Breaking down the Blazers…….Part 2
Breaking down the Blazers by position….Part Two
Who is our point guard? And who do we want to be our point guard? These are two questions that have often been asked about our Portland Trailblazers over the last couple of seasons. We’ve had a number of players look to claim that spot over the years, Steve Blake, Sergio Rodriguez, Jerryd Bayless, Petteri Kopponen, to name a few. And we had another hopeful in Summer League camp in Patty Mills until he went down with an unfortunate foot injury.
Our point guards going into the 2009-10 season.
Andre Miller, starter
Steve Blake, backup
Brandon Roy, may pick up a few minutes here and there at the point
Bayless, not likely to see much time at this position unless there is an injury to Blake or Miller.
There may have been more questions about who the Blazers will use at this position than any other. Hopefully some of those questions were answered during the offseason with the free agent signing of veteran Andre Miller. Everyone knows that Brandon Roy will handle the ball, including our opponents. The guy got mugged in the playoffs last year and clearly needed some help. If you are one of those folks who insist Brandon Roy is the point guard on our team I respectfully disagree. He can fill that spot at times, but we are asking him to do so much already, in the long run its probably best if someone else initiates the fast break and starts the offense. Roy admitted as much after Miller was signed and said he was looking forward to fast breaking more. That was good news to me, and I’m sure to other fans who have been disenchanted with Nates ball control offense.
Despite what kind of smoke Nate was blowing around the wagons when he made his recent comments about Steve Blake being the starter, and not thinking it wise to tinker with the lineup of a 54 win team, Andre Miller is going to be our starter at the point guard position. We can say what we want about open competition in training camp, guys having to EARN their spots, or starters having secure jobs until someone takes them away……Andre Miller will take that postion, and he will do so because there is no one close to being as good as he is at the 1 on this team.
In our video locker we have some footage of Andre Miller. I like Steve Blake, but Blakey is not even in the same league as this guy. Has Blake Blocked Jermaine ONeal or Dirk Nowitzki? Nor does he have the inside game, fast break game, finishing ablility, or deadly mid range jumper. If you haven’t watched Miller play all that much or aren’t that familiar with his game check out the highlight reels. Andre can play. And he can play well enough that at one point signed a close to maximum contract with Denver.
The Trailblazers did not cough up the rest of their capspace on Andre Miller to give him the ten to fifteen minutes of PT, that last seasons backup Sergio Rodriguez got. Even though Miller was GM Kevin Prictchards third attempt at signing a free agent this summer he is still a player we wanted and who probably wanted to come here more than the other two did. He is a big upgrade over the incumbent Steve Blake and I, for one, and really looking forward to see what he can do with this team.
Miller is a smart player who has made every team he played for better. He is a leader. He is a teacher. He is a coach on the floor. And despite the fact that his arrival probably means Jerryd Bayless will again be sitting more than playing, Miller might just be the guy that ends up helping Bayless put it all together. Both are tenacious. Both are tough. And neither one of them is afraid of hard work.
LA and Oden probably don’t know it yet, but Miller is going to make both of them better. If they get open they WILL get the ball. Put Miller and Oden out there together, and I guarantee you that we won’t be seeing Greg wandering around wondering why no one will pass him the ball. He will get it. and he will get it on his way to the hoop where he can do the most damage with it.
Fans of Rudys special connection with his pal Sergio need not worry about missing out on those spectacular lobs and dunks. Miller is as good as anyone in the league with that pass. It won’t take long for these two to work that play out.
Miller grew up in a very rough neighborhood in Los Angeles and was raised by a single parent. She worked hard to make sure he learned how to get the things he wanted out of life. She made sure he put in the effort necessary for him to suceed scholastically, and athletically. Neither one of those things was particularly easy for Andre. He had to sit out a year in college so he could become academically eligible. His coach Rick Majerus later said of him that school was so difficult for him that he had to put in A effort, just to get a C. Miller ended up graduating from Utah with two degrees.
For several seasons now Steve Blake has started at point guard. The coach likes him. Kevin Pritchard likes him. His teammates like him. Thats real nice, but the sentiment was always that we could do better at that position. I’ve heard it said many times that people thought Blake was great, but what they would really like is for him to be our backup point guard and that he’d be the perfect backup for this team.
I’m not sure “perfect backup” is the spot Steve Blake envisions for himself as a career goal. He has been a very important part of our team for the last few seasons, and has earned the respect our coach was giving him when he declined the opportunity to handover the starting role to Miller before training camp.
Blake is at times a deadly three point shooter and can easliy transition into a 2 after dumping the ball off to Brandon. Having enough gunners on the floor to help with spacing and keep opponents from clogging the middle is important for our team.
I’m just kind of wondering at this point how the minutes are going to break down because Miller really should get most of them. If Miller gets the minutes that Blake got last year, is the ten to fifteen minutes Rodriguez got enough PT for Steve? I’m not sure it is. Maybe you try to keep Andre at about 30 minutes, Blake ten to fifteen and the remainder to Brandon? Or do you give a few minutes each night to Rudy? Rudy can do a lot more with the ball than he was given the chance to do last season. Until Miller was picked up there was talk of playing him at the point either to start the game, like he did in the last game vs Houston, or having him back up Blake.