The Portland Trail Blazers are 4-0 to start the season, owning wins over the Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers, and Denver Nuggets. This leaves the Blazers and the 2-0 Milwaukee Bucks as the NBA’s last undefeated teams heading into Wednesday night, when both teams are active.
The hot start has been eye-opening to many. Ricky O’Donnell of SBNation tabs the Blazers as one of the eight biggest surprises so far this season.
The Trail Blazers could have traded Damian Lillard and started a full-scale rebuild. Instead, the inked Lillard to another massive contract extension over the offseason, and tried to reload the roster around their franchise star. Lillard has been electric at the start of this season, and now he finally has some help. For the first time in years, the Blazers have some legitimate forward depth. Jerami Grant has been a consistent scorer and active defender. Josh Hart hits the glass hard, flies around defensively, and excels in transition. Even rookie Shaedon Sharpe has looked great in his first real action since high school. Gary Payton II will help too when he debuts after abdominal surgery.
Lillard also has some holdovers in Jusuf Nurkic and Anfernee Simons who continue to be reliable. Nurkic is still a major physical presence on the inside despite a slow start offensively, while Simons is a microwave scorer who can take over a game at any time. The fourth quarter is still Dame Time. As long as Lillard keeps playing like a top-10 overall player, the Blazers could actually make some noise in the West this year.
The Blazers look to continue their red hot start to the season at home against the Miami Heat tonight.
You can read the rest of O’Donnell’s list of biggest surprises to start the season here.