The Blazers have played three games this season, winning two and losing one. If the season ended today, Portland would be locked in a six-way tie for third place in the Western Conference. They would finish the season with a better record than the Oklahoma City Thunder, and be the only team besides the Timberwolves from the Northwest Division to make the playoffs. (Note: The Lakers and Nuggets are tied with the Kings for last place in the west.) To celebrate the Blazers’ brief moment of playoff contention, here are some notable stats and individual notes, all of which are completely sustainable over an 82-game season.
- Damian Lillard has a 100% assist percentage in overtime, as well as an infinite assist-to-turnover ratio. His A/TO mark is 3.5 for fourth quarters. Lillard is also shooting extremely well in the clutch: 50 percent from the field and 100 percent from three when the Blazers are trailing by five with less than five minutes to go; 75 percent from the field and 100 percent from three when they lead by five or less with less than five minutes to go, and a perfect 100 percent on 2-for-2 shooting when they lead with less than three minutes remaining. This proves that the Blazers have now found their clutch weapon. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have the ball in Lillard’s hands in the fourth quarter than less-clutch players like LeBron James, a massive choke artist. (Or is that not a thing anymore?) Lillard still has a lot of catching up to do in the championship rings department before he can overtake Kobe Bryant as the most clutch player ever, as he’s won exactly zero rings through three games.
- Lillard’s per-game averages through three games: 21.3 points on 47.1 percent shooting, 9.0 assists. For comparison, through his first three games, Kyrie Irving averages 13.3 points on 37.5 percent shooting, 6 assists. Chris Paul’s averages in his first three NBA games: 13.6 points on 43.7 percent shooting, 5 assists. Jason Kidd’s first three games: 11.3 points on 36.3 percent shooting, 7.3 assists. This clearly indicates that Lillard is not only a lock for Rookie of the Year, but a future Hall of Famer as well.
- Nicolas Batum is shooting 8-20 on threes this season, giving him a very good 40 percent mark. All eight of his makes have been assisted. Every unassisted three he’s shot this season has missed.
- J.J. Hickson is averaging 14.1 rebounds per 36 minutes, and until yesterday led the league in both offensive rebounding rate and total rebounding rate. As it is, he’s pulling down 21.2 percent of all available rebounds while he’s in the game.
- Joel Freeland is averaging an astonishing 18 rebounds per 36 minutes, having grabbed three boards in his six minutes of action against Oklahoma City.
- Fellow rookie Victor Claver isn’t too far behind him, averaging 9 boards per 36 minutes, having pulled down one in his four minutes of playing time yesterday.
- Sasha Pavlovic is having something of a career renaissance, if PER is any metric to go by. His 8.3 mark this season is his highest since the 2008-09 season, when he posted an 8.6 PER. His mark this year is only one point below his career PER of 8.4, which is over halfway to being considered an “average” NBA player. But how many “average” players have averaged 32 minutes per game in the Finals?
- Pavlovic literally cannot miss in situations where the Blazers are ahead by 6 to 10 points. He’s shooting 100 percent from the field in eight shot attempts during those situations. Half of that comes from his veteran leadership, and the other half comes from having averaged 32 minutes per game in the Finals.
- In his six minutes played against Houston, his season debut, Ronnie Price has a negative PER of -0.6. This brings his career average down considerably, to 9.2.