The Portland Trail Blazers are terrible this season. This is a fact that seems to escape many fans of the team, despite the NBA standings broadcasting the obvious truth. The current roster hasn’t gelled, the recently signed free agents haven’t yielded dividends, and the defense leaves a lot to be desired. Despite all that, there are many Blazers fans on social media proclaiming that this is a team that could do well in the NBA Playoffs.
On Monday night (Feb. 13), the Blazers hosted the Atlanta Hawks at Moda Center. With a two-point lead, the team gave up a shot at the end of the fourth quarter to allow the game to go to overtime. Things looked up when the Blazers scored the first seven points of the extra session, giving the home crowd a lot to cheer about. It was then that the deficient defense surfaced again, as the Hawks would score 12 unanswered points to steal the game on the road.
The updated NBA standings tell the story that many fans of the Portland Trail Blazers don’t want to see this year. At just 23-32 on the season, the Blazers are tied with the lowly Sacramento Kings in the Western Conference. The Kings are a team that has lacked direction for some time now, so no other team in the NBA wants to get compared to them. Yet there the Blazers sit with an identical record as the front office tries to figure out how to fix the roster.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the Blazers just completed a trade with the Denver Nuggets. In the deal, the Blazers sent center Mason Plumlee and a 2018 second-round draft pick to the Nuggets for center Jusuf Nurkic and a 2017 first-round draft pick. That first-round pick used to belong to the Memphis Grizzlies, but will now reside with the Blazers on draft day. It’s possible that the Blazers could combine it with the first-round pick that the team acquired from the Cleveland Cavaliers in a separate deal to move up the draft board.
Fans have not responded well to the front office dealing Plumlee, but he was set to become a restricted free agent during the NBA offseason. As the Blazers already have the second-highest payroll in the entire NBA, it would have been cost-prohibitive to consider re-signing him. The team already has to figure out a way to deal with the huge pay raise that C.J. McCollum is about to receive when his long-term contract extension finally kicks in. It also hasn’t helped matters that Evan Turner and his hefty salary is on the bench with an injury.
Going back to the game against the Atlanta Hawks, the Portland Trail Blazers shot just 35.9 percent from the field and just 56.0 percent from the free throw line. The team made an effort on defense but committed 34 fouls that led to 48 free throw attempts for the Hawks. That just isn’t going to get it done on most nights, especially when the Blazers allow so many points on defense. It’s an interesting coincidence that the team only allowed 109 points in an overtime loss, as the Blazers have allowed 110.1 points per game on defense this year.
The Blazers have two of the most talented guards in the NBA, and the tandem of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum ranks among the best in the league. The duo averages nearly 50 points a game (combined) but hasn’t been able to overcome deficiencies on the other end of the floor. With three first-round picks in the 2017 NBA Draft, help might not be far behind, but the current roster isn’t really good enough to compete. The front office of the Portland Trail Blazers has a lot of work to do this offseason, including finding someone to play the interior.
[Featured Image by Steve Dykes/Getty Images]