clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Jerryd Bayless Has Haters (but Mike Tokito ain't one of 'em)

New, comments

Earlier this week, I pointed to some comments on AZCentral.com that left the impression that Jerryd's determination and drive might have rubbed some people the wrong way.  Reading through Mike Tokito's recent column on Kevin Love published on Oregon Live, I stumbled on this curious passage.

Jerryd Bayless of Arizona went No. 11 to Indiana, then was traded to Portland. This is very interesting on a lot of fronts. Bayless is a hyper-competitive guy who can score big, but I wonder about his ability to play point guard, which I assume is what Portland has in mind for him. He had to play the point when Nic Wise was injured for the Wildcats, but his best position seemed at shooting guard. Also, I can't remember the last time I saw someone as frustrated as Bayless was during the Wildcats' loss to Oregon at Mac Court, just horrible body language.

Bayless is a strong guy who takes contact very well and is fearless going to the basket, a bit like Brandon Roy in that sense. I'm curious to see how he fits in. Very interesting pickup by the Blazers.

To me, this knock on Bayless seemed similar to the one we heard previously: he's a competitive, fearless guy that has trouble (potentially) playing well with others.  Definitely a sticky situation for an incoming rookie.

At that point, I realized that I might be reading too far between the lines.  So I contacted Mr. Tokito today for an extended analysis of Mr. Bayless and what he brings (and what, if any, baggage he brings) to the Blazers.  

Here's Mr. Tokito's response via email.

I saw Bayless play five or six times in person and probably another 10 on TV last season, and I really like his game. I thought he played an NBA style in that he would go strong to the basket and take contact, either finishing or getting to the line, where he's a very good free throw shooter. He also has good shooting range, and he seemed like a good on-ball defender.
     I saw where Kevin Pritchard said he sees Bayless as a combo guard more than a point, which is good. I don't really see him as the Blazers long-term answer at the point, at least not immediately. The guy can play the point, and he had to for part of the season after the Wildcats' starter, Nic Wise, got hurt, but it was one of those deals where as the main offensive option, Bayless needed to both bring the ball up and figure out a way to get himself shots.
    I never did interview him one-on-one, so I can't give you a great take on his personality.
    The thing I saw with Arizona was that it wasn't a very cohesive team, with players not really rallying around one another much. Bayless was easily the team's best player, but you never saw him leading his teammates or even cheering from the bench. But the whole team was like that, as if no one was having any fun.
    I think most of it was the unusual circumstances on that team, with Lute Olson taking that mysterious leave of absence, and with an interim coach in Kevin O'Neill who preferred to play a defensive-oriented style, but with a roster intended to play Olson's uptempo style. Bayless was asked to carry a huge load, and I saw him play 39, 40 minutes in a quite a few games, which is brutal. So it's hard to blame a guy for having negative-looking body language.
    My guess is he would fit in fine with the guys the Blazers have, and the team's culture would rub off on him. I wouldn't have wanted to stick him on that horrible 61-loss team I covered, but that would've been true for anybody.
   The one thing about Bayless is, he is a big-time scorer who put up points in bunches, and I can see him becoming one of those "microwave" guys off the bench. At No. 11 (ignoring the whole trade aspect), he should be a steal, and I would have taken him ahead of Russell Westbrook, who went No. 4 to Seattle, and I would have thought long and hard if a choice came down to him or O.J. Mayo.

Mr. Tokito's comments seem to echo what a number of you said in the comments earlier: 1) UA, without Lute Olsen, was a tough situation for a player of Bayless's calibre and 2) Bayless is sickly talented.

So, for those of you that had concerns: Do these thoughts help you sleep easier tonight?  Or is the jury still out?

-- Ben (benjamin.golliver@gmail.com)

PS Many thanks to Mr. Tokito for the thoughtful response!