Damian Lillard is not happy with the Portland Trail Blazers.
Following a 126-109 shellacking at the hands of the Houston Rockets on Thursday night, the Blazers are now 7-6, losers of three of their last five tilts, with a defense that ranks 29th in points allowed per 100 possessions, and an offense that barely places in the top half of efficiency.
Lillard, the wordsmith that he is, offered a pointed assessment of Portland’s play thus far, per Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com:
“We kind of suck right now,” said Damian Lillard. “We’re usually a pretty good offensive team, we’ve been bad on offense and bad on defense. We’re trying hard but we’re not always making the smartest plays, sometimes letting the offensive end effect the defensive end. It’s not good enough. We’re not very good right now.”
It’s not an unfair take by any means. The Blazers still have their heads above .500, but they also have the net rating (minus-4.9) of a sub-30-win team.
That’s not something you expect from a team that reinvested a crap ton of money in its core this past summer, in addition to shelling out $70 million for Evan Turner. And it’s Turner’s arrival that’s part of the problem.
The Blazers haven’t come up with a good way of using him on offense with C.J. McCollum and Lillard yet. They tend to feature him more in the post or off the ball altogether. His strong suit, though, is acting as a pseudo floor general; head coach Terry Stotts needs to try running Lillard and McCollum off more screens while Turner dominates the rock when those three share the floor.
And that only solves the offensive woes. The Blazers still have that bottom-two defense to worry about. Their three-point prevention has been okay, but everything else is basically a mess.
If things don’t change drastically on one side of the floor, it won’t be long before Portland finds itself slipping out of the West’s playoff picture.