Earlier this week, we noted that Zach Lowe of SI.com ranked Portland Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy as the No. 100 player in the NBA.
Two other Blazers guards appear in the top 90: point guard Raymond Felton (No. 89) and shooting guard Wesley Matthews (No. 88). Blazers forward Nicolas Batum (No. 81) also made the list.
Felton’s a tough guy to figure, since the Carmelo Anthony trade midway through last season took him out of his role as an entrenched heavy-minutes starter on a very good offensive team in New York and turned him into Ty Lawson’s backup in Denver. But if Felton can sustain the improved three-point shooting he has shown over the last two seasons, he can work as a league-average starting point guard — and when you list the point guards in the NBA, you realize pretty quickly that a league-average starter is a nice asset.
Matthews’ story — undrafted free agent to big-money signing — and obvious hyperactivity are endearing and have resulted in his becoming perhaps a tad overrated. That hyperactivity comes from a good place, though. Matthews works hard and loves to fly around the court.
The Nic Batum Explosion hasn’t happened yet, forcing his many devotees who are seduced by his length and unique skill set to continue to wait for his breakout season. His minutes jumped again last season, to 31.5 per game, but his numbers didn’t. His passivity on offense annoyed Portland coach Nate McMillan, who is waiting (along with the rest of us) for Batum to develop an attacking streak. He barely worked in isolation or on pick-and-rolls, relying instead on spot-up looks, cuts and screens to get his points.
Felton was acquired in a draft day trade for veteran point guard Andre Miller. Miller ranked No. 71.
Update: Matthews apparently feels he has been underrated. Responding to his ranking on Twitter, Matthews writes: "That's cool, thanks for making the chip on my shoulder a lot bigger."
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter