Surprise, Surprise…Guess Who The Blazers Miss?

The Blazers will never admit what is wrong with them. Their win in Brooklyn stopped the bleeding but their win in Brooklyn is what is exceptional about them and what is the elephant in the room. What was exceptional on a Sunday in New York was C.J. McCollum. He simply made everything.  33 points in 31 minutes on 19 shots. What is the elephant in the room is the Blazers are one dimensional. They have the worst front court production in the league. They miss LaMarcus Aldrdige. Their front court is a mess. They are last in points and last in rebounds and near the bottom in shooting percentage. They don’t have balance between their dynamic outside game and their inside game. Add to that, their bench is horrible too, almost at the bottom of the league in production. The problem with all of it is the Blazers overpaid free agents this summer so they have zero flexibility. And their defense is abhorrent.

Where to start? Ok, with the fans.They aren’t feeling too optimistic about the season but they don’t remember that after fifteen games last season they were 6-9, so an 8-7 record is acceptable.

Last year, at this same time, the Blazers had just completed a 7-game losing streak. They started the year with only 6 home games. But even with that brief history, there are indicators that the Blazers aren’t a contender and may not even be a playoff team.

They give up the third most points in the NBA. They are 25th in offensive rebounding. 18th in blocks. 28th in steals. They are just okay in shooting efficiency, 44.9%.

Once you get past the great Blazer duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum there is a drought of production. The point drop is 11.4. Lillard averages 28.0 points a game. C.J. McCollum is good for 22.9 points. And then Maurice Harkless is 11.5. After Harkless there is another drop. Allen Crabbe is good for 9.5 points. And after Crabbe, Evan Turner is averaging 7.9 points.

The Blazers bench is 24th in points (29.1), 19th in rebounds (15.6), 20th in assists (6.6) and 28th in field goal percentage (41.4%). It puts all the burden on Lillard and McCollum to be great every night because the truth of the matter is they get very little help. Lillard and McCollum have to be extraordinary every night to stay in games. They can’t have an off night.

2016-17 2015-16
Damian Lillard 28.0 points, 46.0%, 34.9% from three 25.1 points, 41.9%, 37.5% from three
C.J.McCollum 22.9 points, 48.3%, 45.9% from three 20.8 points, 44.8%, 41.7% from three
Al-Farouq Aminu 6.4 points, 27.4%, 25.0% from three (8 games) 10.2 points, 41.6%, 36.1% from three
Maurice Harkless 11.5 points, 49.3%, 39.3% from three 6.4 points, 47.4%, 27.9% from three
Allen Crabbe 9.5 points,45.6%, 36.8% from three 10.3 points, 45.9%, 39.3% from three

Evan Turner who was signed as a $70 million dollar free agent is having a horrible year shooting the ball. Career low in points, worse than his rookie year. Career low in field goal percentage, worse than his rookie year. Career low in steals.

Turner is making 16.7% of his catch and shoot baskets, 38.2% of his pullups and 40% of his shots when he is within 10 feet of the rim. He is best when he puts a shot up early in the clock. With 18 seconds and counting, he is a disaster, less than 35%.  He is not making contested shots so guess what defenses are doing? Contesting his shots.

Evan Turner Points Field Goal % 3-Point Percentage Rebounds PER
2014-15 9.5 42.9% 27.7% 5.1 12.8
2015-16 10.8 45.6% 24.1% 4.9 13.6
2016-17 7.9 38.3% 23.8% 4.2 7.8

Turner had an encouraging game in Brooklyn, 19 points, 66%, 4 rebounds. But the problem on a macro scale is defense.

The Blazers best player, Damian Lillard is not the worst defender, that would be Alan Crabbe. But Lillard is next up. Crabbe’s defensive rating is 115. Lillard’s is 114. The best defender on the Blazers is Al Faroq- Aminu. His defensive rating is 106.

Defensive Rating

  • Allen Crabbe, 115
  • Damian Lillard, 114
  • Maurice Harkless, 113
  • Evan Turner, 113
  • C.J. McCollum 112

They gave up 114 points to the Clippers and two games later 113 points to the Nuggets. The Warriors scored 127 points on them and the next night Phoenix scored 118 points. Six days later the Suns scored 121 points and the Blazers won only because they scored 124 points. The next night the Clippers scored 111 points followed by Sacramento’s 120 points, 20 points more than their average. The embarrassment the Blazers had on their home floor against the Chicago Bulls only put the nail in the coffin that this is a pathetic defensive club. The Bulls scored 113 points. The Rockets and James Harden touched them up with 126.

What now?

As great as Damian Lillard is on the offensive end and as a leader, he can’t plug up the Blazers holes. Last year, when everyone predicted the lottery for the Blazers they surprised everyone. They didn’t do much in the off-season to address their basic problem, a lack of athleticism and explosiveness and skill in the front court. They have the worst front court in the NBA.

46.3 points, dead least. 28.2 rebounds dead last. 43.6% field goals, 26th. The Warriors, Clippers, Spurs, Grizzlies have a front court All-Star. The Blazers do not. This is the year they feel the pain from the LaMarcus Aldridge defection. They do not have a replacement.

This is the year it shows who they miss. And why.

photo via llananba