The Portland Trail Blazers are quietly one of the best teams in the West

DENVER, CO - APRIL 9: Damian Lillard (0) of the Portland Trail Blazers and Will Barton (5) of the Denver Nuggets wait for free throws to be shot during the second half of the Nuggets' 88-82 win on Monday, April 9, 2018. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

When you think of teams in the West you think of teams like the Golden State Warriors with Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant and the Houston Rockets with James Harden. The Portland Trail Blazers have been in the playoffs the past five years though. They are currently on a seven-game winning streak and are 7-3 in their last 10 games. Last year the Blazers were able to get the third seed. They were not able to make it out of the first round of the playoffs though as they were swept by the New Orleans Pelicans. With a bad taste in their mouth from last season, they look to do more damage in the playoffs. The Portland Trail Blazers are one of the best teams in the West this year again and they are sneaking under the radar once again.

The Portland Trail Blazers are one of the best teams in the West and they are quietly sneaking under the radar.

An Efficient Team

The Blazers are one of the best teams when it comes to shooting free throws. They are third in that category at 81.4 percent. When you look at the individual stats they are impressive in terms of free throw percentage for each player. Al-Farouq Aminu is shooting 83.5 percent from the free throw line on 103 attempts. Damian Lillard is shooting 90.1 percent from the line on 322 attempts. CJ McCollum is shooting 82.6 percent from the line on 132 attempts.

They have made efficient transactional decisions also. Having good drafts is what will make or break a team in the long run. When it comes to points per game by lottery picks the Blazers are third with 82.1 points per game. Their two best players, CJ McCollum (first round, 10th pick, 2013 NBA draft) and Damian Lillard (first round, sixth pick, 2012 NBA draft) were picked by the team.

They are one of the best offensive teams in the league. When it comes to offensive rating the Blazers are sixth with 116.7. They are a good three-point shooting team also. They are shooting 35.9 percent from three which is good for eighth in the league.

Great and Developed Players

The Blazers have great players playing for them. Lillard is averaging 26.1 points per game which is good for 10th in the league. He has been one of the most consistent players in the league since being drafted in 2012. The only time he has averaged less than 20 points per game was his rookie season when he averaged 19.0 points per game. The last time he has averaged less than 25 points per game was his third year in the league when he averaged 21.0 points per game. He is a three-time all NBA player.

CJ McCollum won the most improved player award in 2016. He really helped the Blazers with his improved game after they lost LaMarcus Aldridge in free agency the offseason before he won the award. McCollum and Lillard together form one of the best backcourts in the league. After only averaging 5.3 points per game his rookie season and 6.8 the year after that he averaged 20.8 points per game his third year in the league which was the year he won the award. He has not averaged less than 20 points any season after that. He is 25th in the league in points per game with 20.5 points per game.

Jusuf Nurkic has caught on since being traded to the Portland Trail Blazers in 2017. He only averaged 8.0 points with the Denver Nuggets when he was traded and averaged 15.2 points in 20 games to close out the season with Portland. He averaged 14.3 points per game in his first full year with the Blazers and is averaging 15 points per game this season with 10.4 rebounds per game. This is the first year in his career he is averaging a double-double.

Conclusion

The Portland Trail Blazers have gone under the radar this season and are one of the best teams in the West. They are one of the best teams because they have developed the players they have. While those players may not make a lot of noise they will most likely have a good seed in the playoffs again this year.

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