Is the Mythical "Point Guard of the Future" Really Necessary for the Portland Trail Blazers?

Dave,

I've thought on this for a while. Unless the Blazers pull a miracle out of a hat and convince Deron Williams to come to Portland I don't see them getting their PGOTF. There aren't any in the draft worth mentioning. Am I missing someone? Help me out! Give me a solid plan or at least something to hold onto to hold off the misery I feel when contemplating the future.

OK, first of all they don't have to pull a miracle out of a hat. You're mixing metaphors there. They have to pull their Ruby Slippers out of a hat and click them three times while looking in a mirror and saying, "Kyle Lowry! Kyle Lowry! Kyle Lowry!" Then he'll appear. But nobody step on a crack or you'll break his back! We've had quite enough of that around here.

But let's assume that Williams goes to Dallas, that Houston likes Lowry enough to let Goran Dragic walk, and that the Blazers are left picking over mediocre point guards. Is that so bad?

Not necessarily.

Granted, this is the Era of the Point Guard. Both rules and talent have shifted towards that position in the last decade. If you can get a guy you love at that position, you should go for it! But you also have to realize that in this era a point guard you didn't draft yourself is going to cost you more to acquire, pound for pound, than anybody outside of upper-tier centers. Here's my theory: if everybody's storming the counter for lobster, get crab! You can still make a tasty dinner and you'll save yourself a bunch of time and ten bucks a pound in the process.

Plenty of teams have found success (Chicago) or instant improvement (Clippers) going the point guard route. But you don't have to look that hard to see teams succeeding without a prime PG. The Lakers and Heat are extreme examples. Obviously the Blazers aren't going to be acquiring Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, or Dwyane Wade anytime soon. But they show it can be done, even at the elite level. Look at Indiana, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Dallas. These aren't the best teams in the league but they're all in the playoffs, a darn sight better than the Blazers right now. None of them have point guards you'd classify as elite or even All-Star level. They have serviceable point guards surrounded by clearly talented players. No matter whether their goal is becoming good next year or elite down the road, the Blazers could opt for that side of the ledger rather than the Chris Paul-Derrick Rose side.

The Blazers have to grab any elite player they can find right now, regardless of position. But assuming no clearly dominant players come their way, all other things being equal I'd take two good players at non-point-guard positions right now over one good point guard. The team has too many holes to fill to obsess over a single position, no matter how critical they perceive that position to be. Build the right team and your point guard will come, probably enthused and easily able to fulfill what you ask of him. Get the wrong point guard now because that position is prioritized and you'll have a hard time fitting the rest of the puzzle around him without hitting salary cap barriers off the court and ball-control barriers on.

So what's the plan? Unless an elite guy jumps into your arms, be relatively position-neutral in this off-season. Celebrate the Blazers getting talent on board no matter what that talent looks like. You're going to end up with a weak spot somewhere anyway. If that's still at point guard, take another stab next year when the need will hopefully be less because of the great guys you just picked up.

--Dave (blazersub@gmail.com)

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