A pretty consistent theme of the pre-season has been to analyze how Andre Miller helps or hurts Brandon Roy's game. Another consistent theme has been the progression of Greg Oden and the superior play (if not fit) of Andre Miller over Steve Blake.
This has been swirling around my head for weeks and it has led to a few questions I wanted to ask all of you.QUESTION #1 - Why are we so concerned with how others "fit" with Brandon?
I realize this may sound like an asinine question, but stick with me for bit. Brandon Roy is undeniably the most important player on the team. He may end up being the best Trail Blazer of all-time. I have watched Brandon play since his days at Garfield HS in Seattle and at UW. The constant strength of Brandon was to make the players around him better. He's always had an outstanding court sense and ability to blend into the talent around him. I always had him pegged as the perfect "Scottie Pippen" to someone's MJ at the professional level. It wasn't until the NBA that he emerged as a premier scoring threat that had me thinking he might be the leading man and not the supporting cast. Even so, Brandon's ability to blend has not disappeared. His ability to accentuate the strengths of those around him has not left him. Will Conroy and Nate Robinson were PGs at UW that had the rock most of the game, and were not elite shooters. It still worked. When it got to crunch time, guess who was bringing the ball up the court and took the big shots?
It's not particularly hard to take advantage of a player of Brandon's talents. At *any* point in *any* game, you can give him the ball, go 1-4 (four players spaced along the baseline), and let him work. No PG playing next to him will take that option away. Brandon is already a great player. There is not a player in the league that you could stick next to him that would eliminate his skills or cease to make him great. This is a guy that has gotten every accolade possible since leaving school, and just got a MAX contract, so he should also be uniquely positioned to be focused on team improvement over individual improvement.
Taking a step back, a player like Andre Miller may not naturally accentuate Brandon's game as a scorer, but Brandon is so much more than a scorer that people should be asking if the team is better with Miller, not simply whether Brandon is better. Brandon scoring less, assisting more, rebounding more, defending more, taking less of a beating and being fresher come the fourth quarter and playoffs is not a bad thing.
QUESTION #2 - Is Greg's gain a step backward for the team (in the short-term)?
For years now, the development of Greg Oden as a player has felt inextricably linked to the development of the Blazers as a championship contender. This year, we are all salivating over what appears to be a breakthrough season-to-be for Greg. The contrarian inside has me wondering if the emergence of a potentially dominant interior player will cause the team to take a step back before it can move forward.
As we all know, dominant interior players are few and far between. It's a good bet that the majority, and possibly all, of the Blazers have never played with a dominant center at any level. Reaping the rewards of a great center is much easier on defense and on the glass. Adapting an offense that has been decidedly "center-free" is another story. Having patience to allow for post position to be established. Passing out and re-posting when the shot is not there initially. Spacing along the perimeter to keep the lane from getting clogged. All these things take some getting used to when your offense has been built around a player like Joel at center.
My lingering question is whether people are so focused on Andre Miller's potential negative impact on players like Roy that they have missed the bigger area of impact to offensive rhythm. We're all so delirious with Oden's individual improvement that I think we've failed to analyze how the team may not be better for it in the short-term. That's not to say we should wish away Oden's development at all. I love watching that guy play!! Just wondering how long it will take for the team to adjust.
QUESTION #3 - Which is more important: a PG that makes Roy better or a PG that makes Oden better?
This question should not need much explanation. I'm just curious what people think. As you can surmise from my earlier questions, I certainly think someone that makes Greg better is more important to the team. I don't think Roy needs any help to be great, and if he is the player I think he is, he can thrive in any lineup.