Wesley: Always playing with a chip
The Trail Blazers' 9-2 start isn't coming by accident.
Portland has earned its record with a combination of efficient offense and solid rebounding. Terrific field-goal shooting -- especially from long distance -- and sharp passing have fed into the offensive execution. But even the defense has been better than average.
NBA.com's team stats page is a handy place to check in once in a while. It shows Portland is third-best in the NBA in offensive rating (108.1), behind the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Clippers. Let me say that's NBA rarefied air. Surprisingly, the Trail Blazers are 12th in defensive rating and their net rating is No. 6 in the NBA. Portland is also sixth in the league in rebounding rate.
But what I find interesting is the breakdown of Portland's shooting. We all knew they were making three-point field goals in a consistent way (fourth-best in the NBA) but I found it interesting how much the Trail Blazers' shooting improves vs. the league average as it moves AWAY from the basket.
Basically, inside 10 feet Portland is just not very good compared to other NBA teams. The Trail Blazers hit 55.7 percent of their shots from fewer than five feet away -- but that's just 21st in the NBA. From 5-9 feet out the Trail Blazers are shooting just 34.5 percent and that's 23rd in the league. Keep in mind, by the way, no team in the NBA is shooting more than 48 percent from that distance (a lot of traffic in there).
But from 10-14 feet, Portland jumps up to fifth in the league at 46.6 percent, from 15-19 feet the Blazers are seventh at 44 percent and from 20-24 feet they are fourth at 43 percent.
[WATCH: Blazers-Nets HIGHLIGHT]
And oh, by the way, on those REALLY long shots, from 25-29 feet: Portland is No. 3 in the league at 44.2 percent. Quite obviously, this is a team you don't want to allow to take open shots -- no matter how far out those shots are coming from!
It is a jump-shot team, as we all know by now. And the interesting thing moving forward will be to see how sustainable that sort of attack can be. What do you think -- will Portland's jump-shot skill hold up for an entire season?