Booing Westbrook? He says he doesn't pay "much mind to it"

Booing Westbrook? He says he doesn't pay "much mind to it"

Russell Westbrook, the Oklahoma City point guard that Portland – and possibly a whole lot of other NBA cities --seems to love to hate, flipped the script just a bit Monday in his post-practice interview session.

Instead of “Next question” – his Sunday favorite – he offered up a lot of short responses. But to be fair, he answered some questions responsibly and spent a little time on one in particular: How he feels about the massive chorus of boos he hears from Trail Blazer fans whenever he touches the ball in Portland:

“I don’t even know,” he said. “I don’t even pay much mind to it, honestly.”

Is there a part of you that likes it?

“Part of me just told you what I just said. I don’t pay much mind to it. It doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t change the way I play. If they boo you, you must be doing something great. I must be pretty good at my job.

“They don’t boo nobody that’s not good at their job, So I’m OK with that. It’s all right. It’s a part of it.”

Well, let me think. Do they boo anyone who isn’t great at his job? Hmmm. Well, yes, I think maybe they do. He’s even a teammate of yours. OK, Portland, all together now, the ex-Blazer you just can't seem to stop hating:

“RAYMOND FELTON!!!!!”

And just so you know, after the interview, Westbrook put his arm around Felton, laughed, and walked out of the arena.

Around the web: The best of Blazers social media

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NBCSNW

Around the web: The best of Blazers social media

Thanks to social media fans, get a glimpse into the true offseason from some of their favorite NBA players. From Enes Kanter's epic cheat meals, to a rookie learning tough lessons about Portland traffic, social media brought us along for the ride. Here are some of the best social media posts of the last week from your Portland Trail Blazers. 

 

Throwback to 2012 NBA Draft -- License to Lillard, Episode 2: Building Blocks

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USA Today Images

Throwback to 2012 NBA Draft -- License to Lillard, Episode 2: Building Blocks

Since it’s NBA Draft week, we thought we’d throw it back to when the draft process all began for Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard.

Lucky for Trail Blazers fans, Nate Jones of Goodwin Sports Management put together a four-part series titled “License to Lillard,” where fans could watch the pre-draft process and really get to know the Weber State point guard.

In episode one, fans got their first glimpse into Lillard’s college struggles and triumphs.

In this second episode, “Building Blocks,” fans get a look at Lillard’s pre-draft workouts and how the then 22-year-old viewed what it takes to be an NBA player. 

One thing is for sure, Lillard’s work ethic and character has not changed.

The best part about this four-part “License to Lillard” series is probably watching the young and more slender built Lillard show how hungry he was to prove people wrong.  

In episode two, Lillard discussed how he looked up to LeBron James and Derrick Rose. He was also very open about how his Oakland roots making him the player he was at age 22.

You can follow Lillard’s pre-draft process before the Trail Blazers took a chance on him in the 2012 NBA Draft with the License to Lillard series right here.

WATCH FULL EPISODE HERE --

License to Lillard, Episode 2: Building Blocks

What went wrong on Portland's wing this year?

What went wrong on Portland's wing this year?

The Portland Trail Blazers had the same fatal flaw this season that they had last season. And the season before that, and the season before that. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, embattled by double teams in the playoffs, were better this year at moving the ball before opponents could cause turnovers. But they needed the recipients of those passes — or the recipients of the passes from those passes — to knock down open 3-pointers.

They didn’t.

Portland had a wonderful season, and its strength was largely due to the rise in production by Jusuf Nurkic and the faith its bench unit had in each other. Both of those things were taken away in the postseason. Nurkic sat out with a broken leg, and with Terry Stotts shortening his rotation in the playoffs, the backups looked unsteady.

That put pressure on the Blazers’ high-minute wing players to perform. Moe Harkless, Evan Turner, Rodney Hood, and Al-Farouq Aminu were on the attacking end of plays where imbalances on McCollum and Lillard should have let them dominate. They got more open looks, and were in better positions during these playoffs.

In part, Portland used those gaps in the defense to punish opponents with passing. The ball moved more, particularly to the high post. The nail acted as a pivot point: cutters ran the baseline and collapsing defenders dictated whether a layup or a corner 3-pointer was the best shot available.

Aminu, with his trebuchet-style shooting form, hit just 24 percent of his corner treys, per Cleaning the Glass. Harkless knocked down 14 percent from the same area, an astonishing number. Turner took and hit a single three all postseason.

