We have all heard the phrase before: somebody being "wise beyond their years". I've been thinking about this phrase the past couple days.
This current Portland Trail Blazers team has taken incredible heat from the media on being young, inexperienced and unprepared to compete in the league right now. But I would like to argue that this team is a lot closer than a lot of people give them credit for. They have shown that by winning 3 overtime games so far this year.
Let me explain ...
I have coached high school athletics since I got out of high school. I study other coaches from all sports trying to get an edge. One thing I learned from Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher is the phrase, "Effort and Execution". Every coach wants a team’s 100% effort and full execution throughout the game. But through my experience coaching, crunch time is the hardest to keep the team’s focus and keep on track to finish out a game.
This young Blazers team has now been victorious in 3 overtime games. This last one against Cleveland being a little extra impressive because of the fact that it was on the back end of a back-to-back, and because of the fact that it went to 2 overtime periods.
A lot of people would look at it and say 3-0 in overtime this early in a season means nothing, especially when the overall record of the team is only 7-10 overall. But I would argue that the fact they have been able to win those 3 overtime games is very telling to the focus and moxie of this young team.
I did a little research and compiled the last three seasons’ overtime records for the Blazers.
1-5 OT record in 2009-2010
2-3 OT record in 2010-2011
1-3 OT record in 2011-2012
The last 3 years, the Blazers have only won 4 overtime games. In comparison, they have already won 3 this season.
I know what some of you are thinking: overtime win percentage doesn't get a team to the playoffs. That's not what I'm trying to argue at all. I'm just saying that this rookie laden team is progressing at a faster pace than a lot of people may have thought.
Keep in mind that the Blazers have 8 home games in the month of December after being on this brutal 7 game road trip.
This team is progressing and showing they may be more poised and prepared then many people thought then would be at this point, or in other words, "wise beyond their years".
I may just be an eternal optimist, I may be a Blazer Booster at heart, but I am of the opinion that this team is a year and a couple pieces away from being special. Damian Lillard is the real deal. Nic Batum is living up to his potential. Wes Matthews has really stepped up as a vocal leader. This is a fun team to watch and cover, and I am on the edge of my seat, prepared for what the future will bring!