The Blazers are optimistic that Evan Turner, Lillard, and McCollum have worked out the kinks after an awkward start together. Lineups with all three outscored opponents by nine points per 100 possessions after mid-January, per NBA.com. Turner can handle, turning Lillard and McCollum into spot-up weapons, and all three can catch-and-go through tiny creases. Cramped spacing doesn’t do as much damage to teams with three playmakers who slither through those corridors in rapid-fire drive-and-kick sequences.
If the Nurkic Fever lasts, the Blazers are better than the team that was outscored by 43 points last season. That still might not be good enough in the West. Egads.
I might have PTSD from all those times the Bucks were bad when they were supposed to be good, and good when they were supposed to be bad.
If you narrow the focus to those special skills — Jokic’s passing and Curry’s shooting — Jokic still reigns supreme with respect to their peer groups. Jokic averaged 6.3 assists per 36 minutes last season, 174 percent greater than the league-average starting center. Conversely, Curry’s made 3s per 36 rated 120 percent greater than the league-average starting point guard. Point-center Nikola Jokic is truly a game-changer. Even if Jokic’s playmaking doesn’t rewrite the record books like Curry’s shooting has, the fact that only Russell Westbrook, James Harden and LeBron James had more triple-doubles last season is a testament to his ability to control all facets of the game.
Although the advanced metrics indicate that Jokic already is a superstar, all signs point to this being the season that public perception catches up. Of course, Jokic will have some more help this season in the form of four-time All-Star Paul Millsap.