Granted, it’s been only two exhibition games. The Trail Blazers haven’t had enough practice time to be where they want to be on the court and things might still be a little rough around the edges when the regular season starts on Dec, 23.
But that doesn’t mean we haven’t learned a thing or two already about this new edition of the Trail Blazers. Damian Lillard thinks he has learned something.
“I think we have shown commitment to the defensive end,” Lillard said. “The first night, obviously we came out and we were excited. We played with energy and we really focused on the changes that we made on our defense.”
And really, there is nothing more important to the welfare of this team than defensive improvement. Winning teams do not show up in the bottom three or four teams in defensive rating.
“I think again, the first two games overall, it looks sloppy, but we haven't been out of touch with our defensive principles and I think that's definitely a step in the right direction,” the Blazer captain said.
Over those two games there has been no question what the two new starting forwards -- Robert Covington and Derrick Jones Jr. -- have brought to the team.
They are players who have an attention and passion for defense. They are active and opportunistic. And so far, it appears their attributes have been contagious.
“When you have guys who come in and they come with that type of energy and effort,” Lillard said, “you feel like you’ve got to match that.
“Obviously that's what they do, but you feel like 'I cannot come alone for that type of effort.' No, you can’t let them be out there putting it on the line, taking that challenge, without everybody else out there doing it as well.
“So I think it is contagious.”
And that bodes well if it continues into the regular season.
Not all contagious things are a virus.