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The Point Guard Piece

I've been meaning to do a piece on our point guards for some time now but so much has been said in the comments (and just about everywhere else) pro and con about all of them that I'm not sure there's much left to say.  So instead of doing a full run-down of them all I decided to kind of sum up the whole issue in a way I think everybody can accept and take as hope for the future.  This summary is going to be slanted towards optimism and feeling good about all of these guys and that's intentional.

For each of our four PG's (I'm not counting Roy yet because frankly if he ever moves to full-time point all of this is moot) I'm going to list all the good things I can think of about them...the reasons they're on this team.  I'm also going to list one (and only one...mostly) area of concern.  There are, of course, more weaknesses than that for all of them but I'm only concentrating on the most pressing.

So here we go.

Steve Blake

Why He's Here:

Blake is here because he's a dependable, multi-purpose point guard, kind of like a utility infielder in baseball.  He's decent at most everything he does.  He's averaged better than a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio the last couple of years.  He's a career 37% shooter from distance.  He knows how to run the offense whether you're playing a running game or setting up the ball.  He knows how to get other people the ball in places they can score and what's more he relishes doing just that.  He doesn't need to touch the ball, dominate the floor, or even score to be effective.  He's a very nice complementary player for whatever stars you have.  He won't hurt you when he's out there.  You can start him or bring him off the bench with equal confidence.  He'll work hard and fight for his position.  He shoots well from the free throw line and plays decent defense.  Basically you don't have to worry about him.  This is a real asset on a young team and may very well be just what the doctor ordered in 3-4 years when every other position in the starting lineup is likely to be filled by a star player.

What Concerns Me:

The fact that you know just what you will get from Blake is his greatest strength but also his weakness.  What you see is what you get, and with minor fluctuations that's probably all you're ever going to get.  Blake is never going to score 15 and get 8 assists for a whole season.  (Though on the right team I guess he could approach that assist number.)  He's a pair of fours in the hole playing poker.  That's a good hand to bet on but you have to be aware when all the cards are out there several hands will beat it.  The question playing Blake is not what you have, but what you might be giving up by not going with someone else.

Jarrett Jack

Why He's Here:

We've seen enough good performances from Jarrett that we're starting to demand more, but it's easy to forget that this guy was picked in the mid-20's a couple years ago.  There was no guarantee that he'd even make it.  He has worked very hard under some trying conditions and I don't think anyone doubts he will have a nice career in this league.  One of his greatest strengths is his ability to score with little warning.  When his confidence is high he becomes very hard to stop.  He doesn't need to hold the ball much to get in rhythm.  You can pass it to him and then three seconds later the ball is in the hoop.  He's a 45% shooter so far in his career which is very good for a guard.  He shoots extremely well from the foul line and his three-point shot is improving.  He might well have the entire offensive package.  He has a solid body and is unlikely to get pushed around.  He can use it to great effect offensively and if he learns to move his feet well he could become a nice defensive player as well.  It's hard to tell what kind of floor general he is given the Blazers' offense last year.  He seems competent in setting up the halfcourt offense but he needs more time out there before we know.  We know enough to say he doesn't hurt you.  At worst he probably turns out to be Steve Blake with a much higher scoring potential.  He could turn out to be one of the most dependable all-around guards in the league.

What Concerns Me:

There's no doubt Jack's best attribute right now is his scoring.  He could turn out to be one of those guys who can't contribute to his fullest (or can't contribute happily) unless he's a focal point.  It's unlikely he will be an offensive focal point on this team in the future.  If he's wasted in a supporting role he won't belong here.

Sergio Rodriguez

Why He's Here:

Sergio undoubtedly has the highest ceiling of any of our four guards.  He's an incredibly gifted passer.  As a rookie he had the 15th best assist-to-turnover ratio among guards in the league.  On instinct alone he runs the break better than any point guard we've seen here since the 70's and 80's.  He's unselfish to a fault.  He's deadly quick on penetration and can't be trapped.  His 42% overall shooting clip is acceptable.  His 81% success rate from the foul line is better than that, and he should be the type of player who draws a lot of fouls.  He single-handedly increases the pace of the game the minute he steps on the floor.  You just do not see that from many players.  When he's free to play his game he often takes your breath away.  He has more potential to change the game than any of the other three point guards.

What Concerns Me:

Sergio's play is unselfish in that he prefers passing to shooting, but his game is kind of self-centered in the sense that when the game is not centered on him he loses his effectiveness.  When the ball is not in his hands and he's not creating the play he doesn't demonstrate a good understanding of the game.  This is true whether he's on defense, playing on offense away from the ball, or even when he's called upon to bring the ball up the court and just dump it off to another guy.  It might not even be fair to say Sergio is not a good defender or a good off-the-ball player or a good, basic set-up point guard.  Saying that would imply he can't do it.  I think we're a step away from even knowing if he can do it because it doesn't look like he knows what he should be doing.  He's not trying and failing, he doesn't know what to try.  In a way that gives hope because it means there's a chance he can reach his potential with just some more experience.  On the other hand the track record isn't really good for guys who are this raw at the point guard position becoming really excellent point guards.  When guys come in with fatal flaws they tend to keep them, if nothing else because coaches are reluctant to entrust such a vital position to players who haven't shown they can handle it.  Sergio is much more of a high-risk/high-reward player than the other point guards.  He has greater potential, but probably less of a chance to reach it fully.

Taurean Green

Why He's Here:

The best thing about Taurean is that you can be sure that he's going to fulfill every drop of potential in him and maybe a little bit more.  He knows who he is, he knows how to work, and he will learn what is expected of him and give his utmost to do it.  He leaves it all out on the floor every time.  He doesn't drift or disappear.  He's going to go down shooting or scrambling or whatever it is he does.  He's not afraid and he doesn't back down.  He exerts more energy on defense than he does on offense.  He won't be reluctant to take the deciding shot but he's just as willing to dive on the floor.  He won a championship in college being effective with brighter stars on the floor and there's no reason to think he won't do the same in the NBA.  He understands the game well and isn't afraid to ask questions.  He will be one of those "soak it up like a sponge" guys.  Most of all you just notice him every time he's out on the floor.  This is not as true of the other guys, even Sergio sometimes.  Taurean's going to make something happen.

What Concerns Me:

I have the same concern that Dwight Jaynes does.  Jarrett and Sergio each have specific physical attributes that give them an edge.  Taurean is a good athlete no doubt, but he's going to be one of those smaller guys who always has to overcome his stature instead of being propelled by it.  It's not like he's Mugsy Bogues (or even Damon Stoudamire, despite the comparison) but he's not exactly a 6'4" powerhouse either.  In some ways this limits his potential to become as great as his heart would make him.  It may even mean he's not a full-time starter on a great team.

There you go.  There's reason to like them all.  There's also reason to say, "Maybe this isn't the guy" for each one of them.  In the end point guard probably won't be a spotlight position on this team anyway.  You may end up keeping the guys who fit best which may or may not be the guys who are most talented and/or have the most potential.  Whoever makes Brandon, Lamarcus, and Greg look best (or makes the opposition look worst) are the guys we're likely to go with.  At this point we don't know who that will be.

--Dave (