The inside scoop on the Portland Trail Blazers with Dane Carbaugh

Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

I chatted with my friend Dane Carbaugh who writes for SB Nation's NBA news desk, Blazer's Edge, A Young Sabonis and more.

Usually midrange shots are a kiss of death for offensive efficiency. Yet Portland is atop the nba in both. How do they reconcile these this anomaly?

As far as midrange shots go, you have to consider who is taking them. Aldridge is the one taking all the shots from 16-22 feet. Last I checked he was on pace to far surpass the amount of shots he was taking from that range from last year -- that was the year where everyone spent the first three months screaming about how he was taking too many long jumpers.

What is the usual M.O. for teams that beat Portland?

Score a bunch of points and shoot threes. Only two teams have beaten them without making at least six threes. Every team that has beaten them has shot over 50 percent.

Locking down on the arc is usually a key too, and Portland sometimes struggles to counteract that. Many times if a team does that they will simply penetrate with Lillard and Mo Williams more often, get real deep into the defense and draw off the corner defenders. But sometimes it feels like they forget that's a thing and they'll just keep forcing shots (or start taking two-dribble jumpers at 17 feet)

Robin Lopez has been a bit of a revelation for y'all this year but on paper it looks like bench depth might be a problem in the frontcourt. Do you agree?

Absolutely. If GM Neil Olshey makes a move before February 20 it will be for a backup post, someone who can play defense. When Joel Freeland was out with an injury earlier in the season it highlighted that problem right away.

People in Portland keep thinking that Olshey isn't going to trade a lot of the young talent he has stockpiled at the end of his bench but he's going to do whatever it takes to make sure this team can achieve what it needs to in the playoffs. You aren't saving a few multi-year projects if you have the chance to compete right now.

How smoothly do you see the addition of McCollum going when he comes back from his injury? How do you think he'll fit in the offense with his skill set?

I wrote about this on Wednesday but I think he will fit in well if he gets the chance. McCollum is a ball-dominant guard and that's ok, since the current guard rotation has Lillard and Williams playing together and they are both "ball-dominant guards."

Mo Williams should probably have more time at the off-guard spot to be honest. He's excelled as a spot-up shooter and a lot of the complaints Blazer fans have about him come when Lillard is out of the game and the ball is in Williams' hands at the point.

If McCollum could take better care of the ball I think they could be pretty efficient. It would also keep Dorell Wright from having to play at the 2, where he's struggled this year.

The question is more whether or not he's going to play. Giving heavy minutes to a rookie on a team like this might not be what Stotts is looking for.

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