This resulted in defenses being able to clamp down a bit more on Hood and Seth Curry, the two known quantities as shooters. Portland’s designated bench gunners — both subject to taking above-the-break threes already — were more predictable and thus, easier to guard.

Hood shot 33 percent on non-corner threes, and his stats from deep ranked him in the 59th percentile for the playoffs at his position. Curry put up better numbers, but his game log was uneven. He played heavy minutes for the Blazers in the postseason but in 12 of 16 games played, Curry’s jumper accounted for either one or zero 3-pointers. Without volume, Curry’s effect was limited. With that limitation, Hood had to do the bulk of the bench 3-point scoring. It just wasn’t enough.

That’s without mentioning Turner, whose inability to shoot one again hurt the Blazers. Turner was brought in to relieve trapping pressure from Lillard and McCollum in 2016. It didn't quite go as planned, but this season Turner finally found his niche as the independent leader of the bench unit. That was a positive for the Blazers, but the reason why Turner wasn't able to act as a release valve for Portland’s stars remained.

That takes us back to Aminu and Harkless. The younger forward, who battled nagging injuries all season long, came on strong in the final two months of the year. Although his shooting suffered, he was an effective scorer and his offensive rating jumped in March and April. But Aminu was never a threat, and in the playoffs opponents often allowed him space to shoot so they could prevent Portland from dominating the offensive glass. As Harkless’ percentages in the postseason rounded out, eventually he was left more space, too.

At their core, the Trail Blazers need more wing shooting. They know that — it's why they’ve stuck with Harkless for so long. Where Aminu provides defense and others must make up for his lack of 3-point consistency, Harkless could provide both. He’s shown flashes of brilliance, including during his first season with Portland in 2015-16, when Harkless was exactly the player Neil Olshey wanted in the postseason. The Queens native was able to guard the best opposing wing player while also shooting effectively from 3-point range. He thrived as a cutter. He passed the ball.

This postseason, Portland was forced to revert back to their old ways. Harkless, Aminu, Turner, Curry, and Hood provided one or two skill sets when the Blazers really needed each to give them three or four. Their compartmentalization of tasks laid bare Portland’s biggest flaws, its lack of fluidity apparent when Stotts’ rotation shrank in the postseason.

There's no easy fix for what ails this team. The front office knows exactly what they are trying to get from the wing. This summer will perhaps be their biggest test, with both Harkless and Aminu’s status with the team up in the air. Whether by trade, draft, or free agency, Portland needs a more dynamic wing lineup. It’s now their most glaring weakness, and next season can’t be played with such large disparities created by the trade-offs in roster construction as it’s stood for the past few seasons.

NBC Sports Mock Draft 6.0, will the Trail Blazers keep their pick?

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USA Today Images

NBC Sports Mock Draft 6.0, will the Trail Blazers keep their pick?

We are less than a week away from the 2019 NBA Draft!  Now that pre-draft workouts are wrapping up all around the league, the countdown to draft day is on.  With the Pelicans acquiring the Lakers pick (for now?), things are getting very interesting in the middle of the lottery. 

Let's take a look at how we see the NBA Draft going down and who the Trail Blazers might pick at No. 25.  This upcoming field of players has the potential to impact the balance of power in the NBA for many years to come…

No. 1 [Pelicans] -- Zion Williamson, Forward, Duke

Minutes after New Orleans won the draft lottery in May, all the buzz was about the addition of Williamson possibly swaying Anthony Davis to stay in the Big Easy. As it turns out, Davis is now in Hollywood and the Pelicans added a few solid pieces to go along with their prized top pick (not to mention a haul of future draft picks).  Williamson has been talked about for months as the best prospect in this draft class. He’s a 6-7 forward weighing in at 284 lbs who was an extremely entertaining player to watch while his athleticism was on full display while at Duke. Averaging 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists as a first-year player, Williamson led the Blue Devils to the Elite Eight. Now with the Pelicans, he'll be tasked with leading a core of young players including Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart on a playoff hunt in the coming years.

