The Portland Trail Blazers are on a 6-game win streak and playing good basketball, but there is a forgotten X-Factor who needs more minutes – Nassir Little.
The Blazers have done a fantastic job to not only stay afloat through all the key injuries, but they are on a 6-game win streak putting them at 18-10 and equal 4th in the Western Conference standings.
But there is a somewhat forgotten X-Factor who needs more playing time in this Portland rotation, and that man is Nassir Little.
Nassir Little needs more minutes
What Little has already proven: Shooting
Little has proven in the 2020-21 season that his jump shot has improved significantly since his rookie season. Coming out of the draft, the big question mark on Little’s game was his ability to shoot the three-ball.
In his rookie season, Little shot just 32% from long range, attempting 1.3 per game. During the games in which Little had starter quality minutes though, it was obvious that teams were willing to leave him open and that Little himself was hesitant to take these looks, often passing them up for drives to the basket.
In year number two though, Little’s form is looking excellent, and in his 13 appearances is shooting an incredible 61% from behind the arc. Granted, the sample size is smaller, however, Little’s confidence in taking these shots and the ability to knock them down is key.
Despite his game not being the most polished of everyone on the roster, when Little is on the floor, it is rare to find someone out there giving more effort than he does. He skies for every rebound, hustles back on defense, and is a great source of energy for the Blazers.
His offensive rebound percentage has gone up 1.5% from last year, proving his hustle and effort when trying to real in the offensive rebounds.
Nassir is also always diving around for loose balls and steals while on the floor, making those pivotal energy plays on defense that can be few and far between for the Blazers.
Despite his individual defensive numbers going slightly down in year number 2, Little was drafted out of North Carolina for his ability on the defensive end. With his strong frame and sound technique, Little can be the missing piece on defense for the Blazers.
His defensive rating of 118.1 is above the Blazers’ overall team average of 115.9, proving that he makes the team better defensively when he is on the floor. He can guard any position with his combination of athleticism and strength, making him a weapon.
With all of these factors and the injuries that have struck the Trail Blazers, extraordinarily Little is playing fewer minutes per game this season than he did in his rookie season. Maybe, rather than make a trade, they just play a guy like Little more.
With performances like the 30 points against Milwaukee and the perfect shooting night against OKC, Little has proven he can be the X-Factor that the Blazers may need to make a serious run at the powerhouses in LA.