Greetings from Portland, Oregon. I'm out here with the Raptors but looking forward to getting back home. It's been a long and frustrating trip to say the least. This team has been a tough group to watch at times. Their defence has gone backwards and they don't play consistently as a team. I feel for the fans -- really frustrating to witness. They should be better. Are they playoff good? No, but they should be more competitive. It's the last game of 15 of first 22 games on the road here tonight and a 4-17 record sure ain't pretty. We'll cover more of that down the road. Here's a quick look at some road observations.
1. Damian Lillard (Blazers): Excited to see him on Monday. Have watched him on TV and it's always a treat to see someone in person to get the true read. Love what I've seen so far. Very good at changing speeds and reading defences. Explosive and athletic. Mature approach. Got a chance to be a good one. Curious how good.
2. Corey Brewer (Nuggets): Improving. His defensive effort and focus significantly upgraded. Nice slashing player who fits their wide-open style. Seems to have found a niche here. Puts a lot of pressure on his opponents and his effort is steady.
3. Jimmer Fredette (Kings): He looks like he doesn't fit or belong, yet he can play. He'll have his challenges guarding folks but he competes hard and he's a creative player on offence. He's got a sweet shooting stroke and, in spite of his size, can get it off due to his elevation and quick release. I think if you show confidence in this guy, you'll get solid game performance from him.
4. Enes Kanter (Jazz): Big, strong and tough. Has deceptive footwork in the lane and will hit you first; better be ready for him. Excellent rebounding effort and, with the injury to Derrick Favors, getting added minutes and taking advantage of it. Doesn't look fluid at all but changes ends pretty well and doesn't get in the way. He contributes. Not a bad fourth big behind Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Favors.
5. Eric Bledsoe (Clippers): Outplayed the Raptors point guards Sunday in LA. Strong and tough-minded. He guards and competes with passion. Explosive, shoots it, makes the right passes and is a gritty rebounder. Like his game. He really jumped out at me and has made nice improvement. He plays like he means business and is on a team with a terrific second unit. He gets them going and can really push the pace yet makes solid plays in the half-court game. His stock is on the rise in my book.