Player-by-Player Jarrett Jack

We're going to go back and forth about each major player on the squad in the next couple weeks, talking about his plusses and minuses, what we've learned about him this year and his potential future.  Unlike the season review this is not as much comprehensive detail-work as presenting general arguments on either side of important issues for your consideration and discussion.  You can fill in your takes in the comment section and even bring up new stuff if you feel it's missing here.

I kind of figured after the exhaustive season review you're probably tired of hearing me drone on about the team, so to give me a break for these player reviews we're going to invite guest speakers to argue the pros and cons.

Today's subject is Jarrett Jack.  And for this opening discussion we are privileged to be joined by two luminaries as august as anybody who's ever spoken on this site.

Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for former president George Herbert Walker Bush.

                                            

Thank you.  Thank you.  My friends, we are here today to discuss a young man of integrity and honor, point guard Jarrett Jack.  I am not here today to convince you, for I truly believe you need no convincing.  I am here to remind you.

I was talking to Bar the other day, and I said, "Bar, why is it when you turn on the television nowadays all you see is bad news?  People are better than that.  Why don't they ever talk about the good side?"  And Bar said, "I don't know, George.  Have a cookie and a cup of tea.  There, that's better."  But it's not better, my friends, it's not better.  People are so ready to notice the spectacular, the unusual--whether that's good or bad--that they often miss the ordinary, wonderful things that are right in front of them every day.  This country wasn't built on what you see in the news.  This country was built on good, solid Americans going to work every single day, rain or shine, putting their noses to the grindstone, and making life better because of it.  That's exactly what Jarrett Jack does for this team and this organization.

I know Jarrett Jack.  I've watched Jarrett Jack play.  If you came to see a parachuting poodle prancing on a papaya, that's not him.  He's not a circus act.  He's not going to do your mumbo-jumbo, hocus-pocus.  What he is going to do is give you 45% shooting night in and night out.  He's going to shoot 35% from the three-point line.  He's going to hit from the free-throw line like clockwork.  He's going to drive and score if the opponent gives it to him and pass otherwise.  He's not going to go behind his back.  He's not going to go over his head.  This team doesn't need that.  He's going to make the smart, steady play.  He's going to give you 35 honest minutes every night and not make you regret playing him.

A lot of people are going to look at his other numbers, his low assist-to-turnover ratio, his dismal plus-minus numbers, and they're going to say you could do better.  Do not let the nay-sayers mislead you!  This man improved mightily in this, his first full year playing the hardest position in the game to master.  Could he lift his entire team out of the doldrums?  Of course not.  What young man with his age and experience could?  And yes, his team-oriented statistics reflect that.  But friends, don't be deceived into thinking that this means he can't play.  When the other young men on the team--the risk-takers, the flashy-dashy tightrope walkers--develop the same level of consistency that Jarrett Jack has then you will see those numbers rise.

Being a point guard is a lot like being President.  You can't do everything you want to do all at once because those mule-necked congressmen, or in this case front-court players, get in the way and sidetrack your agenda.  But at the end of the day the initiative starts with you and the responsibility ends with you.  You have to be a man of integrity to do that job.  You can't be a flip-flopper.  You can't be a start-and-stopper.  You need steady, mature leadership and that's exactly what Jarrett Jack provides.

Another question to consider, my friends:  How many draft picks has this team spent in recent years on the point guard position?  The answer is far...too...many.  Every one of those is a resource that could have been spent on filling another need.  Now that you have a player finally capable of manning the position you want to trade him away before he's even had a chance to develop?  You want to begin your search all over again and gamble on people who have proven less and might cost more?  Friends, that doesn't make any kind of sense at all.

The Portland Trailblazers made progress this year.  Everybody knows that.  Jarrett Jack was an integral part of that progress and will remain so for years to come.  As the great Abraham Lincoln once said, you don't change horses in mid-stream.  Can't do it.  Shouldn't do it.  Wouldn't be prudent.

Jarrett Jack deserves another season at the helm of this team.  I have confidence in his talent, I have confidence in his drive, I have confidence in his leadership.  You should too.

Read my lips.  No...new...point guard.

Thank you President Bush.  And now to present a rebuttal, former president William Jefferson Clinton.

                                            

Thank you!  My fellow Americans, you have heard the story of Jarrett Jack's leadership of this team, but you have only heard half the story.  It is true that Mr. Jack did a credible job leading this team during their long, hard season, but credible is all it was.  Sometimes steady is a catchword for reliability, but it can also be substituted for mediocrity.  And this team cannot afford mediocrity.  Some truths are harder to face than others, but I believe if we face them together there's no truth that can overcome us, no matter how difficult.  So let's face this one right now.  The Blazers are a young team.  The Blazers are an improving team.  But the Blazers are not yet a good team.  This team needs talent.  This team needs shining stars.  Credible is not good enough.  The Blazers need incredible.  And for all his steadiness incredible is not something Jarrett Jack is able to provide.

Of course Jarrett had his moments.  There was the 30 point, 10 assist game against Milwaukee.  There was a 20 point, 10 assist game against the Mavericks.  But those were few and far between.  Jarrett produced far too many five point efforts, far too many five assists efforts, and far too many five turnover efforts to be considered as a starting point guard.  His assist-to-turnover ratio was 40th in the league this year.  That means half the teams in the NBA have two players that produced better than Jarrett in the point guard's marquee statistic.  Blazer fans, I feel your pain. We cannot go on like this.

My opponent says a point guard is a leader.  I agree wholeheartedly.  A point guard must lead the team with his mind, hands, heart, eyes, and voice.  But none of that leadership does any good unless it shows forth in his play.  The point guard must lead emotionally as well as physically.  You need pop.  You need pizzazz.  You need a man who fires up the team and inspires confidence.  We have seen that from Brandon Roy.  We have seen that from Sergio Rodriguez.  We may see that from any number of point guards the Blazers could trade for.  We have not seen that from Jarrett Jack.  Instead we have seen nights of inspiration followed by weeks of emotional absence.

Most damning of all--and lend an ear here, because this is important--has been Jarrett Jack's lack of leadership on defense.  And believe me, if there's anyone who knows about flimsy defenses it's me...heh, heh, heh.  Leading the charge on offense is well and good, but if you don't play on both ends people can't respect you.  And Jarrett Jack did not lead on both ends this season.

It is not my intention to run down Mr. Jack.  I believe he is a fine individual and a competent player.  But that does not make him the answer for this team in this era.  Sometimes the old, reliable option is nice, but sometimes if something new, young, and fresh is available it really is the better choice.   I'm sure my wife Hillary would agree with...wait.  Why are you looking at me like that?  I was talking about point guards!  NBA point guards!  No...no of course that's not what I meant.  We've been through this!  Aw geez...wait!

My fellow Americans, I need to go.  Thank you and good night.

Well there you have it.  Here's Jarrett Jack's stat line.  You can have a look and decide for yourselves.  He's still on his rookie contract which basically runs through 2009-10 and never tops $3 million so that's not a huge issue.  Weigh in all you want below.  Is Jarrett a keeper or not?  Is he going to be great, good, so-so, or a bust?  What, if anything, would make you part with him?

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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