3 Sneaky bright spots from the Trail Blazers’ recent play

Toumani Camara, Portland Trail Blazers
Toumani Camara, Portland Trail Blazers / Ron Schwane/GettyImages
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Duop Reath’s floor spacing

Perhaps the most disappointing piece of news from the Blazers’ season so far has been the season-ending knee injury suffered by Robert Williams III. Moses Brown received the first crack at replacing Williams’ minutes, but Reath has emerged as the replacement and has solidified his role as the Blazers’ new backup five.

Reath’s sparser minutes mean he hasn’t had a chance to make a Camara-sized impact, but his skill set as a stretch big has changed the geometry of the Blazers’ second-unit offense.

After canning five threes as part of a 37-point performance in his G-League debut with the Rip City Remix, Reath has carried over his 3-point shooting ability to the Blazers.

Shooting a shade below 36 percent on just fewer than 4 attempts per game, Reath’s quick release makes him a viable pick-and-pop threat. He hasn’t displayed much ability as an interior threat, but he has flashed nice touch around the basket and capable passing acumen.

One of the more underrated aspects of Reath’s play is his synergy with Scoot Henderson since both started coming off the bench. So far in his rookie season, Henderson has struggled navigating pick-and-rolls. Without having established a credible jump shot, his defenders can go under when they get screened, taking away the pass to the roll man.

As a stretch big, Reath offers Henderson a safety valve in the pick-and-pop, releasing pressure from Henderson to manipulate the bigger defender.

By stretching the floor, Reath creates more space in the interior for Henderson to attack, an aspect of Scoot’s game he has struggled to unleash at the NBA level.

At the end of the Blazers’ victory against the Cavaliers—in which Reath had a positive plus-minus of 14—Henderson put the Blazers firmly in control with six minutes left in the fourth quarter by penetrating the paint and slinging a one-handed dart to Reath for a corner three, an illustration of how the Australian big has helped Henderson unlock his driving game.