The Portland Trail Blazers had a rough week that saw them go 0-4 with losses to the New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Minnesota Timberwolves and Phoenix Suns. All four of the losses came by double-digits, and three of the four were by more than 20 points.
The losses were to be expected of a rebuilding team, but the blowouts were a bit discouraging. Despite that, Sunday’s competitive game against Phoenix injected some life back into the team and there were some standout performances during the week. This leads to an unconventional pick for Blazer of the week: all three Portland 2023 draft picks.
Scoot Henderson, Kris Murray and Rayan Rupert all set a new career-high in the 127-116 loss to the Suns. Henderson scored 33 points, Murray had 13 and Rupert enjoyed his first game in double-figures with 11 points. With all three players missing time so far this season, either with injury or due to developing with the Rip City Remix, the trio appeared in every game this week for the first time all season.
Henderson has been steadily improving over the course of the season, and it all culminated with his 33-point, nine-assist, seven-rebound performance. He struggled early in the week, including posting the second worst single-game plus/minus ever in the loss to the Thunder while shooting just 19% from the field. Still, Henderson’s abilities as a ball-handler and playmaker have continued to improve, even though the arc hasn’t always been linear.
His efficiency numbers are still not where they should be — Scoot shot 11-31 against Phoenix on his way to 33 points — and he is yet to have a really great game while shooting well from the field. However, his passing vision and athletic ability, two things that can not be taught, are very good for a 19-year-old point guard. The efficiency will come, especially if he can improve on his seemingly unsustainably low shooting percentage around the rim.
Murray averaged 8.3 points and 2.8 rebounds per game this week, while playing the most minutes out of any week this season. His three-point shot has not yet found the bottom of the net with consistency, but a 3-6 performance from behind the arc against the Suns set a career-high in made three-pointers.
Murray also showcased some defensive ability throughout the week. He recorded a steal in all four games, including three against the Suns. His draft profile projected him to be a 3-and-D wing, something that Murray has shown he can be in spurts so far this year.
Rupert has played mostly spot minutes in garbage time this season. Luckily for him, there was plenty of garbage time opportunities this week. When he was given a chance to log some minutes this week, he showed his potential as a defensive specialist. His best game of the season came in the loss to the Suns where he recorded a career-high for points, and tied career-highs in rebounds and assists. His 3-3 shooting from three was also a career-high.
Rupert was drafted as more of a project than a plug-and-play player. This week he showed flashes of someone further along in his development than expected at this point in his career.
Which Blazer impressed you the most this week? Let us know in the comments!