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Four Point Play – Sampson’s Takeaways From First Trail Blazers Scrimmage

(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

The NBA is back!

Sort of.

The Portland Trail Blazers had their first scrimmage of the resumed season, taking on the Indiana Pacers. Some quick takeaways:

  1. Jusuf Nurkic looks good. I mean, really good. It would be easy to assume that there would be some rust to shake off – and maybe there was – but Nurkic had his typical impact on defense and on the boards. Offensively, his footwork in the post is light years ahead of where it was when he was injured last year. He looked calm and under control. And still lethal with Lillard in the pick and roll.
  2. Gary Trent Jr. is still brimming with confidence. When the season shut down in March, the Trail Blazers were treading water, but Trent was emerging as a valuable piece. Against Indiana, he showed flashes of that improved defense that earned him floor time, while splashing jumpers with ease.
  3. Zach Collins is important to this team, regardless of his stats. Watching ZC slide over to play help defense against the Pacers was a joy. With Whiteside opting to gamble on defense and chase blocks, Collins’ defensive skills were glaringly absent this season. It’s so nice to see he and Nuric on the court at the same time.
  4. The bench doesn’t have enough to get it done. Outside of Wenyon Gabriel and Mario Hezonja doing a few nice things, the bench unit – as expected – struggled. With the Trail Blazers fighting for their playoff lives, don’t be surprised to see coach Stotts move to an eight-man rotation once the games start counting.

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