NBA power rankings: Steep slide for Blazers

KGW's Jared Cowley, Orlando Sanchez and Nate Hanson make their predictions for the Blazers next three games, including a clash at the Moda Center against Jusuf Nurkic's old team.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Blazers' unimpressive run of late — losing five of eight, including an embarrassing loss to the Brooklyn Nets at home — was reflected in the team's steep slide in the latest batch of NBA power rankings.

Portland, after a 3-1 start to the season, has won only three of its past eight games. The Blazers hit a low point of the young season with Friday night's loss to the Nets.

During this stretch of recent games, neither the defense nor the offense has performed well. Over the past eight games, the defense ranks 13th in the league, allowing more than 104 points per 100 possessions, while the offense ranks an uncharacteristic 23rd in the NBA, scoring just under 102 points per 100 possessions.

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Things don't get any easier for the Blazers. The Denver Nuggets (8-5), winners of six of their last eight, are in town Monday night, while the surprising Orlando Magic (8-5) complete the Blazers' six-game homestand Wednesday.

Here's a look at where the Blazers rank in the latest NBA power rankings.

RANKINGS RELEASED MONDAY

Sporting News: Blazers rank No. 10

Last week's ranking: 6

Portland's neighbors: Memphis Grizzlies at 9, Minnesota Timberwolves at 11

What they wrote: Portland’s rebounding percentage has gone from 49.8 last year (18th) to 54.2 percent this year (first). That’s cut opponents’ attempted field goals from 86.2 to 83.0, and Portland has been the third-most improved defensive team this season (from 107.8 points per 100 possessions to 100.5).

Sports Illustrated: Blazers rank No. 11

Last week's ranking: 7

Portland's neighbors: New York Knicks at 12, Cleveland Cavaliers at 10

What they wrote: The Blazers have one of the league’s best closers in Damian Lillard, but things have been going horribly wrong in crunch time of late. Portland looked all out of sorts down the stretch against Brooklyn last week, turning the ball over and missing rebound opportunities. That came one game after an awkward attempt at a game-winner from C.J. McCollum that wouldn’t go. Perhaps Dame Time is still adjusting to Daylight Savings.

CBS Sports: Blazers rank No. 12

Last week's ranking: 6

Portland's neighbors: New York Knicks at 11, Toronto Raptors at 13

What they wrote: If you thought the Blazers would have a top-five defense and a middle-of-the-road offense, then you are either psychic or lying. Potentially both!

USA TODAY: Blazers rank No. 13

Last week's ranking: 6

Portland's neighbors: New Orleans Pelicans at 12, Oklahoma City Thunder by 14

What they wrote: Portland has lost all six games this season by an average of 5.3 points, the lowest in the league. Two of those losses (Memphis, Los Angeles Clippers) were decided by one point.

NBA.com: Blazers rank No. 14

Last week's ranking: 8

Portland's neighbors: New York Knicks at 13, New Orleans Pelicans at 15

What they wrote: The Blazers have been unable to take advantage of a home-heavy stretch of schedule, because, after scoring 110 points per 100 possessions over their first six games, they've scored just 99 over their last six, with players not named C.J. McCollum shooting 24 percent from 3-point range. The absence of Al-Farouq Aminu (ankle sprain) over the last four games has created a hole in the rotation (and bad defense had Jusuf Nurkic sitting the final 11 minutes on Friday), though Shabazz Napier had some good minutes in losses to Memphis and Brooklyn last week. Their restricted-area field goal percentage (still last in the league) has climbed above 50 percent, but their assist rate (AST/FGM) has dropped below. Only the Suns have assisted on a lower percentage of their baskets.

ESPN: Blazers rank No. 15

Last week's ranking: 12

Portland's neighbors: Milwaukee Bucks at 14, New Orleans Pelicans at 16

What they wrote: Clutch time in Portland is Damian Lillard time. Lillard leads the league with 13 unassisted field goals in clutch time this season, nine more than any other Trail Blazers player. As a team, Portland leads the league with 16 unassisted field goals in clutch time.

RANKINGS RELEASED WEDNESDAY

NBC Sports: Blazers rank No. 14

Last week's ranking: 12

Portland's neighbors: Orlando Magic at 13, Memphis Grizzlies at 15

What they wrote: Portland has the third-best defense in the NBA this season, and with that should have a better record than they do so far (they have the point differential of a 9-4 team). What’s holding them back is a middle of the pack offense, and the reason is they get the fewest points out of transition in the league. The Blazers need to play a little faster and get some easy baskets.

Jared Cowley is a digital producer at KGW. Follow him on Twitter here.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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