Sunday, August 30, 2009

Trail Blazers Position Breakdown: Point Guard

With only about 6 weeks until the Trail Blazers kick off the 2009-2010 pre-season, I will be going through the Blazers roster and breaking down each position by depth. First up are the point guards. In one fell swoop, Kevin Pritchard turned a weakness into a strength by acquiring former Sixer guard Andre Miller with a 3 year deal back in late July. I know I don't speak for all of Blazer Nation, but I cringed and prayed every single time Steve Blake would exit the game, and no, it's not because I am his #1 fan, far from it in fact. Our backup point guard situation was easily the biggest weakness in 2009 and bottom 5 in the league. Sergio Rodriguez would come in and dribble the ball until divots were made in the hardwood. Once or twice a month he would have his 3 point shot going, but mostly, if he did anything worthwhile, it was his knack for getting fellow Spaniard Rudy Fernandez the ball in optimal scoring situations as seen here. Jerryd Bayless showed flashes of brilliance and why he was considered a top 5 lock in the 2008 draft, such as his 23 point outburst at New Jersey, but he never really got consistent minutes which made it hard for him to perform when called upon sporadically throughout the season. So, back to when Blake came out for a breather, Blazer fans were left with two options, looking away or praying. If by chance Bayless got the early call, he would press too much, play overly aggressive and commit unnecessary fouls, and end up looking like a rookie. El Chacho would dazzle the crowd at times with his uncanny ability to ready Rudy's mind, but he'd throw it all away on the other side of the court by playing his notorious matador defense. On draft day 2009, the Trail Blazers sent Rodriguez packing south to Sacramento for nothing more than a salary dump and to move up 2 spots in the 2nd round. Basically, the Blazers essentially traded Sergio for Andre Miller, which now gives Portland one of the best point guard depths in the league. By signing Miller outright, Portland is able to move 2 year starter Steve Blake to run the 2nd unit. Not only will Andre take pressure off of Roy in regards to play making, but he will become a much better starting point guard for the Blazers than they had in years previous. What is even more satisfying and comforting is knowing that once Dre heads for the bench, the Blazers are in good hands with the even keel Blake running the show. Blake goes from being one of the top 5 worst starting point guards in the game to being a top 5 backup. If for any reason Blake or Miller are in deep foul trouble or miss a game, Bayless has a year of experience under his belt and should be able to man the ship for a short period of time. The only issue I could foresee would be Bayless being grumpy and eventually putting out negative vibes since he is now relegated to 3rd string for a 2nd consecutive year while he sees his former AAU buddies and 2008 draftees soak up the playing time, not even mentioning how ultra-competitive he is. I don't think this will in fact happen, but if something goes wrong with this unit, it's my best guess. Hopefully, he is getting words of encouragement from KP and Coach McMillan on being patient, Blake is pushing 30 and Miller is 33, and keeps his promise that he would never become a team cancer. Last season, the point guard group would have been lucky to obtain a grade of C, but everything has seemingly moved upside down. Blake's unwillingness to take risks and steady play, once upsetting with the 1st unit, will be welcome with open arms running with the 2nd unit and keeping or increasing the lead. Instead of having our starting point guard not be a threat to score on offense, with Miller, Portland can go after the CP3's and Tony Parker's by making them play defense as well know Dre loves to work down low on the blocks. Finally, Bayless is amazing insurance. I feel like USC when it comes to quarterback depth, having a star in waiting as our 3rd stringer is a luxury.
2009-2010 Trail Blazer Point Guard Grade: B+


  1. Miller will do a much better job of getting easy buckets for our bigs and Roy. WIN. And Blake is an excellent backup/insurance policy.

    And yes, I also cringed at Sergio many times, often because of his horrific defense. Blake's pretty bad, too, but Sergio probably couldn't guard Steve Kerr NOW.

  2. Yea, Blake is pretty lousy on defense but at least you can tell he is trying out there. Sergio just wanted to get back on offense and run.
    Miller's defense isn't THAT great, but he at least forces his opposition to play D on him.

  3. They are solid at point. Hopefully Bayless can take his game to the next level.