Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Trail Blazers Position Breakdown: Shooting Guard

For the foreseeable future, the shooting guard position is on lock-down as the strongest position for the Portland Trail Blazers. Starting is All-World, All-Everything Brandon Roy, who continues to be the poster boy for the rebirth of this Blazers franchise and seemingly always finds a way to improve his game just when you thought he was all tapped out of potential. I think its safe to say Roy is a bonafide top 10 player in the NBA and only behind future Hall of Famer's Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade in pecking order for the upper echelon of shooting guards. When the ball is in "The Natural's" hands, every blazer fan feels relaxed and anxious to see what kind of magic he is going to work, especially during end of game situations. Unlike the situation in Miami and Los Angeles when their stars go out, Portland is in good hands as they can hand the reigns over to Spanish sensation Rudy Fernandez. Although Rudy was a one trick pony towards the end of last season, it was a pretty damn good trick as he broke the all-time NBA Rookie record for 3 pointers made in one season, surpassing the 158 Kerry Kittles set in the 95-96 season.
As much of a bright spot as the 2 guard position was for the Blazers in 08-09, it should shine even brighter for 2010. Rudy is finally able to take the summer off and give his body a chance to rest. He played a full season with DKV Joventut in 07-08, then helped Spain nab the silver medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and in under a months time, he was thousands of miles away from his home and preparing to play well over 85 games in the toughest league in the world. Come to think of it, it was pretty amazing just how effective he was as the energy boost off of the bench on what seemed like no body rest, considering since 2004-2005, Fernandez was playing, on average, 26 games per season for DKV Joventut. I have a feeling a well-rested, rejuvenated Rudy will lead to more of this and this.
Like Rudy, Roy showed signs, albeit fewer, of wearing down last year due to the team putting too much on his plate over the course of the season. At times during the 1st round series vs. Houston it seemed like it was 1 on 5 as his teammates just stood around and watched Brandon create everything. It wasn't just during the playoffs either. There were multiple times over the course of the year that Coach Nate dialed up Roy's number to run the show in the 2nd quarter of games to keep the game close. Roy is great, but he can't keep this up for much longer which is why I am so excited about Rudy's progression and the addition of Andre Miller to take the burden of running the team off of his shoulders for parts of the game. As mentioned earlier, Roy is the 3rd best 2 guard in the game, and if he wants to up the ante and become a legit MVP candidate or become the first Blazer since Clyde Drexler to be named All-NBA 1st Team, the defense must improve. I do not fault him for being a little lack on the defensive side of the ball for 3 quarters of the game due to having to handle so much responsibility on offense, but with Andre coming in and the progression of Oden, Aldridge, Batum, Fernandez, and Outlaw, they should be able to pick up more of the slack on offense, which would give Roy more energy to play the fantastic defense we have seen from him before.
Lets face it, Roy and an 8th grader would be one of the best 2 guard combos in the league. He's that good. Every year he continues to blow my mind away. Now, put high flying, 3 point specialist Rudy Fernandez next to him and you have the best shooting guard depth in the NBA. One is a top 10 player in the entire world and the other is a legitimate 6th Man of the Year candidate.
2009-2010 Trail Blazers Shooting Guard Grade: A+


  1. Yep, Roy's the real deal. He's an underrated defender, too. I remember him checking Carmelo Anthony at the end of a game last year and holding him down.

    In terms of Rudy, having Andre tossing those lobs should help him get more easy buckets, too.

  2. He is underrated as a defender, I just don't think he has had the energy in the past to put it on display, because he's been carrying the team on his back.
    I agree, Rudy shouldn't miss Sergio too much, Dre Day is a better lob thrower anyways.
    I think the biggest improvement in Rudy's game will be the rest factor. A rejuvenated Rudy should be the Rudy we saw all of November and December, doing more than just standing in the corner bombing 3's.