A Simple Reminder
Name: Will Barton
Last Week’s Stats: 9 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 1.3 APG, 58.8 FG%
Through the first 18 weeks of the 2013-14 NBA season, we’ve yet to feature Will Barton as the Portland Trail Blazers‘ player of the week. Kindly put, he’s yet to earn an opportunity in the rotation, but his recent production is noteworthy with the playoffs right around the corner.
So far this season, Will Barton has played in just 21 games. His season averages won’t impress anybody leaguewide — or even in Rip City, for that matter — but one game last week acted as a reminder of just what he can do when given the opportunity.
When Portland faced off against the Brooklyn Nets in Week 18, it was sans LaMarcus Aldridge, Meyers Leonard, Joel Freeland and Thomas Robinson. With the Blazers bench having been downright awful most of the season, it wouldn’t have been unreasonable to assume Portland would walk away with a loss in this one — its first following a successful three-game winning streak.
As it turned out, the reserves stepped up to fill the holes in the rotation, and no one had a bigger night than the second-year swingman out of Memphis.
On the night, Barton scored 20 points on an incredibly efficient 8-of-13 shooting. He also collected 11 rebounds and four assists while blocking a shot in the process.
The thing about Barton that’s worth noting is that this isn’t the first time we’ve seen him put together this kind of showing. Those 28 minutes against Brooklyn are a huge reason the team walked away with a 124-80 win, but if you think back to the 2012-13 season, Barton emerged as a leader when LaMarcus Aldridge and others were sidelined with various injuries.
What most fans remember is the 13-game losing streak that Portland had to close out the year. Despite being considered a fringe-playoff squad all season, the team completely fell apart down the stretch, and it ended up in the 11th seed out West when the year was all said and done.
What most have a tendency to forget is that Barton was absolutely brilliant in the team’s last handful of outings. He scored between 17 and 22 points four times in the Blazers’ final seven games, and the other three saw him record 15, nine and nine, respectively.
Barton’s most recent flash of brilliance shouldn’t act as a magic 8-ball when it comes to this year’s postseason. He’s not going to be an integral part of the rotation because of one good game, and he’s certainly not going to be a go-to player when the playoffs arrive.
All that said, he showed fans once more that the bench may not be as useless as once presumed, which is exactly the assurance Rip City needs as it prepares to play in its first playoff series since the 2010-11 season.