It seems like something clicked in the Portland Trail Blazers between last season and the present one because they look like a much improved unit.
Despite having several players that returned from last year – and with their core of Damian Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum intact – the Blazers seem like a different team, one that is much more mature and that seems ready to take over the Western Conference by storm.
The Blazers have already accomplished a lot even though we’re only one month into the season. They carried an 11-game winning streak to start the year, already defeated the likes of the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder and prevailed against the top team in the Eastern Conference as well, the Indiana Pacers. Portland sits at top of the standings in the West with a 16-3 record, but the good news isn’t only number-related.
Damian Lillard has actually built on a rookie campaign that was already stellar. The second-year floor general appears to be much more in control of the offense and he’s also become a more efficient shooter. LaMarcus Aldridge has finally emerged as the leader of the team, and he’s a tough presence inside capable of making his presence felt on both ends of the court. Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews have been lights out to start the year, and the role players like Robin Lopez and Maurice Williams have contributed solidly.
The team still needs a deeper rotation and it remains to be seen if they can maintain this form later in the season. But it can’t be denied that right now they are one of the hottest teams in the NBA, and they need to be considered as contenders after the first month of the campaign.