Wheeler: Trail Blazers More Than Lillard, McCollum

Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum are still playing at an elite level, but this year they've got reinforcements

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
March 08, 2019 - 8:05 am
Damian Lillard Portland Trail Blazers

USA Today Images


For years, the Portland Trail Blazers have been a two-man band with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum forming one of the best backcourts in the NBA. 

Well, this year, they’ve got reinforcements.

“I think Jusuf Nurkic is having his best season,” Trail Blazers play-by-play voice Brian Wheeler said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “I think his compatibility with Damian, especially on pick-and-roll situations, has been something that has added an extra dimension.”

Nurkic, a former first-round pick, is averaging 15.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks for Portland. He has 30 double-doubles on the season.

“He’s done a very nice job fitting in and kind of giving the Blazers a bit of a rim protector they’ve been looking for for a few seasons,” Wheeler said.

While Lillard (26.3 points per game) and McCollum (21.2) are still playing at an elite level, Enes Kanter and Rodney Hood – acquired from the Knicks and Cavaliers, respectively – should provide depth and experience come playoff time.

“Hood and Kanter are guys that have played in some meaningful playoff games with other teams,” Wheeler said. “I think in getting Hood and Kanter really for not much, those are two guys that will help this team once the Blazers get to the postseason.”

Portland (39-26), the 5-seed in the West entering play March 8, trails Houston (39-25) and Oklahoma City (40-25) by a half-game and one game, respectively.