Weekly Portland Trail Blazers coaching analysis – week 1

A look at Terry Stotts

Beginning today, NWSB will be breaking down the previous week’s performance, not by just the players on the Portland Trail Blazers, but by the team’s head coach, Terry Stotts.

Each week we’ll look at the good, the bad, the surprising and what we need to see during the coming week.

Entering the 2013-14 NBA season, Stotts began his second year with the team following a 33-49 record in 2012-13. The record is underwhelming by most accounts, but it’s important to note that the Blazers overachieved in the eyes of most people—that is until they dropped their final 13 games of the year.

This season, Stotts and his crew have begun 2-1 through three games. Contests against the Phoenix Suns, Denver Nuggets and San Antonio Spurs gave them a look at all levels of the Western Conference (the bad, the good and the flat-out contender), and needless to say, there are a few takeaways as a result.

The Good

Establishing a Rotation

Terry Stotts and the Trail Blazers are 2-1 to start the new season. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Terry Stotts and the Trail Blazers are 2-1 to start the new season. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

One of the things Portland needed to see early in the year was an established rotation. Stotts had an easy job last year when it came to playing his starters (as many minutes as they could possibly handle), but a deeper roster this time around made it tougher to predict what each player’s minutes would look like right out of the gate.

Up to this point, Stotts has done a good job of dispersing playing time. Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge are still seeing about 38 minutes per game apiece, but the couch has found a way to get Mo Williams a lot of action without sacrificing too much along the way.

The most interesting part of Stotts’ rotation is the decision to give the backup center role to Joel Freeland over Meyers Leonard. Joel Freeland had the better preseason showing, but with Meyers Leonard’s ceiling seemingly being higher, it will be a situation to watch throughout the year.

Overall, keep an eye on this category as the year proceeds, as the goal must be to get the starters more rest when the season comes to a close.

The Bad

Playing Down to the Competition

The fact that the Blazers beat two playoff teams from last season—one being the defending Western Conference champions—is a good thing. The Blazers are playing up to their opponents, meaning they’re ready for any level of competition on any given night.

The problem is that they also played down to their competition during the first week, as they lost to the Suns, who are fighting only for a spot in the 2014 lottery.

Stotts has to keep his team pumped and ready to go regardless of who they’re playing. There are no nights off when you’re trying to make the playoffs, and losing the winnable games will take away momentum when you need it the most.

A Look Ahead

Pick-and-Roll Defense

Stotts needs to make a concerted effort on pick-and-roll defense early in the season, especially with Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets coming to town. We heard all summer about how Robin Lopez was the answer in the middle, yet we’ve still seen breakdowns in many of those situations.

Up to this point, production has been inconsistent in that category. There’s still indecision when it comes to going over or under screens, and rotations have been slow at times—especially in Game 1 against Phoenix.

In today’s NBA, the pick-and-roll offense is a staple because of athletic point guards and floor-spreading big men. Portland must focus on stopping this attack, and if it can do that, it will be in good shape.


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About Bryant Knox

NWSB Editor. Portland native and Oregon graduate, On a non-stop mission to consume as much Ducks+Trail Blazers content as humanly possible. His love of sports is what attracts him to the game, passion for writing drives him to uncover the stories. Connect w/ Bryant today!
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