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Mid-Season Grades: The Guards

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We're halfway through the year so it's time to borrow a hoary old chestnut from the annals of sports writing and give out mid-season report cards.  I'm breaking these up into multiple posts, the better to give you opportunity to comment yourself without getting lost.  You can give your grades (and explanations) in the comment section of this post and when everybody is done we'll have a cumulative GPA for each player.

My grades are always based on the player living up to their own expectations.  A higher grade doesn't necessarily mean a better or more valuable player.

MIDSEASON GRADES:  The Backcourt

STARTERS

Jarrett Jack
We knew this would be Jarrett's year to prove he could be a starter and so far he's risen to the occasion.  He's had a couple spectacular games (30 points and 10 assists against Milwaukee, 20 points and 10 assists against Dallas) and a whole lot of solid ones.  He's nearly doubled his scoring and assist output from last season and has shown improvement in every major statistical category, even the percentage ones.  (OK, his turnovers have increased by 1 per game, mostly because of the extra playing time, but his assist-to-turnover ratio has risen from 2.15 to 2.43.)  Even more telling we're 4-10 in games where he's scored fewer than 10 points.  Because of Sergio's popularity Jack is undervalued right now, but not here.  Grade:  B+

Brandon Roy
It was no small matter to win the starting shooting guard position as a rookie, even on this guard-impoverished team.  Quite simply Roy has done everything expected of him and done it with flair...plus the occasional astonishing outburst.  Teams are starting to prepare for him now and he's still making them look silly most nights.  Sure his field goal percentage has been slightly low but it's improving lately.  Besides if you scan through the rookie guards you'll find that nobody shoots well their first year.  We always take it easier on young guys than on veterans but with Roy you almost don't have to.  Grade: A

BENCH

Juan Dixon  Fans don't like to give Juan his due, but I almost guarantee his job description at the beginning of the year looked like this:  come off the bench with energy, score points for us, and provide steady minutes when the rest of the team is falling apart.  Pretty much Juan has filled that to a "T".  No, he's not a great defender and no he's not the most consistent shooter (though he's flirting with an acceptable percentage), but when the rest of the team has been lost and struggling he's always been the guy to put the ball in the hoop.  Nate knows what he's got with Juan and that's why he gets more minutes than any other bench player not named Outlaw.  Grade:  B

Sergio Rodriguez  One of the things I'll do towards the end of the week is look back on my pre-season player reviews.  In Sergio's I said that he'd be lucky to play at all.  I was wrong.  Many times we've been lucky that he's playing.  He's captured the crowd's (and his teammates') imagination with his speed and passing skills.  He also has a little bit of toughness in him that I like.  He drops a dime every 3 minutes, 20 seconds on average which is an amazing rate.  His shot have improved from non-existent to fairly confident.  And nobody on this team even comes close to leading the break like he does.  Defense is a huge concern but again that's typical of rookies.  He's exceeded every reasonable expectation.  Grade:  A.  (With the caveat that if he's playing exactly the same one year from now his grade will be a little lower...he needs to pick up a couple things.)

Dan Dickau  The hometown hero has barely gotten off the bench this season.  When he has he's been serviceable but unspectacular.  His shooting percentages are in the toilet which is not good for an offensive-minded guard, but you can't expect any rhythm with such sporadic playing time.  He's remained aggressive nonetheless, figuring if he's out there he's at least going to go down doing something.  Other players might take a lesson from that.  Grade:  Incomplete

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)