Missing the Point?

One of the low-simmering debates around Blazerland the last month or so involves Brandon Roy's position--specifically whether he's going to be a point guard or a shooting guard.  Clearly he has skills to match either position.  The question is, where will he fit best?

The idea of Roy at the point is intriguing.  His height is a major factor.  Much like a tall quarterback looking over his line, a 6'6" point guard would have an easier time seeing the court.  Also he'd have a ready-made mismatch most nights in the post, and given the era he came up in I don't think Coach McMillan would have objections to thowing a little old-school, turn-of-the-century point guard posting into the offense.  Roy wouldn't have to add as much bulk as a point guard as he would at the two-spot, quickness being the most valuable asset.  He's also got the unselfish personality that is required of a true point guard...something which may actually inhibit his progression as a shooting guard.  Plus, despite the skills, Roy is not cut from the hyper-athletic mold of most NBA shooting guards.  He's looking forward to a long career of getting out-muscled, out-jumped, eventually out-run, and having to use wit and guile to compensate.  He won't be a Randy Johnson-type power player, more of a Jamie Moyer.  This is certainly still valuable, but if you were convinced he could be dominant at the point that might be a better option, because he probably won't be at the two.

On the other hand, there might be some wisdom to keeping him as a shooting guard.  His passing and dribbling skills are very good...for a two-man.  If you shift him to the point his skills become average at best for the position.  Besides, having that second ball-handler, ball-mover, and vision guy on the court takes a lot of pressure off of your point guard and really opens up the floor from every position.  Sebastian Telfair had great passing skills but there was little room to display them because every other player on the court with him was an endpoint, not a conduit.  All the opponent had to do was sit on a couple of angles radiating from Bassy and he couldn't do anything but dump it off ineffectively.  Roy alleviates that situation.  Scoring is a definite strength for Roy, and we traditionalists get nervous when our point guard does more scoring than sharing.  Better put: it might be nicer for Brandon to be able to explore his scoring potential without having to also worry about running the team.  And if you say Roy is going to get out-muscled as a shooting guard you also have to say he's going to get out-quicked as a point guard.  The thing is, it's easier to add muscle than quickness.  You can compensate for lesser strength with greater brains, but it's hard to compensate for lesser agility because by the time your brain fires and your muscles respond the guy is already by you.  Also you tend to pick up fewer fouls getting overpowered than you do when the opponent is quicker than you.  Finally, and perhaps not insignificantly, shooting guard is Roy's natural position.  It's not like former shooting guards haven't assumed point duties before, but that road is pretty long.  How far in the future do we want to push Brandon's full contributions, and how much do we want to risk his development?

I think you can make arguments either way, but if we do move him to the point my question is this:  What the heck have we been doing in the draft the last few years?  First we draft Bassy.  Then when we have a shot at Chris Paul or Deron Williams we say no because we already have Bassy.  Then a year later we decide to trade Sebastian to make room for Jarrett Jack, who is supposedly the future.  Then with the draft pick we got in return for Bassy we take...another point guard?!?  (And then you've got to factor Sergio in there too.)  Would somebody explain to me why it takes three years and four first-round picks--Telfair, Jack, Roy, Sergio--to fill one roster spot?  And why filling that spot somehow included passing on two players that right now look like they're going to be the best of their generation at that position?  And what we're going to do to fill the now-gaping spot left by Roy's switch, namely shooting guard (which we've needed to address for years and haven't)?  None of those questions have to be answered if Roy remains at the two, but switching him to the point and dumping Jack sheds a whole new light on this "rebuilding" process...and it might not be a pleasant one.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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