It is perhaps the great must of Portland. The Oregon franchise has been fixed in the playoffs for many years, but that has not hidden the shortcomings of a team as above-average as far from the best. The defense, something so maligned at times as imperative at the moment of truth, has weighed them down on too many occasions; and of course, once again they want that to change.
To be exact, in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons the Blazers have been ranked 28th and 29th in rating defensive. To alleviate such a disaster they have pulled an elite attack, but as we already said, such a response on the floor is more of a patch than a real solution. Thus, it is now Jusuf Nurkic who expresses that the team is ready to make an important defensive leap under the leadership of Chauncey Billups, who has replaced Terry Stotts on the bench.
“I just want to feel loved and have some more support. By that I mean a different style of play, more inside-out play, more chances and chances of succeeding depending on where you are placed. It’s about the coach and where they put you, and I think Chauncey has realized that certain people are going to have one to three points down, but the team will be better off moving the ball, playing together and even improving on the defensive side. ” , tells Jason Quick of The Athletic.
Nurkic doesn’t talk about big changes, but he does talk about rotation tweaks that could balance the team more. Last season Portland was 8.4 points better per 100 possessions with the Bosnian center on the track. The problem is not his performance, but that he has only been able to play 45 regular season games adding the last two seasons. If he is healthy and Billups manages to adjust some pieces, the Blazers may improve, but it seems difficult for them to do so enough that they sneak into the NBA’s elite.
(Photograph by Steve Dykes / Getty Images)