Damian Lillard on struggling Trail Blazers: ‘We kind of suck right now’
Damian Lillard didn’t mince words when characterizing how the Portland Trail Blazers have been a middling squad so far this season amid high expectations, summing up his opinion by saying, “We kind of suck right now.”
Lillard made the brutal assessment shortly after the Blazers dropped to 7-6 after losing Thursday night to the Houston Rockets by a score of 126-109.
“We kind of suck right now,” Lillard said, via Casey Holdahl of the team’s official site. “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.”
Lillard’s opinion of how Portland has been playing terribly is somewhat supported by statistics, especially on one end of the court.
Defensively, the Blazers are a mess. Portland is surrendering 112.4 points per game. Only the 3-9 Phoenix Suns are giving up more (116.0). The team ranks 29th of 30 NBA teams in Defensive Efficiency at 108.5, which tracks the number of points allowed by a team per 100 possessions.
On offense, things look a bit better for the Blazers. The team is 15th in offensive efficiency rating (103.6) and tenth in points-per-game (107.2), essentially middle of the pack or better.
While a 7-6 start shouldn’t be treated as all doom and gloom for the Blazers, the team was expected to be take the next step up the ladder in the formidable Western Conference. That hasn’t come to fruition. But 13 games does not make a regular season, as Lillard pointed out.
“I know we’re going to be fine, but it’s just frustrating for us to be doing the same things, hurting ourselves in the same ways, for all of us, myself included,” he said. “We try hard as a group, we’ve just got to be better. We’ve got to stay with it.”
And stay with it they should. As noted by Yahoo’s Dan Devine, Portland started off 11-20 last season before a 22-8 run righted the ship as calendar flipped to 2016.
It may be disappointing right now for Lillard and the Trail Blazers, but there’s no reason to panic. Yet.
[Ball Don’t Lie]