Many NBA fans figured they could discount the Portland Trail Blazers when Brandon Roy went down mid-December with his latest knee injury. Though the Blazers won’t be winning a championship any time too soon, they’ve been playing well enough to claim a playoff spot. A great deal of their success recently can be attributed to the emergence of Wesley Matthews.
Matthews was an undrafted player out of Marquette who caught on with the Utah Jazz last year. He played all 82 games for the Jazz, and he began to see big minutes after Ronnie Brewer was traded to the Grizzlies. A year after averaging 9.4 points per game in his rookie year, Matthews has been lighting things up for Portland.
The Blazers, which signed Matthews to five-year $34 million deal over the summer, have seen Wes blossom in a starting role. Since Roy went down on December 15th, the team has gone 8-3 and Matthews has averaged 18.2 points per game. Portland has won eight in a row at home, a span during which Matthews has thrown in 21.3 ppg. He had a career-high 36 points Friday night against the Timberwolves, including seven three-pointers.
For the season, Matthews is averaging 16 points per game while shooting 45% from the field. Portland is not sniffing a title, but they’re surprisingly still a playoff contender even without Roy. The Matthews signing has been well worth the money.