The Trail Blazers have had to deal with the absence of starters such as CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic for more than a month now. They have been shorthanded on numerous occasions but have managed to churn out results with the players available to them. Their fighting spirit is second to none this season as they aim to qualify for the playoffs and possibly gain a home-court advantage by finishing in the top 4.
The Portland Trail Blazers were on a six-game winning run before their recent slump of 3 consecutive defeats. However, with quality players like Damian Lillard, Enes Kanter and Carmelo Anthony on their side, they have shown that they can fight back from such situations.
On that note, let's take a look at how each player on the Portland Trail Blazers roster has performed so far this season. We have only graded players who are averaging more than five minutes a game.
Grading the Portland Trail Blazers' starters after 31 games of the 2020-21 season
Damian Lillard - A+
2020-21 Season Record - MPG: 35.7 PPG: 29.6 AST: 8.0 REB: 4.4 FG%: 44.7
As expected, Damian Lillard has carried the scoring responsibilities for the Portland Trail Blazers in the absence of CJ McCollum, who has just played 13 games this season.
Lillard is 4th on the list of scoring averages in the NBA and has been a lethal shooter so far. His ability to come out on top in clutch situations has been on display yet again.
According to ESPN’s The Jump, the Portland Trail Blazers star leads the NBA with the most game-tying, go-ahead field goals in the final 20 seconds since 2012-13. He got his 6th All-star selection this year. However, many fans considered it to be a snub because, to them, he deserved to be a starter rather than a reserve.
Enes Kanter - A
2020-21 Season Record - MPG: 25.9 PPG: 11.7 AST: 1.1 REB: 11.4 FG%: 58.8
Enes Kanter has proven to be a solid performer for the Portland Trail Blazers this season.
The big man initially started from the bench and played Jusuf Nurkic's rotation minutes. However, after Nurkic's injury, Kanter has gotten more opportunities to start games and has performed at a high level since then.
Gary Trent Jr. - A
2020-21 Season Record - MPG: 30.8 PPG: 15.3 AST: 1.3 REB: 2.1 FG%: 42.7%
Gary Trent Jr. is covering for CJ McCollum in the Portland Trail Blazers lineup this season. The 22-year-old has been quite impressive as a shooter and scorer. He is third in the team's list of average scores per game behind Lillard and McCollum.
Even after McCollum's return, Trent Jr. will still be relevant as a bench player and can help the Portland Trail Blazers to a great extent.
Robert Covington - C+
2020-21 Season Record - MPG: 31.1 PPG: 7.4 AST: 1.8 REB: 6.3 FG%: 36.4%
Robert Covington has underperformed heavily this season, especially in the offensive department. Defensively, he has still been quite decent and is averaging 1.8 blocks and 1.7 steals per game this season.
However, the season is still long, giving Covington more time to work on his offensive game as he continues to punch invaluable minutes on a nightly basis.
Derrick Jones Jr. - B
2020-21 Season Record - MPG: 27.1 PPG: 8.1 AST: 0.8 REB: 4.9 FG%: 50.3%
Derrick Jones Jr. doesn't have great numbers to prove how good he has been for the Portland Trail Blazers. However, this could change soon.
In the last game against the Denver Nuggets, Jones scored 18 points, made 3 blocks and grabbed 5 rebounds. This could be a turning point for him this season, and he could prove to be a solid performer on both ends of the floor.
Carmelo Anthony - A
2020-21 Season Record - MPG: 25.4 PPG: 13.4 AST: 1.3 REB: 3.5 FG%: 39.8%
It's always a bonus for any team to have experience on their side. With Carmelo Anthony, the Portland Trail Blazers have quite a lot of it.
Anthony has been a huge reason why the Blazers have been able to survive this injury-riddled season so far. The veteran has managed to score more than 20 points on multiple occasions this season, proving to be a reliable player for the Trail Blazers.
CJ McCollum - A+
2020-21 Season Record - MPG: 33.8 PPG: 26.7 AST: 5.0 REB: 3.9 FG%: 47.3%
CJ McCollum was on fire for the Portland Trail Blazers before being ruled out with a long-term injury. His stats speak for themselves, and one could only imagine how lethal the Trail Blazers could have been this season if he was still available. His shooting beyond the arc was tremendous as he managed to score an impressive 44.1% from the deep.
Nevertheless, Terry Stotts will be hoping that McCollum returns to the lineup soon as the campaign enters a crucial stage.
Jusuf Nurkic - B
2020-21 Season Record - MPG: 23.3 PPG: 9.8 AST: 2.8 REB: 7.7 FG%: 48.5%
Jusuf Nurkic was putting in decent shifts until he was ruled out around the same time as McCollum. He made 12 appearances for the Portland Trail Blazers this season and played a key role in each of their wins during that stretch.
The Trail Blazers are playing with just one traditional center at the moment and will be hoping Nurkic makes his comeback soon.
Anfernee Simmons - B
2020-21 Season Record - MPG: 17.9 PPG: 8.7 AST: 1.2 REB: 2.5 FG%: 39.3%
21-year-old Anfernee Simmons has been quite impressive for someone who is just in his third season in the NBA.
The Portland Trail Blazers' young star has had to step up for the team in the absence of CJ McCollum. He has done just that by playing important rotation minutes for the backcourt stars.
Rodney Hood - D
2020-21 Season Record - MPG: 18.8 PPG: 4.8 AST: 1.2 REB: 1.6 FG%: 36.6%
Rodney Hood has been quite disappointing for the Portland Trail Blazers. The former Utah Jazz player hasn't been able to contribute as much as he would've liked to.
His career average of 11.9 points is also way better than his current season's 4.8 points per game at the moment.
Harry Giles III - D
2020-21 Season Record - MPG: 11.8 PPG: 3.1 AST: 0.9 REB: 4.9 FG%: 41.9%
Harry Giles III is another player on the injury list for the Portland Trail Blazers. He has featured in 22 games this season. The 22-year-old has been given decent minutes but has underperformed whenever given the chance.
Nasser Little - C+
2020-21 Season Record - MPG: 11.1 PPG: 5.2 AST: 0.3 REB: 2.2 FG%: 54.0%
Nasser Little is another bright youngster on this Portland Trail Blazers roster. The 21-year-old scored a season-high 30 points against the mighty Milwaukee Bucks this season and can prove to be a great squad player in the coming few weeks. He is also a lethal shooter of the ball and can be relied upon in that department.
CJ Elleby - C+
2020-21 Season Record - MPG: 8.1 PPG: 3.0 AST: 0.2 REB: 1.1 FG%: 45.2
CJ Elleby hasn't gotten enough minutes to prove himself yet. The Portland Trail Blazers are stacked with young guards right now. However, with the season proving to be tiring, we could get to see more of Elleby in the foreseeable future.
Keljin Belvins, Zach Collins
So far, these players haven't played enough or featured at all for the Portland Trail Blazers to warrant a realistic grade.