Two Notable Takeaways From Portland’s First Road Trip

Chauncey Billups, Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Chauncey Billups, Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /

After a 4-2 finish to their first of three six-game road trips on the season, the Blazers showed resilience and how deep their team goes. This team is well-coached and plays hard every night. The defense continues to win their games, while role players have played starter minutes and have delivered. Today we will talk about two of the biggest takeaways from the eventful road trip.

Dame, Grant, and Ant are on of the Best Trios In The Association

Jerami Grant has found the perfect balance of responsibility and accountability here in Portland on both sides of the ball. Once underutilized in Denver, over-utilized in Detroit, and with two guards who stretch the floor four levels, he has found the perfect match in Rip City. In the last five games of the road trip, Grant averaged 26 points, on 55% shooting from behind the arc, showing how dangerous he can become as a three-level scorer.

The presence was felt after he was given the night off in Charlotte, nursing an ankle injury. He came in on the second night of the back-to-back, scoring 27 points, grabbing eight rebounds, and four steals.

Anferenee Simons also scored 23 points against a healthy Pelicans team that did not play harder than the Blazers. Simons continues to show he is the perfect counterpart to Damian Lillard,  improving on both sides of the ball and has also become even more efficient.

The combo guard has shown that he is comfortable being the go-to scorer when Dame needs a night off. Simons has gained attention nationally for his jump this season and will be in contention for Most Improved as the season continues.

Portland is 6-0 when Damian Lillard starts and finishes a game this season. His All-NBA performance so far this season has been noticed nationally and at this rate, he is at the top of the MVP conversation as Portland sits in the first place, one of the only trios averaging over 20 points each.

Young Guys Shine and Making a Case For Real Minutes

Next-man Up Mentality has been something Portland has lived by early in the season and the whole team has embraced it.

Trendon Watford has impressed with his progressive decision-making in the short-roll/ high post-decision-making. Watford has found a similar role to Little and Winslow, where he is effective without the ball in his hands consistently.

He has found his nose to the glass constantly while shooting well from the free-throw line so far this season, but he just has to become consistent in his decision-making and defending for Coach Billups to find even more minutes for him.

Jabari Walker has only gotten better since Summer League and the second-round pick has proved to become a big defensive anchor off the bench, especially with Jusuf Nurkic sitting out the last few games with a hip injury. Walker is a workhorse that will make it hard for Billups not to find minutes for him. He does not ask for the ball, he will go after it and get the rebound himself, consistently making effective and positive plays.

The later second round pick has become one of the best steals in the draft so far, he will only get better as the season progresses.

The Blazers face a San Antonio team that left Golden State with a demoralizing defeat last night, losing by more than twenty, so if the Blazers shoot well, they could cruise to a win tonight after two days of rest.