No. 2 [Grizzlies] -- Ja Morant, Point, Murray State

When the first reports broke about Morant undergoing “a minor arthroscopic procedure" on his right knee, the rumors started swirling that Memphis was no longer interested in Morant’s services. However, with Morant’s rehab timeline revealing he should be ready to go in early July, it looks like the Grizzlies will still take him No. 2 overall. Adding fuel to the fire, recent rumors have longtime Grizzly point guard Mike Conley possibly on the trading block, which would make it all the more likely that Morant is the Grizzlies' man.  Morant would be add some flare to the grit-and-grind style in Memphis.  After all, Morant put on a show at Murray State. The 6-3 sophomore excels at getting to the rim. He also easily breaks down defenders with his smooth handles. He is a guard who can get his teammates involved as well.

No. 3 [Knicks] -- RJ Barrett, Forward, Duke

Barrett is a high-energy player, and was Duke’s most consistent scorer. There’s no doubt he will be a high pick on Draft Night, though Barrett will need to work on his ball handling to become more efficient in the half court. The 19-year-old, whose birthday was June 14th, has met with both the Knicks and the Grizzlies. Stay tuned for some possible draft night drama however, if the Knicks don't select Barrett, and he falls into a reunion with his Blue Devil teammate Zion Williamson at the Pelicans 4th overall pick.  FUN FACT: Barrett’s Godfather is former NBA star Steve Nash.

No. 4 [Pelicans from Lakers] -- De’Andre Hunter, Forward, Virginia

We'll start with a disclaimer:  It's very possible, even likely, that the Pelicans trade this freshly-acquired pick.  That being said, if they do make the selection, signs point to De'Andre Hunter.  Hunter is a solid on-ball defender, who has great size and can knock down big shots, as seen in the NCAA Title game with his game tying three-pointer with 12.9 seconds left in regulation. The NABC Defensive Player of the Year, Hunter was matched up on Jarrett Culver all night in a battle of future pros. Hunter held Culver to 5-of-22 from the field and is now a National Champion.  Hunter's shotmaking ability would be a nice compliment to the playmaking ability of the Pelicans' top pick Zion Williamson.

No. 5 [Cavaliers] -- Jarrett Culver, Guard, Texas Tech

Culver has been targeted as a high lottery pick since Texas Tech advanced to the NCAA Championship game. The 6-5 junior picked up his scoring over the last month of the college season, and showed off his versatile offensive game during this past March Madness. Culver has also proven he is an above-average perimeter defender. His jumpshot is still a work in progress, though he would have lots of time to work on that with the rebuilding Cleveland Cavaliers.

No. 6 [Suns] -- Darius Garland, Point Guard, Vanderbilt

Crafty, quick, elite ball handler, with an impressive pull-up off the dribble – these skills all describe Garland. The Vanderbilt Freshman suffered a knee injury back in November that caused him to miss a big chunk of the college basketball season, but scouts have seen enough of his offense to take a chance on him. Garland needs work on the other end of the ball though.

No. 7 [Bulls] -- Coby White, Point Guard, North Carolina

White has proven he has the ability to create shots off the dribble effectively and efficiently. He also has nice size to be able to defend NBA shooting guards. Chicago lacks true star-power at the guard position (and really on the entire roster, to be honest) so White could break into the rotation quickly with the Bulls.

No. 8 [Hawks] -- Cam Reddish, Forward, Duke

Another Duke star, Reddish is a 6-9 freshman and is seen as having big potential. He’s a versatile small forward and has a quick release. Reddish didn’t quite live up to the hype at Duke, but there are still several NBA teams out there that are excited about his potential. Reddish would give the Hawks another big man to put around sophomore guard Trae Young.

No. 9 [Wizards] -- Jaxson Hayes, Forward, Texas

Hayes is a valuable rim protector and a threat to score the ball as well. He averaged 3.8 blocks per 40 minutes while shooting an efficient 72.8 percent from the field. Hayes has all the right physical tools needed for the next level. He has been compared to Nets forward Jarrett Allen.

No. 10 [Hawks from Mavericks] -- Brandon Clarke, Power Forward/Center, Gonzaga

Clarke is on the older end of the spectrum at 22-years-old. The 6-8 big man has been surging up the draft boards after his impressive and gutty performance in the Big Dance. He caught a lot of attention when he scored 36 points in Gonzaga’s 83-71 win over No. 9 seed Baylor in the second round. Clarke was a consistent scorer most of the season, shooting nearly 70% from the field. But, it’s his rim protection and his overall defense that has really turned heads. Clarke averaged 1.2 steals and 3.2 blocks per game this season.

WHAT ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS?

