I’ve noticed something with the Portland Trailblazers. Although it’s been rough going the past few games without their key players such as Damian Lillard, Joe Ingles, Anfernee Simons, Eric Bledsoe, and Jusuf Nurkic, the reserves of this team have genuinely stepped up. It’s two players in particular that the typical NBA fan has never heard of. Brandon Williams and Trendon Watford. Of course, we can’t forget about what Josh Hart has been doing recently.
Let’s start with Brandon Williams. Williams is a very patient guard that favors driving to the basket. Although the majority of his shots come from floater range or right at the rim, he does take a few too many threes, as he is not the shooter he’d like to be. Still, at 22, he may be a rookie, but he knows the game better than 19-year-olds coming fresh out of college. That knowledge is enabling him to score at the rate he has been, averaging 15.6 PPG in the past 5 games.
Trendon Watford is another young player for the Blazers that has shown promise amidst injuries to star players. He isn’t a spectacular player, he isn’t overly athletic, and he doesn’t have a consistent three-point shot. However, he has a high basketball IQ for his age (21) and he finishes at a high rate around the rim. He’s shooting 75.6% at the rim and can finish through contact. Although he hasn’t been a standout factor, he’s getting the job done in the absence of his successors. He’s averaging 17 PPG in the past 5 games including one 27 point game.
Finally, Josh Hart. Hart has always been a solid player in the league, but now that he’s the pinpoint of the offense, he’s thriving. He’s taking a career-high in shots and three-pointers this season and has averaged 17.6 FGA per game in the last 5 games. With those shots, he has dropped almost 60% of them, shooting 51% on threes. He’s scored an average of 28.6 PPG in the past 5 games, including the outstanding 44 point game versus the Wizards.
Let’s be honest, the Trailblazers aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. The minor trade of CJ McCollum did little to nothing, as the Blazers acquired Nickeil Alexander-Walker. Tomas Satoransky, and Didi Louzada. None of these players mattered in the first place, and Alexander-Walker and Satoransky have since been moved for Joe Ingles and Elijah Hughes. The only positive outcome from this trade was the FRP and two SRPs acquired from New Orleans and the other SRP sent from Utah. At 34, Joe Ingles is still a solid player, but his time in the league is dwindling. The only part of this offseason that will benefit them in the future is the picks and Elijah Hughes if he amounts to something. Right now, the Blazers need to be thinking about their future, which doesn’t involve patching holes with short-term players that might not even be with the team when 2023 rolls around.