This is the second edition of HoopsHabit’s Roundtable Discussion. Each week, five questions will be sent to the staff writers covering the teams in a specific division. This week, we cover the Northwest division, and also a few All-Star questions.
1. Biggest surprise in the division?
Chris Reichert, Trail Blazers columnist- Portland Trail Blazers. I mean c’mon they’re 27-9 and are 3rd in the Western Conference just a game back of the San Antonio Spurs. NOBODY in their right mind thought they would be doing this well through 36 games. I cover them and I had them winning 46 games this season and even that was viewed as “optimistic” by most.
Edmund Stoer, Timberwolves columnist- Portland seems a reasonable answer but I have to pick Denver. I expected this team to be terrible before the year and without Gallinari this roster looks positively underwhelming. However, somehow Brian Shaw has made it work, riding Ty Lawson to a .500 recond, without even dominating their home schedule like they usually do. I don’t think they will make the playoffs but seeing as I expected a nightmare year from them, I have to give them this for remaining so competitive.
Arash Darbandi, Nuggets columnist- The biggest surprise in Northwest has to be the Portland Trail Blazers and Damian Lillard. With Chris Paul, Rajan Rondo and Derrick Rose out, Lillard currently holds the “Best Point Guard in the NBA” title. He leads the NBA in 3.3 three pointers per game and it’s not like he is just chucking and praying. His 44.6% from downtown is good enough for 6th in the NBA. If they have to rely heavily on the three ball come playoff time I wouldn’t consider them as contenders. With that being said, Lillard and the Trail Blazers are not only the biggest surprise in the Northwest but in the NBA.
Phil Watson, Assistant Editor- Portland Trail Blazers, by a huge margin.
Gerald Bourguet, Assistant Editor- Gotta be the Blazers. While we could mention Minnesota’s solid point differential indicating their record should be way better than it is, nobody saw this Portland team coming. They were expected to be a fringe playoff team and yet they’re competing for a top four seed in the loaded Western Conference. LaMarcus Aldridge has been transcendent while Damian Lillard has made more threes than anyone in the NBA and is a late-game assassin. They’ve come back down to earth recently, losing four of their last seven games, but other than the Phoenix Suns this is the biggest surprise of the NBA this year.
Zachary Bright, Jazz columnist- Could it really be anyone but Portland? I mean, some improvement upon last year certainly would have been expected, but how many people could have honestly said Portland would be neck and neck with San Antonio and Oklahoma City for best in the west? Or the best offensive team in the league? Aldridge won’t win it, but averaging nearly 24 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, and a block certainly earns him a spot in the MVP conversation. Lillard isn’t too far off either, and he and Matthews are shooting over 40% from 3. Portland’s quick turnaround from last season is the ultimate hope for fans of rebuilding teams.