- Played 1 year for the Arizona Wildcats, where he averaged 19.7 ppg and 4.0 assists.
- Drafted #11 in the 2008 draft by the Indiana Pacers, then traded to the Blazers.
- Salary for this season is $2,143,080.
- Averages 12.4 minutes per game in games played; only played 53 games last year.
- 21 years old, 6'3, 200 pounds.
Bayless, Bayless Bayless.
Let's take a look at the facts. These observations are derived from both his statistics and extensive analysis of game film from high school and college.
Firstly, Bayless was a stud during college. He's proved that he can do a lot of things on the offensive end. First, he's a fast, athletic player. He has a prodigous vertical jump. He has decent ball handling, and can use all three of these assets to either drive and finish at the rim, or to drive and dish the ball to a teammate.
Secondly, Bayless is, at this point, not a true point guard. His game is geared towards the SG position; his offensive skill set would suit him very well for it. Sadly, he's not big enough or tall enough to play defense at the 2 guard position. Defending against other players his size, he does very well. He utilizes his speed and agility to play a harassing style of defense where he can shut down opposing players that are around his size, but he would have a tough time defending players who are 6'6 or 6'7. (He would be a great matchup against the lightning quick Aaron Brooks, but couldn't defend a player like Kobe Bryant or Dwyane Wade.)
Third, my point is that we shouldn't give up on Bayless as a point guard. He's fast, blindingly fast. For his size, he's surprisingly strong and has great stamina and athleticism. If he were to settle down a little bit, and focus on running a team rather than on scoring points, then his efficiency as a PG would improve. Also, if he were to improve his three point shooting (he is a blossoming shooter; averaged more than .400 3PT% during his time at Arizona but has only hit about 27% of his 3's in the NBA.
Athletically, Jerryd Bayless is a beast. He has great vertical, blinding speed, and good instincts near the basket. His game is geared towards playing the SG position, but his smaller size would make him a liability on defense, especially against elite players such as Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant. (Look at Ben Gordon for an example of this point.) He posseses all the intangibles- never gives up, scraps and fights for every ball posession, has the ferocity of a tiger and the heart of a lion. Essentially, his personality makes him a natural leader.
Whether he plays at the PG position or gets a few minutes at SG, or if the players decide to play 2 PGs at the same time, Bayless is sure to give it 100% on both the defensive and offensive ends. Given playing time, he will further develop his shot. At this moment in time, his passing is less than stellar, but is something that can be improved. Given his work ethic and dedication, he could blossom into a great point guard in the NBA if he were motivated and given playing time. He is a score-first point guard, and that's not necessarily a bad thing (look at Chris Paul).
Bayless definitely needs more playing time. Jerryd was picked with the 11th pick in the 2008 draft. How many other teams do you see letting their #11 picks lie around, not using them? OK, I'll give you that Steve Blake and Andre Miller are better point guards than Jerryd Bayless at this point in time. But Blake has no room for improvement; his play right now is as good as he'll ever play. Blake uses his inherent athletic ability to the max, and therefore is at his maximum potential for his athletic gifting. Andre is a great passer, but is reaching the end of his career.
Bayless has an upside on these two veterans. Everyone would agree that firstly, Bayless is more athletically gifted than Blake and Miller. I would even argue that he has more leadership potential than these two. If you've seen Jerryd make a great pass after driving to the basket, or dunking and getting an "And 1" (then subsequently screaming his defiance into the air), you might agree as well. I think his value mostly lies in being an elite point guard (if you can call it that) in the second unit. His scoring first mentality might not mesh with the high-powered trio of Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Greg Oden in the first unit, but it could do great things in the second unit. Look at the following chart of the Blazers' second unit with Bayless in the mix:
C- Joel Przybilla: Defensive leader of the team, works very hard for rebounds on the offensive and defensive end of the court. Very consistent player.
F- Travis Outlaw- Troutlaw will provide a good bit of offense for the team. His ability to pull up and take the jumper, as well as to drive on slower opponents at the PF position and finish at the basket or absorb the foul, mixed up with new dedication to defense, will make him a great backup forward.
F- Martell Webster- If Nic gets his starting job back after returning from surgery, Webster will be a difference maker in the second unit. So far, his defense looks great, and his offense has consistently made him a highlight reel player. He's also a great jump-shooter.
G/F- Rudy Fernandez- First and foremost a great shooter. Also a very good passer (McMillan rated him the second best passer on the team), and has good ballhandler. Is best suited for the SG position, but this year has also been playing a little bit of SF. Defense could use some work, but is a great offensive tool.
G- Jerryd Bayless- Brings a mentality to the team that attacks the paint. Forces second units to defend in the paint (as Chris Andersen is the only good shot blocker in the NBA in a team's second unit other than Przybilla, and Przybilla plays for the Blazers.) with much more effort and draws defenders off the perimeter. This definitely leaves wingmen open. With three deadly accurate three point shooters in the second unit, Bayless' ability to drive to the basket will lead to wide open threes by the other guards/forwards on the very talented second unit. This unit is built to run the fast break, and Bayless' on-court savvy and handles will give the Blazers a good chance of scoring a lot of fast break points.
So tell me what you think. I'll be glad to hear your feedback, etc. Thanks, and go Blazers!