Coach Terry Stotts is the big winner from Portland’s first half: In the final guaranteed year of his current contract, he’s made a convincing case that he should be retained. First, he showed that his three-happy offensive system could maintain a top-10 rating despite losing four of his 2014–15 starters, getting increased contributions from promoted holdovers like C.J. McCollum and Allen Crabbe. Second, he showed a pretty keen understanding of how to incorporate his new faces, managing to coax some playmaking out of Mason Plumlee, making sure long-term building block Noah Vonleh gets reps as a starter, and constructing a narrow role that allowed Ed Davis to maximize the limited nature of his game. Third, he proved that he could keep his locker room together and motivated when All-Star point guard Damian Lillard missed time due to injury. That’s no small feat with a young team full of new additions.
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The Blazers, somehow, someway, have had a top-10 offense for most of this season. C.J. McCollum has made unprecedented strides and Damian Lillard is having the best year of his career.
But beyond Portland’s two best players, role players like Mason Plumlee and Al-Farouq Aminu are having breakout seasons.
This team needs to hold onto Stotts as long as they can.