Trail Blazes forward Rodney Hood has found himself in a role that he didn’t expect he would be in at the start of the season, which he admitted following Monday’s practice.
But now that he is helping to run the team both on and off the court more than he ever has in his seven-year NBA career, Hood has shown he’s up for the challenge.
After starting the previous three games, he has averaged 12.7 points and a whopping 34.4 minutes per game.
Now that Hood isn’t on a minutes restriction following his return from a torn left Achilles last Dec., he has shown more bounce in his play and he says he is letting his body react and rest when it needs it.
In 19 games played this season, Hood is averaging 19.2 minutes per game and notching 5.2 points and 1.7 rebounds.
But in his last nine games played he is averaging 25.8 minutes.
“I’ve been feeling good,” Hood added. “Playing a lot of minutes, but our team needs that right now. We down some people. Every game it feels like somebody goes down. Just next man up, and just got to get my rest and my body will react as we go along.”
But for Hood’s head coach, Terry Stotts, it’s all about the 28-year-old feeling comfortable.
Stotts continued, “I think there was some uncertainty at the beginning of the season. I think he’s really kind of embraced what’s going on right now."
Hood agrees with his coach.
“I’m comfortable in it,” Hood said of taking on more point guard responsibilities. “I think I know most of the plays to put most of the guys in positions to score. Even when Dame was playing, just him playing off the ball more, they trust me to be able to get people in the right spots.”
While Hood says he’s comfortable being more of a playmaker, he knows that he is going to continue to have that role for the foreseeable future.
In the win over Philadelphia, in which Hood earned his second straight start with Damian Lillard, Derrick Jones Jr., CJ McCollum, and Jusuf Nurkic all sidelined with injuries, Hood stepped up to fulfill the scoring load and get others involved.
Hood finished with 16 points, five rebounds, and three assists.
He also proved to Coach Stotts that he was ready to fill that role.
“I was really pleased with how he played the game, how directed the offense,” Stotts said. “He was more vocal. I think that’s part of the circumstances of the [76ers game], but also I think it’s just he’s kind of evolved into that situation since he’s been here for a while.”
Without McCollum and Nurkic, Hood says he knows this team relies on and looks to Damian Lillard and Carmelo Anthony, of course, but he wants to take the burden off of those two and be more of a vocal leader.
“We need as many voices right now as we can… Just making sure we’ve got voices in the locker room.”
After the Blazers' road trip, Hood says the team is trying to ‘clean things up’ especially on the defensive end, whether that’s in transition or on the perimeter.
Hood will continue to have an expanded role, especially with Coach Stotts revealing Monday that there is no update on Nassir Little (left knee sprain) and that Lillard is feeling better, but he did not practice.
The banged up Blazers now tip-off a three-game homestead Tuesday when the Orlando Magic come to town.