Quick...what do you want from a second-year player? Unless that player is so good that you expect instant dominance or so bad that you'll take literally anything they throw out there the answer is simple: improvement. In the second year you're still not expecting a guy to eliminate, or even compensate for, all of his weaknesses. You want to see if he can play to his strengths while doing enough basic things to stay on the floor. By those standards Jerryd Bayless had a very good year.
Bayless increased production across the board in 2009-10. He did better in raw numbers. He did better in per-minute stats. Exactly one (1!) category dropped. He went from 0.9 steals per 36 minutes to 0.7 and from 1.4 to 1.1 steals per 100 possessions. Literally everything else was on the rise.
Bayless doubled his total minutes played this year. His field goal makes nearly tripled. Some of his biggest increases came in field goal percentage:
- 41.4% overall shooting, an increase of 3.9 percentage points
- 31.5% three-point shooting, an increase of 5.6 percentage points
- 83.1% free throw shooting, an increase of 2.5 percentage points
- 53.4% True Shooting percantage, an increase of 4.7 percentage points
- 44.4% Effective Field Goal percentage, an increase of 6.0 percentage points
Jerryd nearly doubled his scoring average, notching 8.5 ppg compared to 4.3 a season ago off of less than a 50% increase in per-game minutes. His per-36 minute scoring rate went from 12.5 to 17.4 points. Naturally his general offensive stats rose as well. His points scored per 100 possessions skyrocketed from 97 to 108. His PER jumped from 8.2 to 14.3. All of this speaks to a guy who is more comfortable in the offense and probably in his own skin as well. As important as any of these numbers, Bayless' PPBP and CPBP (that would be Pouts Per Bad Play and Curses Per Bad Play) went down dramatically this year. For much of the season he looked like he was just ballin' (instead of just bawlin'?), which is exactly what you want to see from a guy trying to make an impact.
Offensive impact is Jerryd's calling card. What about those other areas that allow him to stay on the floor?
Bayless is expected to act as a part-time point guard. His assists rose at roughly the same rate as his minutes. His per-36 minute assist rate was .4 higher, his assist percentage 3.9% higher. His turnovers dropped in absolute terms, in per-minute rate, and most significanly in turnovers per 100 possessions, the latter dropping from 19.3 to 13.8.
Jerryd's rebounding production rose slightly. His defensive stats remained level, one of the disappointments of his year given his physical potential and the fact that his defense hasn't been that effective to begin with. By comparison his 110 points allowed per 100 possessions was 3 points worse than that of Rudy Fernandez this year.
Bayless' other disappointments all fall into team categories, one of the larger question marks surrounding his game in general. His +.04 plus-minus was anemic and his .002 per-minute plus-minus was the lowest of any rotation player outside of Juwan Howard. His PER advantage over his counterparts at both point and shooting guard was miniscule. At point he gave away far more assists than he contributed and committed far more turnovers than his opponent. At shooting guard his Effective Field Goal percentage was incredibly low while his opponent's was high. He drew a large number of free throws regardless of position but also committed a large number of fouls, one of the most disturbing aspects of his defensive (non-)progress.
There's more bad news on the team front. Portland's points per 100 possessions dropped by 2 when Jerryd was on the floor and their points allowed rose 3.2 for a large -5.2 points-per-100 total impact on the game. The Blazers scored better as a team when Jerryd sat than when he played. Their Effective Field Goal percentage and Assisted Field Goal percentage both fell when Jerryd played.
On the other hand Bayless' numbers improved mightily in the clutch this year, as well as in the playoffs. He flashes a hard-nosed, take-no-prisoners style that none of his young-ish teammates can duplicate. When the time was right and his opponents weren't prepared he single-handedly bowled them over. Those times are balanced by his drives straight down the lane waited upon and easily rejected. Bayless was not reliable game-to-game. He did improve his impact to the point where you were excited to see him get his chance...a stark contrast to his rookie year when his effectiveness was non-existent.
Bayless showed he is a legit player this season. His strengths and overall improvement merit notice. Even with that his game still has plenty of holes--areas where improvement made him average instead of awful--and he still has plenty of steps to make before reaching full fruition. After a doubtful rookie campaign he showed clear signs that he can, and probably will, reach that fruition. Like his position, his ultimate ceiling remains in question. But for a second-year guy showing glimpses of that future plus confidence that it's real is plenty good.
Season Performance: B+
Biggest Question Marks: Position, impact on the team
Future with the Team: Positive. But that doesn't mean he's immune to trade. In fact if he's not the Blazers' future solution at point guard and he holds value to other teams he may be one of the more actively-discussed players in the next year.