3 & D
Name: Wesley Matthews
Position: Shooting Guard
Last Week’s Stats: 22.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 62.5 FG%, 54.8 3PT%
Wesley Matthews is on fire, and there’s no other way to put it.
The Portland Trail Blazers ended Week 4 with a statement win over the Golden State Warriors, giving them a 10-game winning streak (and the league’s third-best record) entering Week 5. As well as Wesley Matthews has played all season, Week 4 proved to be his coming out party.
In four games against the Warriors, Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls, the 2-guard did just about everything right. According to 82games.com, Matthews has the highest net value of anybody on the roster, his PER at the shooting guard position is a solid 19.0 (per 48 minutes) and even more impressive is his defensive production.
At the 2-guard spot, Matthews is allowing his opponents to record a PER (per 48 minutes) of just 6.7. He’s getting it done on both ends of the court, showing why he’s one of the best “3 and D” guys in the entire NBA.
Matthews has always been a vocal leader, but he’s often been unfairly classified as not much else. This season, he’s showing he can be both, as evident in the team’s last game of the week against Golden State.
To start off the contest, Matthews came out hot. He scored three quick buckets over good defense from Klay Thompson, and he continued his consistent production by tallying 23 points on 8-of-9 shooting (5-of-6 from deep) on the night.
What’s most impressive, however, is that this stat line came in just 26 minutes. The vocal leader himself was given a technical foul when he rushed to the aid of LaMarcus Aldridge, and he was ejected a bit later after standing up for his teammates in a third-quarter altercation.
Where has Matthews’ motivation come from this season? Look no further than the All-Star ballot.
Aldridge said Wesley Matthews is playing best basketball of his career:”He’s playing angry. I like it. He’s mad about the (All-Star) ballot”
— Joe Freeman (@BlazerFreeman) November 19, 2013
Matthews being left off of the All-Star ballot didn’t seem like the crime of the century when the year began, but boy has the shooting guard made the NBA look ridiculous. He’s playing with motivation because of his absence, and it has sparked an incredible run that has been highlighted by efficient three-point shooting.
Aside from being the No. 3 shooting guard in the league when it comes to long-range shots, Matthews is No. 1 in ESPN’s Adjusted Field-Goal Percentage. This guy is doing it all early in the year, and he’s a huge reason why the team has found such unprecedented success.
The obvious honorable mention here is LaMarcus Aldridge. The big man capped off yet another stellar week with 30 points 21 rebounds, three steals and three blocks against the Warriors.
He’s well on his way to another All-Star appearance, and he’s proving that he’s still the No. 1 option on an ever-improving roster.
What Aldridge does so well is bring diversity to the game plan. He can spread the floor with his silky jumper, yet he’s shown the ability to get physical down low. This forces defenses to respect him everywhere inside the three-point line, and it’s helped him become a better rebounder during the prime of his career.
Aldridge may not have earned full honors this week, but that’s only because of Matthews’ newfound consistency. The two leaders are blazing a trail to the playoffs together, and both will be recognized throughout the entire year.