POWER RANKINGS » Back On Track In Week 7
It's been a couple of weeks since we last had an opportunity to check in on the weekly Power Rankings -- spending 11 days on the road followed up by a holiday week will do that -- and in that time, the Trail Blazers experienced both their lowest low and highest high so far this season. Losing four straight, capped by a confounding loss to the Cavaliers, qualified as the worst the first six weeks had to offer, though following that up with three wins, which included stellar offensive performances from Carmelo Anthony and a franchise-record 10 blocks by Hassan Whiteside in a win versus the Bulls, gave the team and their fans something positive to rally around going into December after a tough November.
After spending the better part of November on the road, the Blazers have just four games away from the Moda Center in December, starting with a nationally-televised contest versus the Clippers Tuesday night in Los Angeles. While the competition this month might be tougher -- the Blazers face the Clippers, Lakers (twice), Nuggets and Jazz before the start of the New Year -- at least they'll have the opportunity get a little momentum going at the Moda Center after playing 13 of their first 20 games on the road.
So after going 3-0 last week, here's how the Trail Blazers came out in the Week 7 edition of the weekly Power Rankings...
• The panel of voters at ESPN has the Trail Blazers in the middle of the pack this week at No. 15, six spots better than last week...
The Blazers have stabilized a bit, winning three of their past four. He did it! Carmelo Anthony saved their season! (Well ... also, Damian Lillard returned from injury exactly four games ago.) And the three wins have been against the Bulls, Thunder and Bulls again. But that's not to dismiss Melo's positive impact. He has been excellent in his role thus far, and that's kind of the point: With Lillard back, Melo can fit how he is supposed to and complement Portland's dynamic backcourt as a spacer and sometime-iso scorer. This week will tell us a lot more about the fit, though, with games against the Clippers and Lakers looming.
The folks at ESPN have the Trail Blazers behind the Nets at No. 14 and ahead of the Suns at No. 16.
• John Schuhmann at NBA.com has the Trail Blazers at No. 18 this week, seven spots better than last week...
Pace: 103.1 (9) OffRtg: 109.9 (9) DefRtg: 110.4 (21) NetRtg: -0.5 (15)
The second week of Carmelo Anthony (22.3 points per game on an effective field goal percentage of 63% and a team-best plus-56) was much better than the first (13.0 on 40%, minus-19), the Blazers are 3-0 with their new starting lineup, and they've scored almost 120 points per 100 possessions in 89 total minutes with Anthony, Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum on the floor together. On Wednesday against Oklahoma City, Anthony took advantages of the Thunder's switching by posting up their guards (though his friend Chris Paul did get him with the 'ol pull-the-chair trick) and shooting 8-for-8 inside of 16 feet. He already has more catch-and-shoot 3-pointers (10) than Mario Hezonja (eight) or Nassir Little (four), and his final bucket against Chicago on Friday was an empty-side pick-and-pop with Lillard that looks like a go-to set going forward. The schedule gets tougher this week, with the Blazers having their first meetings with the two-star Clippers (Paul George missed the first game) and the Lakers.
Schumann has the Trail Blazers behind the Suns at No. 17 and ahead of the Magic at No. 19.
• Collin Ward-Henninger at CBS Sports has the Trail Blazers at No. 18, eight spots better than last week...
All hail Carmelo Anthony, savior of the Portland Trail Blazers! Well, maybe not quite, but both the Blazers and Carmelo played well in a much-needed 3-0 week. Playing the Bulls twice helps, but those are games the Blazers were losing in the not-too-distant past. After a rocky start to his Blazers tenure, Anthony has averaged 22.3 points on 57 percent shooting and 46 percent 3-pointers during Portland's win streak. It's an incredibly small sample size, but so far this season the Blazers are a plus-4.4 in defensive rating and a plus-14.5 in overall net rating when Anthony is on the floor.
Ward-Henninger has the Trail Blazers behind the Magic at No. 17 and ahead of the Suns at No. 19.
• Tommy Beer at Rotoworld has the Trail Blazers at No. 15 this week, three spots better than last week...
A few weeks ago, there was plenty of doubt as to whether Carmelo Anthony would ever set foot on an NBA court again. Today, he's a part of a Portland team that has won three straight. And, during this current winning streak, Melo is averaging 22.3 points and 7.7 rebounds with a True Shooting percentage of 65.7%. During these past three contests, Portland has outscored their opponents by 56 points in the 96 minutes he's been on the floor. In the 48 minutes Anthony hasn't played, the Blazers have been outscored by 12 points.
Beer has the Trail Blazers behind the Nets at No. 14 and ahead of the Suns at No. 16.
• Zach Harper at The Athletic has the Trail Blazers at No. 16 this week, four spots better than last week...
Granted, they didn’t play good competition this week with two wins over Chicago and a win over OKC at home, but these are the kind of wins the Blazers need to correct their path this season. Some of this is believing they’re turning the corner into being good enough again, but I liked the way they rebounded against bad competition.
Harper has the Trail Blazers behind the Timberwolves at No. 15 and ahead of the Kings at No. 17.
• Phil Watson at Hoops Habit has the Trail Blazers at No. 18 this week, a seven-spot improvement over last week...\
New addition Carmelo Anthony seems to be fitting in just fine, topping the 20-point mark twice last week and recording his first double-double since Feb. 4, 2018, when he was with Oklahoma City, in Friday’s win over the Bulls, finishing with 23 points and 11 rebounds.
Damian Lillard seemed to get back into form after missing a couple of games, averaging 22.7 points, 7.7 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.0 steals in the three games, logging 31.2 minutes a night and shooting 46.5 percent overall and 37.5 percent (9-for-24) from 3-point range.
Watson has the Trail Blazers behind the Piston's at No. 17 and ahead of the Spurs at No. 19.
• Grant Hughes at Bleacher Report has the Trail Blazers at No. 17 this week, four spots better than last week...
The schedule helped, as Portland ran off three straight wins against the Bulls, Thunder and Bulls again this week, completing its first three-game winning streak of a season that was looking bleak. And though the sample sizes are still too small to be dispositive, it's worth noting that Carmelo Anthony has graded out as a positive asset since joining the Blazers.
He scored 25 points against the Bulls last Monday, then put up 19 more on 9-of-11 shooting in Wednesday's (kinda sorta) homecoming in Oklahoma City. Incredibly, that performance was the most efficient shooting night of Anthony's career.
Even if aided by a soft slate, the Blazers are back from the brink.
Hughes has the Trail Blazers behind the Kings at No. 16 and ahead of the Thunder at No. 18.
• Michael Shapiro at Sports Illustrated has the Trail Blazers at No. 16 this week, three spots better than last week...
Good for Carmelo Anthony. 22.3 points per game in his last three outings and a trio of Portland victories. Some shooting regression is likely, but Anthony doesn’t look out of place as a quality rotational cog. Portland is receiving a facsimile to OKC Anthony, who was a useful regular-season player. The Blazers have been rewarded for their chance.
Shapiro has the Trail Blazers behind the Suns at No. 15 and ahead of the Magic at No. 17.