FanPost

Poll: Next year's starting point guard

 

This isn't a quextion of who <b>should</b> be our starting PG next year.  Instead, I'm looking for predictions as to who it <b>will</b> be.  The choices:

  • Steve Blake:  The incumbent in the job.  Strengths: Good passer, makes few mistakes, runs the offense well, plays adequate defense against larger guards, good perimeter shooter.  Weaknesses: Defense against quick guards, not good at getting own shot, poor penetrator, not a Gifted Playmaker™.  My thoughts:  An excellent backup point guard; but a stretch in the starting role.
  • Jarrett Jack:  Last year's starter, though came off the bench this year.  Strengths:  Good penetrator, excellent foul shooter, decent outside shot.  Adequante defense against big guards.   Good relationship with Nate McMillan.  Saw lots of 4th quarter minutes.  Weaknesses:  Poor playmaker, especially on the fastbreak.  Did well running the "dump it in to Zach" offense, but has a hard time getting others involved.  Poor on the pick-and-roll.  Turnover-prone.  Poor defense against quick guards.  My thoughts:  Good third guard off the bench; but has a long way to go before a starting quality PG.
  • Sergio Rodriguez:  Last year's boy wonder, this year's whipping boy.  Strengths:  Brilliant passer, excellent ballhandler.  Excels at the pick and roll.  Weaknesses:  Occasionally sloppy.  Lousy defender, though improving.  Cannot create own shot, and doesn't shoot well when open.  Dominates the ball.  My thoughts:  Still an interesting project, but a LONG way to go for young Sergio.
  • Brandon Roy:  Needs no introduction.  Strengths:  All-Star; excellent ballhandler, very good passer.  Can get his shot any time he wants it; but is not selfish.  Good (though not lockdown) defender, good rebounder for a guard.  Brilliant in the clutch.  Weaknesses:  Can he run a fastbreak?  Can he defend guys like Chris Paul?  Would a move to the PG position full-time hurt him, especially if paired with a trigger-happy SG like a Rudy Fernandez?  My thoughts:  Definitely in the starting backcourt, exact role TBD.  May well be a hybrid guard.
  • Rudy Fernandez.  The best guard in Europe right now.  Strenghts:  Excellent scorer, especially off the ball.  Weaknesses:  Can he play point--I suspect not; he's included here mainly because I've seen his name mentioned in similar discussions.  Verdict:  Could be the starting 2G eventually, if Roy becomes the starting point.  Otherwise, a Manu-esque sixth man.  But a PG?  No.
  • Petteri Koponen.  MVP of the Finnish League; the best player by far in Finland.  Strenghts.  Good court vision, good size.  Weaknesses:  Hard to say--level of competition he has faced is nowhere close to NBA caliber.  Verdict:  Will not be in Portland next year.  Wisest course of action would be for him to move to a better European league like the ACB and prove his mettle there before talking NBA.
  • Jose Calderon.  Starting PG for the Toronto Raptors and the Spanish national team.  Will be busy in Beijing this summer.  RFA with the Raps, involved in a quarterback controversy with TJ Ford and may want out.  Portland often mentioned as a possible suitor.  Strengths:  One of the better starting points in the EC, was given All-Star discussion.   Steady player; a more talented Steve Blake.  Weaknesses:  The fact that he's involved in a quarterback controversy makes me suspicious--if he can't win the job over an often-injured T.J.Ford, why not?  Not a lockdown defender--something the Blazers need.  Verdict:  Possible, but I'd rather have the next guy.
  • Devin Harris.  Starting PG for the Nets, and for the Mavs prior to the Kidd trade.  Strengths:  Excellent defensive PG, also good penetrator and off-the-ball player.  Would be a perfect match with Brandon Roy in the backcourt.  Weaknesses:  Outside shot is suspect.  Coming off an injury.  Verdict:  Out of the non-All-Star-caliber PGs in the league, would match the Blazers the best.  But may be hard to acquire--has a difficult contract, and the Nets reportedly like him.  May not be available.
  • Draft Choice.  Obviously we don't know who this player is.  Rose and Bayless won't be around at #13, but guys like Westbrook or Augustin or Chalmers might.   Strengths: ? Weaknesses: ?, though you're not going to get a NBA-ready point guard at #13 and start him on opening night.  Verdict:  Portland doesn't get immediate PG help with the pick.  They might draft a point, but he won't be the starter.  Or, they might trade the pick or draft another need here.
  • Other NBA Veteran.  Besides Calderon and Harris, other veteran points might be available, through free agency or trade.  Some names to consider include Kirk Hinrich and Chris Duhon of Chicago--especially if the Bulls decide to draft Derrick Rose; Sam Cassell (UFA), Earl Boykins (UFA), Dan Dickau (UFA), Smush Parker (UFA), Jason Williams (UFA), Carlos Arroyo (UFA), Kevin Ollie (UFA), Beno Udrih (UFA), Damon Stoudamire (!).  Some big names who might be available if they opt out include Iverson, Gilbert Arenas, and Baron Davis.

