I live up in the Pacific Northwest and there are a good amount of Portland Trail Blazer fans up here — some lifers but a lot have adopted them as their team since the Seattle SuperSonics left to Oklahoma City (do NOT bring this up if you visit!). People talk to me and say “Oh yeah, the Blazers look good this year with that young kid Lillard, the big guy Aldridge, and that French guy Batum…”; however nobody seems to ever mention Wesley Matthews in these conversations.
Matthews has been underrated from day one as an NBA player, starting with the 2009 NBA Draft where he went undrafted. After playing a season in Utah and averaging 9.4 points and 2.3 rebounds a night, the Blazers scooped him up and gave him a big payday that was somewhat unexpected by all. Wes signed a five-year offer sheet worth $32.5 million to move up to Portland and be the new starting shooting guard. He’s still being doubted even to this day as the ESPN NBA Rankings came out and he was listed at No. 130 — behind new teammate Robin Lopez (WOW).
The Blazers have high hopes this season — Damian Lillard is a budding star coming off of his Rookie of the Year campaign, they have a top-three power forward in LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum looks primed to finally break out, they signed a legitimate defensive center in Robin Lopez and Matthews just keeps doing his thing quietly and efficiently. After five games they sit at a nice 3-2 start with their most recent win over the Sacramento Kings Friday night 104-91 at the Moda Center. Yes, Lillard and Aldridge led the way as usual but Matthews is having a blistering start to the 2013-14 season and Friday night was no different as he went 7-for-11 from the floor (2-for-3 from deep) with 18 points and seven rebounds.
Lost in the shuffle is that Matthews also guards the other teams’ best offensive on the perimeter night in and night out. He doesn’t wear down, he rarely misses games due to injury and you never hear him complain about his role or anything else. Matthews is that guy that you love to have on your team, but hate to play against; because he’s so unassuming that you forget about him for a second and he hits a dagger right to your heart.
Wes has really come into his own under head coach Terry Stotts and the added depth has only motivated him even more. Matthews heard the rumblings about C.J. McCollum taking his starting spot eventually (prime example: here — see “battle for starting shooting guard spot”) and has turned up his play as a result. Again, we are only five games into this young NBA season but check out the pace Matthews is on:
Wes Matthews: 17.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists — 53.4 percent from the floor and 52 percent from 3.
His previous career high for points per game is 15.9, which he set in the 2010-11 season (his first with the Blazers) and his career high in rebounds is 3.4, which was set in 2011-12. He is on pace to demolish both of those numbers and be the x-factor for the Blazers in this playoff chase that we call the NBA season. Making the playoffs is the only option for this young team as their star power forward could decide to jump ship at any time — Aldridge has not fully committed to being a Blazer long-term yet (story to come) so winning now is the only option to keep this team moving in the right direction.
One thing is for sure — Matthews will be pestering the other teams’ best perimeter scorer and hitting timely 3-pointers all season long. Only three players last season shot better than 45 percent from deep for the year — Stephen Curry, Kyle Korver and Jose Calderon; Wes is shooting 52 percent from outside right now — that obviously won’t last but he is now a legitimate NBA sniper.
**All stats via www.basketball-reference.com unless otherwise noted.
Topics: 3 Point Shooters, Damian Lillard, Jose Calderon, Kyle Korver, Lamarcus Aldridge, NBA, Nba Draft, Nicolas Batum, Robin Lopez, Stephen Curry, Terry Stotts, Underrated, Undrafted Free Agents, Wesley Matthews