Damian Lillard and LeBron James have been named the NBA's Players of the Week for games played between Nov. 10 and Nov. 16.
In wins over Charlotte, Denver and Brooklyn, Lillard averaged 28.0 points (58.8% FG), 4.7 rebounds, 8.7 assists and 1.33 steals.
James led Cleveland to a perfect 3-0 record this past week, averaging 35.0 points on .594 shooting, including .500 (8-16) from beyond the arc, 7.0 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 1.0 block in 36.7 minutes per game. He posted one double-double and topped 30 points in each game, including a season-high 41 points on November 14 vs. Boston. Among all NBA players this past week, James led the league in points per game, while also being the only player to average at least 30 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
Meyer Leonard was unsure of himself in his first two NBA seasons, when he was asked to be a traditional "brute" and back-to-the-basket center.
This season, Leonard has shown development in his shooting and has a more defined role as a shooting big man who can stretch the defense.
"There are a lot of things I feel like that have gone against me,'' Leonard said. "And people are like, 'What the heck? We took him early (11th pick in 2012), we're expecting a lot' ... and I think it's just taking a little bit of time.'
"I think people see a 7-footer ... pretty strong ... big ... wide shoulders ... and everyone thought I was a five,'' Leonard said.
Leonard scored seven points and grabbed 12 rebounds in place of LaMarcus Aldridge in the Portland Trail Blazers' 97-87 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday. He was able to pull defenders away from the paint due to his shooting.
"It was kind of me,'' Leonard said of the shift in philosophy. "There was no point in trying to impress people in something that I was not that great at. I wanted to continue to work on defense and rebounding, but also be what they brought me in to do: Be skilled. Run the floor. Shoot the ball when you are open. Be athletic.'
"Once coach started to see me shoot more threes after practice, and shoot them during camps, and in games and summer run ... that's when coach realized 'He can really help us.'"
The Portland Trail Blazers have exercised team options on the contracts of center Meyers Leonard and guard CJ McCollum.
Portland exercised its fourth-year team option on Leonard, who holds averages of 4.4 points (52.2% FG), 3.4 rebounds, 0.5 assists and 14.3 minutes in 109 games over two seasons with the Trail Blazers. The team selected Leonard with the 11th overall pick in the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft out of Illinois.
The Trail Blazers picked up the third-year team option on McCollum. The 10th overall selection in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft out of Lehigh, McCollum averaged 5.3 points (37.5% 3-PT), 1.3 rebounds, 0.7 assists and 12.5 minutes in 38 games during his rookie 2013-14 season.
The NBA's new television deal won't have an impact on whether LaMarcus Aldridge signs a long-term deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, according to a source.
Aldridge's annual salary will pencil in at 30 percent of the Blazers' cap when he signs his deal, no matter how much it is. Afterward, he would receive 7.5 percent increases each year for the length of his deal.
Aldridge said in July that he planned on signing a max contract with the Blazers next summer.
In this episode, host Daniel Leroux (@DannyLeroux) breaks down the Northwest division with Ethan Sherwood Strauss of ESPN (@SherwoodStrauss) and Beckley Mason of HoopSpeak and the New York Times (@BeckleyMason).
The three work through the offseason for the Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz, Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets, including the Kevin Love trade, preview the upcoming season and hit on many other NBA topics including OKC's future, the Warriors' situation and locker room dynamics.