The other three options assume that no single person unambiguously wins the job of Starting Point Guard of the Portland Trail Blazers.

  • Quarterback Controversy.  A bit of what we saw early this season, and a lot of what we saw in '05-'06.   In this scenario, no player demonstrates that he deserves the job, and players are yanked in and out of the starting line-up depending on how they do in practice.  If no trades occur to get us a veteran PG, and none of the young-uns step up, this could happen.  Nate has shown that he will run the club this way if he feels it is appropriate, even though the fans hate it.  Strengths:  None, really, other than as an incentive to develop.  Weaknesses.  The fact that this needs to be done means you don't HAVE a starting quality PG; a major liability.  Can be disruptive to team chemistry.  Verdict.  Unless something happens to Steve Blake, this won't happen--Blake's steady enough that Nate can depend on him if the other guys don't step up.
  • Depends on the opponent.  Reconfiguring the starting lineup to match up with the opposition isn't common in the NBA (it's often viewed as a sign of weakness), but it could happen.  This is less disruptive than the quarterback controversy--players know what their role is--but still.  Imagine a situation where a (for example) Chris Duhon or a Russell Westbrook gets the start against guys like Chris Paul, and a Jarrett Jack gets the start against PGs who aren't a threat to score.  Nate has done this somewhat the past year with the Channing Frye/Joel Przybilla shuffle at center.  Strengths:  Tactically makes a bit more sense.  Weakness:  Generally not done in the NBA; sign of low confidence in players.  Verdict.  Unlikely--the PGs we have all have similar weaknesses, especially at perimeter defense.
  • Unorthodox offense.  Here, Nate throws the standard NBA playbook out the window, and goes with a hybrid guard scheme, with Brandon Roy running the offense in the haflcourt, and a small "tweener" guard who isn't a great playmaker (but who can play well off the ball and defend opposing PGs adequately) playing alongside, possibly running the break as well.  Neither player is the point guard in this scheme.  Strengths:  Plays well to Brandon's skills, especially if you find a suitable tweener to pair with him.  Westbrook and Jerrod Bayless have been mentioned as possible guys in this scheme, though Bayless is a top 5 pick and Westbrook is probably gone at #13 as well.  GS kinda runs a similar setup with Baron Davis and Monta Ellis, with good success.   If you can make it work, it's like a successful 3-4 defense in football--you get LOTS of flexibility and lots of headaches for the other side.  Weaknesses:  Like the 3-4 defense in football, you need the right players.  We've got our nose tackle in Brandon Roy, now we need linebackers who can guard the line, chase the QB, and tackle the ballcarrier.   To really make it work, we need a tweener who can play good defense against the quick guards, and who isn't a pouty ballhog.  (The weakness of the Warriors setup is that Ellis is a lousy defender).   If Rudy were to show ballhandling and passing skills that he doesn't show with Spain or with Joventut (where he plays alongside guys like Calderon and Ricky Rubio), maybe he could fit the bill.  Verdict:  Possible, but none of the guys on the current roster fits the bill.