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All the Things the Blazers Are Bad At

A reader wants to know what’s going wrong in Portland. We oblige.

Portland Trail Blazers v Oklahoma City Thunder Photo by Joshua Gateley/Getty Images

The Portland Trail Blazers will carry a 10-28 record into their matchup with the Phoenix Suns on Sunday. After an incredibly tough road trip, morale is low and doubts surrounding the franchise high. Simply put, it’s not a good day to be a Blazers fan.

Portland’s plummet has caused a bit of anxiety, evident in submissions to the Blazer’s Edge Mailbag. People have plenty of suggestions for change: style of play, rotations, trades, staff. But one question struck me in both an earnest and comical sense. Let’s take a look at it today.

Dave,

What’s wrong with this team? They went from playing hard every night and losing to just losing every night. I know injuries are a part of it, The coach keeps saying they just aren’t making their shots. That sounds like an excuse to me but what do I know? Can you explain in a nut shell what’s happening?

Olivia

The “in a nutshell” part is hard. Their collapse has been so overwhelming and multi-faceted that explaining it would take a book. You already know the obvious reasons and have stated some of them: injuries, rebuilding and imbalanced roster, lack of depth, etc. Lost in this quest for explanation is the simple realization of how far off the path the Blazers are.

The only way to answer your question is to take it literally. What is happening? Let me show you what.

Here are the statistical categories in which the Blazers rank 25th or lower among all NBA teams right now.

Offense

  • Points per Game (30th)
  • Points in the Paint (29th)
  • Assists Per Game (30th)
  • Assists Per Field Goal Made (30th)
  • Assist to Turnover Ratio (30th)
  • Effective Field Goal Percentage (30th)
  • Three-Point Percentage (26th)
  • Two-Point Percentage (30th)
  • Overall Shooting Percentage (30th)
  • Field Goals Made Per Game (30th)
  • First Quarter Scoring (28th)
  • Second Quarter Scoring (26th)
  • Third Quarter Scoring (28th)
  • Fourth Quarter Scoring (29th)
  • Turnovers Per Game (27th)
  • Turnovers Per Play (27th)
  • Opponent Blocks Per Game (28th)
  • Opponent Block Percentage (30th)
  • Opponent Steals Per Game (30th)
  • Opponent Steals Per Play (30th)
  • Turnovers Per Game (27th)
  • Turnovers Per Play (27th)
  • Opponent Personal Fouls Per Game (28th)
  • Opponent Personal Fouls Per Play (29th)

Defense

  • Opponent Fast Break Points (30th)
  • Opponent Points in the Paint (28th)
  • Opponent Two-Point Percentage (30th)
  • Opponent Overall Shooting Percentage (25th)
  • Opponent First Quarter Points Per Game (29th)
  • Defensive Rebounds Per Game (25th)
  • Defensive Rebounding Percentage (28th)

And they narrowly missed the cutoff (24th) in Opponent Assists per Game and Opponent Effective Field Goal Percentage.

All of this together leaves Portland losing games by an average of about 10 points per night, 27th in the league.

The Blazers are Top 6 in a couple categories: Offensive Rebounding, Forcing Turnovers, Opponent Three-Point Percentage, and Fourth Quarter Points Allowed. That last one is likely a result of playing on the wrong end of multiple blowouts, facing opponents’ deepest bench players in the final period.

Long story short, we just listed 31 statistical categories the Blazers rank very poorly in. We covered the things they do at an elite level in 21 words. And those came with an asterisk.

I’m not being flippant in saying, “That’s the reason they’re not winning.” Right now, they’re simply not capable of it at an extended rate.

One or two systemic weaknesses would be enough to cast a team’s NBA season in doubt. The talent level is too high, scouting too thorough, to disguise things your team does horribly for long. Opponents are merciless. They will run the same sets into those same gaps over and over again until you prove you can stop them. Similarly, they will double team the same player every dang trip down the floor until someone else in the offense proves they merit defensive coverage.

The Blazers don’t have one or two weaknesses. They have bunches. That’s why beating them looks ludicrously easy right now...because it is.

Thanks for the question! You can send yours to blazersub@gmail.com and we’ll try to answer as many as we can!