Some more thoughts on Jerryd Bayless, since he, Ike Diogu, and Nicolas Batum are officially Blazers now.
I talked yesterday about the expectations for Bayless to do well in Summer League since his role is not defined. In my eyes there’s added expectation for him to perform given the situation into which he was drafted. You may recall me saying in several pre-draft interviews that I didn’t feel the Blazers were going to draft a point guard. As it turns out, I was wrong. Well, mostly wrong anyway.
There’s an ounce of wiggle room here in that Bayless is a combo guard. Jason Quick’s article the other day (scroll down for a discussion) had Nate McMillan wishing fervently for JB to play point, but frankly he was probably drafted for his scoring and potential defensive skills as much as for his ability to run an offense. Seeing as how he’s not even manning the point to start Summer League my guess is we’d all be better off expecting to see Jerryd as a sizzling scorer off the bench in the short-term instead of our answer at the one-spot. That’s not wholly inappropriate either. I don’t think anybody envisions Deron Williams here.
That said, the one caveat I offered in the pre-draft discussion was that if they did end up going with a point guard they must really feel that he’s something special. This was the fifth year in a row the Blazers used a first-round pick on a point guard: Sebastian Telfair, Jarrett Jack, Sergio Rodriguez, Petteri Koponen, Jerryd Bayless. At some point you have to start seeing a return. Telfair and Jack are gone. Hopefully Sergio’s arc will rebound but right now it looks like he’s on life support as far as playing time and role. Koponen still hasn’t shown he can make the team at all. Even if only two of those five picks were our highest first-rounders in the year they were used they were still assets. So far this is not a terribly impressive payoff. If Bayless cannot produce, and produce within a reasonable amount of time, the Blazers have to look in another direction. I wouldn’t be totally surprised if they did that anyway…if the plan all along was to have Bayless grow into the league as a back-up guard while they traded any (and maybe every) other point guard on the roster plus some forwards for a proven starter at point. Either way Kevin Pritchard making the move for this guy at this playing position, even though technically something of a steal as far as pre-draft projections, shows that he sees something there…probably more than you could assume had we drafted a back-up center or forward. Bayless needs to validate that at least a little. If he can’t, that’s a reason for concern.
Even though Summer League comes far too early to make any kind of reasonable judgment, all eyes will be on him next week for the early returns on the investment.