Sorry fans, if you think the Trail Blazers are going to tank this season, you are mistaken. Still close to the playoffs, they are playing to win.
The idea of tanking isn’t a good one for the Trail Blazers. There are a number of reasons that this team shouldn’t even entertain the idea of tanking. Let’s run through why it would be a bad idea.
Proximity to the eight-seed
This is probably the biggest reason that the Blazers shouldn’t start tanking or resting guys. Prior to the Charlotte Hornets game, this team only had two wins less than the eighth seed. That the eight-seed is the Memphis Grizzlies also shows you how a team can quickly fall out of the playoff race.
The Grizzlies were predicted to be one of the worst teams in the league this season, yes they’ve made a run. But if there was an injury to one key piece then they would quickly shut it down. The bottom of the western conference is weak, it only takes a three or four game win streak to vault up the standings.
Key personnel aren’t far away
Jusuf Nurkic is likely to return in the next few weeks. His return may only bring small on-court benefits to start off with, but the squad loves him so his return will give everyone a boost. What Nurk does well is the small things. We may not see him throwing down monstrous dunks straight away, but his boxing out, tough screens and smart passing will help this team right away.
With Nurk, don’t watch the box score. Watch the game and you will see his impact
Strength of schedule
Analysing the teams the Blazers have played so far, they have had the eighth toughest schedule. Looking forward, they only have the 17th toughest schedule. We aren’t making excuses for previous losses, but they had a lot of tough games against stronger opponents.
With an easier schedule coming up there is no reason this team can’t go on a run similar to their conference rivals the Grizzlies.
Trades / injuries
Trades on either the Blazers or on other teams can quickly change a teams fortune. This is the same with injuries. Teams can fall out of the playoff race with a major injury to a key player. We saw last year the Los Angeles Lakers were eliminated from playoff contention with an injury to LeBron James. With a lot of the west contenders relying heavily on one or two players, a serious injury can change a teams hopes quickly. A failed trade could have the same impact on a team.
Damian Lillard and co are too competitive to tank. When fit we have a great squad, let’s get Nurk back and see how this squad does. We are far too talented to tank or rest our best dudes!