NBA Christmas: A gift for each team’s wish list in 2018

Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images /
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Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images /

Portland Trail Blazers: Consistency from the bench

It’s pretty simple for the Portland Trail Blazers, who started the season 10-3 before going 8-10 over their next 18 games: When their bench plays worth a damn, this looks like a competitive playoff team. When the second unit doesn’t show up, Rip City looks awfully vulnerable.

In 18 wins this season, the Blazers’ bench has averaged 40.1 points per game, posting .475/.382/.748 shooting splits with a plus/minus of +3.6. In 13 losses, those numbers plummet to 26.8 points per game on .402/.293/.714 shooting splits with a -7.8 plus/minus.

Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic are chugging along as they always have, but they can only do so much. The playoffs are going to be how this team is measured after underachieving there last year, but a nice Christmas present for the starters would be some reliability coming off the bench.