Mar 20, 2012; Portland, OR, USA; Former Potland Trailblazers guard Brandon Roy sits court side as the Blazers play the Milwaukee Bucks at the Rose Garden. This was the first time Roy had been back in the Rose Garden since abruptly retiring at the beginning of the season. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-US PRESSWIRE
Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus has graciously provided the following rundown of former Portland Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy's return to the court in Seattle on Saturday.
SEATTLE -- On Saturday, Brandon Roy did something that used to be routine: He played a basketball game. Roy's performance at the Jamal Crawford Pro-Am League in Seattle was his first public appearance on the court since his last game for the Blazers some 15 months ago. In the interim, Roy has retired due to deteriorating condition of his knees, undergone treatment, started a comeback and agreed to sign with the Minnesota Timberwolves to start the next chapter of his career.
When close friend Will Conroy first hinted and later confirmed on Twitter last week that Roy would play, it created a buzz in the Seattle basketball community, but also some skepticism. Roy pulled out of a pair of charity games at the last minute during the summer of 2011, and he's yet to officially put pen to paper on his new contract with the Timberwolves. Yet Roy arrived about 20 minutes before gametime and changed into his red jersey. The teams in Crawford's team are all named after NBA teams, so for one day, Roy--along with Conroy and another former Husky, Mike Jensen--was a member of the Bulls. They squared off against a Kings team featuring Isaiah Thomas and former Blazer Martell Webster.
After scoring the first bucket of the game on a pull-up jumper going to his left, Roy was quiet offensively the rest of the first quarter. This being a pro-am setting that features a gap in talent between NBA stars and local preps that played at the community college level, it was difficult to tell how much Roy was trying to push things. He opened the game using his occasional drives to set up teammates rather than score at the rim.
By halftime, Roy had contributed about nine points and six rebounds in a close game. After the break, Roy started to remind us all of how he once could--and maybe still can--cook. He started getting to the basket on a regular basis, showing off the hesitation moves and body control that made him one of the NBA's top shooting guards. The Roy skills are still all there; the question is whether he still has the athleticism and explosion to harness them. In that regard, I would say Roy looked somewhat better than he did during the second half of the 2010-11 season, when he struggled for the Blazers.
Again, the setting makes it difficult to offer definitive conclusions. I would have liked to see more of Roy and Webster matched up against one another to get a sense for a matchup Roy might actually see in the NBA. This being the summer, defense is optional, and both teams poured in better than 110 points as Roy's Bulls pulled away with a 14-1 run midway through the fourth quarter. I'd estimate Roy probably finished with somewhere around 25 points, 10 boards and five assists; Thomas might have scored 35 points.
As limited as Saturday may have been from a scouting perspective, it was great to see Roy on the court again. His apparent early retirement was painful both because of the joy the game brought him and the joy his game brought all of us. On Saturday, we saw just a little bit of it again.
Here is a video reel of some of the action from YouTube user Kevin Cacabelos.
Roy has reportedly agreed to a 2-year contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
-- Ben Golliver | email@example.com | Twitter