Saturday night in the Rose Garden saw the finale of a season sweep of the Minnesota Timberwolves and the homecoming of former Trail Blazer Brandon Roy. But even with all the hubbub from those two events, the newest cog in Portland’s wheel, point guard Eric Maynor, came crashing to the forefront.
Just over a week after being traded to the Rose City—and in just his third game as a Trail Blazer—Maynor hit the ground running, or rather diming. He notched a career high in assists with 12 while racking up 31 minutes and tallying 7 points running the show.
“I felt good. Getting more comfortable with these guys and able to get a lot of minutes tonight, so I felt good about it,” Maynor said of his performance. “JJ (Hickson) finishes, LaMarcus (Aldridge) finishes, I got Meyers (Leonard) finishing, I got shooters around the court, it’s like just pick and choose whichever one you wanna hit. Guys been finishing, so like I said, we’re gonna all get more comfortable with each other as time comes.”
But what’s perhaps even more telling than his stat line alone is what happened on the court around him while he wore the badge of floor general—the Trail Blazers bench, known for struggles and inconsistency, had a breakout night. Along with Maynor’s assists, Leonard earned a near double-double with 12 points and 8 boards while Victor Claver, who’s been playing regular minutes as of late after earning the trust of Head Coach Terry Stotts, poured in 12 points.
Overall the second unit added 29 points, 16 rebounds and 15 assists in the 109-94 defeat of the Timberwolves, but that’s not the whole story either. In both of the other games Maynor’s laced up in scarlet and black the bench has hit double figures in scoring and rebounding, a feat the early goings of the bench rotation weren’t showing capable of consistently accomplishing.
“That’s what he is, what you saw tonight is what E. Maynor is,” Wesley Matthews said after the win. “He’s a pass first, pass second point guard almost to a fault. He’ll get into the paint and you think he’s gonna flip up a floater, but he’s always got his head up and looking for his teammates and that’s something that’s so valuable in this league.”
In Maynor’s first game against the Boston Celtics the bench put up 11 points and 19 boards with Victor Claver leading the charge on the glass pulling down 10. The next game, against the Denver Nuggets, unit two totaled 17 points and 10 rebounds led by the efforts of Leonard with his career-high 13 points.
Now, draw the conclusions you will about the sudden emergence of the young bench
—Is it consistent playing time for Claver? Is Leonard finally getting the hang of this whole NBA thing? Or is some of the credit owed to the calming and stabilizing influence of a solid presence at the backup point guard position.
I’m going with the latter, my Trail Blazers centric mind sees the addition of Maynor as a catalyst for the recent bench success. His confidence with the ball, his skillful passing, and his ability to spell point guard Damian Lillard from focused defensive pressure allowing him to play off the ball and open up the floor are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Maynor’s contributions. And he’s only played three games here!
Talk about a spark.
What do you think? Hit me in the comments with your thoughts on employee number six.