NBA Playoff X-Factors – West

Which players are willing to guard baseline to baseline? Which play to the final buzzer. These are the Western Conference X-Factors.


8

Portland Trailblazers

35-39, 8th in West
Season: 29-37
Bubble: 6-2

Playoff Match-Up: (1) LA Lakers

Sean: Gary Trent Jr.

  • The Blazers are a team full of X-factors as they’ve demonstrated by clawing their way into the Playoff race.  Nurkić and Collins certainty deserve recognition. Whiteside stepping back into a reserve role does as well and you’ll read about Melo below from James. However, I’m here to argue that Gary Trent Jr’s emergence will end up being the X-factor for Portland.
  • All season the Blazers have had problems with the play of their wings. Hezonja, Ariza and Trent Jr have switched in and out of the rotation all season.  The knock on Trent was his defense. In the bubble though, he proved to Coach Stotts that he’s ready to step up. His improvement on the defensive end and his lights out shooting make him a no brainer beside Lillard and McCollum. If Trent continues to play as he did in the bubble, perhaps the Blazers have found their wing of the future and yet another weapon to throw at the Lakers in the first round. 

James: Carmelo Anthony

  • Portland has been a revamp to Melo’s career and he’s fit in perfectly. The way the team talks about him popping off for 20+ some nights is a huge benefit in helping out Dame and CJ McCollum.
  • An underrated facet to Melo’s game is his rebounding and the fact that he knows how to guard some of the best players in the game. He gets great position on the glass and boxes out so effortlessly. He’s a guy who won’t grab you 15 boards, but he will get you 6-8 with half of them being offensive rebounds.
  • He’s explosive when he wants to be and we haven’t seen Melo in the playoffs in a very long time. I expect a killer come postseason


Written by Sean Curley and James Macey

Check out the Eastern Conference X-Factors as well!

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One response to “NBA Playoff X-Factors – West”

  1. Samwise Avatar
    Samwise

    Kuuuuuuuuz!!! Y’all agreed a lot more on the West vs East. Interesting

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