanen and Giannis Antetokounmpo is not an enviable slate for any power forward, much less a second year player.
Being tasked with that level of assignment shows the level of trust that Walker has earned as a defender. Being able to also contribute on the offensive end at a high level also serves as proof of the progress that Walker has made during his short time in the NBA. Walker has played himself into consistent minutes in Portland’s rotation and has shown time and time again that he deserves to get every minute he plays.
Walker’s defense and offense have both improved as the season has gone on. He is playing himself into a much more potent role within the Blazers, and that role only seems to be growing by the week.
There are a few honorable mentions for the Blazer of the week. The first one is Matisse Thybulle.
Thybulle averaged just six points per game this week, but he recorded eight steals and four blocks in the three games this week. His defense was a major part of the Blazers’ win over the Jazz, and was a very important part of building the massive lead against the Bucks. He has shown that he can be an effective spot up threat from three while playing elite defense. His ability to be a threat without the ball in his hands makes him valuable playing alongside great offensive weapons.
The second honorable mention is Scoot Henderson.
Scoot played his first game since Nov. 1 against the Jazz. He struggled from the field, but it seemed like the game slowed down for him a bit on offense. His turnovers were less than the beginning of the season and he recorded seven assists despite playing just 16 minutes. Against the Bucks, Henderson set a new career high with 13 points, including hitting three of his four 3-point attempts. He has still not had a true breakout game, but the slight upticks in scoring, playmaking and efficiency while seeing simultaneous decreases in turnovers and fouls shows that Henderson is on the right track.
Which Blazer impressed you the most this week? Let us know in the comments.