Player-by-Player: Steve Blake

 

Minutes--  Last Year:  27.1  This Year: 29.9  Change:  +2.8

Points-- Last Year: 6.4 This Year:  8.5  Change:  +2.1

Field Goals Attempted--  Last Year: 6.2  This Year: 7.9   Change:  +1.7

Field Goal Percentage--  Last Year: 41.1%  This Year:  40.8% Change:  -0.3%

Three-Pointers Attempted--  Last Year:  2.5  This Year:  3.7  Change:  +1.2

Three-Point Percentage--  Last Year: 32.2%  This Year:  40.6  Change:  +8.4%

Free Throws Attempted--  Last Year:  0.8  This Year:  0.8  Change:  0.0

Free Throw Percentage-- Last Year: 67.2%  This Year: 76.6% Change:  +9.4%

Offensive Rebounds-- Last Year:  0.3  This Year: 0.4 Change:  +0.1

Defensive Rebounds-- Last Year: 1.8  This Year:  2.0 Change:  +0.2

Overall Rebounds-- Last Year:  2.0  This Year: 2.4  Change:  +0.4

Assists-- Last Year: 5.0 This Year: 5.1  Change:  +0.1

Steals--  Last Year: 0.7  This Year: 0.7 Change:  0.0

Blocks-- Last Year: 0.1 This Year:  0.0 Change:  -0.1

Turnovers-- Last Year: 1.6 This Year: 1.4 Change:  -0.2

Assist-to-Turnover Ratio-- Last Year: 3.1  This Year: 3.6 Change:  +0.5 

 

Salary Status:  One year remaining at $4.6 million then a team option for $4.9 million

 

Steve Blake was brought to Portland for three reasons:

1.  To shepherd the youngsters at wing, forward, and center from the point position, getting them the ball where they could do damage without dominating the game.

2.  To provide Nate McMillan someone he could trust.

3.  To push the other point guards for the starting position.

Given those guidelines you have to say Blake’s season was a rousing success.  At the very least you have to say he didn’t interfere with the progress of our young stars.  Even that faint praise is not to be taken for granted.  How many point guards in this league are selfless enough to lay aside their own agenda and adopt the team focus so completely as Blake?  And that is the very least you can say about him.  He was the point guard on three of our top four 5-man units.  He probably helped our more prominent players more than we realize.  His substantial minutes and starting role showed that he also fulfilled objectives two and three.  Done and done.

But defining his season simply in terms of others doesn’t capture it fully.  Blake’s rise in three pointers attempted and three point percentage showed his value to this particular incarnation of the Blazers.  Besides a competent set-up man this was the attribute the team needed most.  His 40.6% three-point shooting clip was a near career high, exceeded only by his 41.3% performance the last time he wore a Portland uniform.  Towards the end of the season he began displaying some ability to get his own shot as well, usually reserved for keeping the defense honest.  This was an eye-opener, but again timed when the team needed it. 

If you want to describe Blake’s strength in a single sentence the best one is:  He gives you whatever you need--whether that’s his natural strength or not--and he does it without disrupting the game.

Obviously his stellar assist-to-turnover ratio speak well of his ability to man the helm and shows exactly why he earned Nate’s trust.  His tough-mindedness and chutzpah sealed the deal.  You just can’t help liking him and our coach did.

That’s not to say Steve is perfect, or even ideal.  He had up-and-down offensive nights.  His body doesn’t match his heart, especially on defense.  He still shoots in the low 40’s.  How many teams during the first three-quarters of the season did we see him get in the lane off the dribble only to get stuck, unable to think of scoring?  His not dominating the ball or the game is an asset for this lineup, but that asset slips too easily into not affecting the game.  If there’s a failing in the Roy-Aldridge pairing it’s the occasional lack of spark.  Blake is feisty, but he’s neither a flame-thrower nor a fire-starter.  If you’re thinking starting guard you just need…more.  This is exactly why almost everybody loves Steve but very few claim him as their favorite player.

The complaints and doubts, though, mostly involve future potential and prospects.  (They also cease entirely as soon as you remove the burden of the prospective starting role from him.)  This is supposed to be more of a recap than a future prospectus.  Under those terms it’s pretty easy…

Verdict:

 

Blake_medium 

                            Good job, baby!  Way to play with others!

 

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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