No. 25 [Blazers] -- Admiral Schofield, Small Forward, Tennessee

First and foremost, you have to love a guy named Admiral.  And even better, his brother's name is General.  His family's navy roots aside, Schofield is a rare four-year player in the first round, having improved his stats each season at Tennessee.  The Volunteers had a great season and Schofield showed himself to be a steady outside shooter and a fiery competitor.  Portland worked him out recently and if they don't trade this pick, they may decide to bring him aboard.

 

Download the MyTeams app today for the FULL 2019 First Round Mock Draft  

Throwback to 2012 NBA Draft -- License to Lillard, Episode 1: The Beginning

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USA Today Images

Throwback to 2012 NBA Draft -- License to Lillard, Episode 1: The Beginning

Since it’s NBA Draft week, we thought we’d throw it back to when the draft process all began for Trail Blazers' All-Star point guard Damian Lillard.

Lucky for Trail Blazers fans, Nate Jones of Goodwin Sports Management put together a four-part series titled “License to Lillard,” where fans could watch the pre-draft process and get to know the Weber State point guard.

“I’m just dreaming. Pursuing my dream. Follow me on my journey to the NBA,” Lillard said in episode one.

Going to a smaller school at Weber State helped motivate Lillard to prove what he can do.

“I wasn’t recruited by the bigger schools, it just automatically put a chip on my shoulder,” Lillard said.

Portland fans might notice the Oakland native sporting his hometown team, wearing Golden State Warriors basketball shorts while working out. 

Lillard told the story of when he was growing up, he was always working on his game and even though he didn’t have a hoop in his backyard, he did have a basket on a tree at his grandmother’s house that he used often at a young age.

Follow Lillard’s journey training hard, getting stronger, and becoming more explosive before the Trail Blazers took a chance on him in the 2012 NBA Draft.

Also, find out how Lillard overcame breaking his right foot during his junior season (2010-11). Lillard had played in just nine games for the Wildcats before suffering the foot injury that forced him to miss the remainder of the season. He would go on to receive a medical redshirt season. This was his first major injury.

“It was kind of hard on me… I think that helped me get as mentally tough as anyone… Right now I think I can do anything,” Lillard said.

WATCH FULL EPISODE HERE --

License to Lillard, Episode 1: The Beginning

Get to know (and get ready to salute) the Admiral, Admiral Schofield

Get to know (and get ready to salute) the Admiral, Admiral Schofield

According to the dictionary, “Admiral” has two definitions:

- A commander of a fleet or naval squadron, or a naval officer of very high rank.

- A butterfly that has dark wings with bold colorful markings.

Both these definitions are relative when describing Admiral Schofield. 

Imagine a 6’6” 241 pound guard/small forward who has the body of a small truck that’s paired with a silky smooth jump shot. A threat everywhere on the court, literally, everywhere. Baseline to baseline, sideline to sideline. The ability to hit a corner three on one end, block your shot on the other, and then lead a fast break that turns into a ferocious dunk. He’s the guy you want on your team and hate him if he’s not. 

This is Admiral Schofield.

The Tennessee legend, who played all four years in that signature orange color, was a leader since stepping onto the Knoxville campus. In his first season (2015-16), the Vols hired new coach Rick Barnes and finished 15-19 that year, 12th in the SEC conference. Schofield averaged 7.6 points and 4.0 rebounds in just 18.7 minutes per game. The next year, Tennessee improved but not by much, finishing 9th in the SEC with a 16-16 record. By the time Schofield was a junior, his numbers improved all over the court and the Vols found themselves on top of the SEC finishing first in the conference with a 26-9 overall record and going as far as the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Schofield went through the NBA Draft evaluation process after his junior year but ultimately stayed with the Vols for one more season. And boy did he have an impact. Tennessee flirting with the No. 1 overall ranking in NCAA division I men’s basketball all last season, had a deep NCAA Tournament run, and Schofield made himself into quite the NBA prospect: 

- Averaged 16.5 points and shot 42% from three-point range; 

- A finalist for the 2019 Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award; 

- 2019 Naismith Trophy Men’s Player of the Year Award Midseason Team;

- A No. 1 Top -10 play on SportsCenter

- 2019 All-SEC First Team (Coaches)

(Just to name a few…)

He was the admiral in Tennessee. 

His style of play is that of “a butterfly with dark wings and bold beautiful markings.” A multi-faceted type of game: not afraid to have the ball in his hands, can overpower you in the paint, but also pull up with a smooth free throw line jumper. But what sets him apart from the rest of the field every time he steps onto the court is his ability to shoot beyond the arc. He is the type of person, not just player, willing to do it all. He has the tenacious mentality to grab an offensive rebound and go right up with it. The in-your-face dark wings with the bold, fearless jump shot butterfly that he is.

This is Admiral Schofield. A guy who can do everything and the little things:

Should the Blazers salute the admiral if he is still on the board at No. 25 on this Thursday’s 2019 NBA Draft? Absolutely. 

 

Get to Know: Talen Horton-Tucker from Iowa State

Get to Know: Talen Horton-Tucker from Iowa State

The Trail Blazers hosted their final round of pre-draft workouts today at the practice facility in Tualatin. Horton-Tucker is a 6’4’’ Guard/Forward from Iowa State. He was an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention and a Big 12 All-Freshman team selection for the 2018-2019 season. He was second among Big 12 freshmen in scoring at 11.8 ppg.

Horton-Tucker’s strengths include a well-balanced combination of power and skill as he is built like a power forward but has skills like a guard but is still working to develop his three point range. Also a benefit, Horton-Tucker has the build and athleticism to guard multiple positions.

Scoop Journal: Who else wished they were partying it up in Jurassic Park on Thursday night?

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NBC Sports Northwest

Scoop Journal: Who else wished they were partying it up in Jurassic Park on Thursday night?

Welcome to The Scoop Journal, where every week I empty my notebook of wide ranging Trail Blazer thoughts, observations, and randomness. I hope you enjoy this light-hearted weekly blog...

June 14, 2019

Dear Scoop Journal,

This is my first journal entry since the Trail Blazers season ended and it seems fitting to write down my random Trail Blazers/NBA thoughts today since the season came to an end last night with the Toronto Raptors taking home the 2019 NBA Championship.

Now that I’ve had a night to sleep on it, with all the injuries for the Warriors, and the celebrations in Toronto, here are my latest Blazers and NBA thoughts:

*Everyone I talk to today, I want to ask them this question: How bad did you wish you were partying it up in Jurassic Park on Thursday night in Toronto? (Toronto knows how to celebrate a championship!)

*First off, Congrats to Toronto and the Raptors fans on earning their first NBA Championship! I know I’m not alone in thinking Blazers fans are happy for their fellow northern neighbors.

*It’s so hard not to think about what it would be like here in Portland for the Blazers to win a title in the modern NBA era. Rip City will go absolutely crazy when the next championship happens here. This is something I think about often. Obviously, I can’t wait for that day!   

*There were so emotions for Golden State fans on Thursday night. It was the last game played at Oracle Arena, the Warriors had just lost Kevin Durant to a ruptured Achilles a couple days before Game 6, and then Klay Thompson goes out with what we all later learned was a torn ACL.

*Injuries are the worst part of the game. You hate to see players go down with these horrific injuries.  

*And not to mention, Thompson and Durant will both become free agents this offseason. This summer is going to be very interesting and next season could now be wide open.  

*I saw a Blazer fan tweet this out on Thursday night and I think this is how every non-Warrior fan was feeling:

*For now, NBA fans wish for a speedy recovery to all the players who went down with major injuries this season.

*Let’s now shift our focus to the NBA Draft. Thursday evening can’t come soon enough. Who will the Blazers pick at No. 25? Or will Portland trade the pick in a package deal? We’re about to find out!

Trail Blazers react to the World Champion Toronto Raptors

Trail Blazers react to the World Champion Toronto Raptors

The 2018-2019 NBA season has come to and end. The Toronto Raptors have dethroned the dynasty that is the Golden State Warriors defeated the Dubs in six games. 

This is the first NBA Championship for the Raptors and "Jurassic Park". 

Several players of the Portland Trail Blazers took to social media following the game to congradulate the World Champs:

The end of this NBA season can only mean that the NBA Draft and the NBA Summer League are just weeks away.

We are about to head into the crazy that is the NBA offseason with so many major players up in free agency. To the Raptors, Kawhi Leonard. For the Warriors, injuries to All-Stars Kevin Durant and now Klay Thompson (ACL tear in game six) will be something to watch next season and what Golden State will do.

CJ McCollum recognized Thompson's heart, coming back into the game and shooting two free throws on a torn ACL.