A couple of point guards vie for entry into the semi-finals of the Scrubdown today.
The Blazers drafted Darnell Valentine with the 16th pick of the first round of the 1981 draft. The Kansas guard seemed ideally suited for a Jack Ramsay system. He was smart, genuine, and most importantly a physical fitness nut...a characteristic he shared with his coach. He shot well, passed well, and could defend. Only three things slowed him down. The first was injuries. The second was playing behind Fat Lever. The third was playing alongside Jim Paxson. This is not to impugn Paxson or Valentine. Jim was a smart player and an easy guy to play with just as Darnell was. Neither had a problem moving the ball. Both were talented. Despite the stats and the multi-purpose games, neither guy was what you'd call explosive. Together they were like a double scoop of really, really good vanilla ice cream. No matter how tasty it is, you want some crunch or zing somewhere. Moving Paxson would have been unthinkable, as he was an All-Star player. At the time Valentine looked expendable. Reported friction between him and Ramsay might have hastened his departure. When all was said and done he had given the Blazers 4.5 seasons, double-digit scoring, and a good assist total. Plus he brought the draft pick that became Arvydas Sabonis back in trade.
Sergio Rodriguez was the 27th pick of the first round of the 2006 NBA Draft, selected by the Phoenix Suns and traded immediately to the Trail Blazers. Unlike Valentine he saw neither steady minutes nor steady production during his Portland tenure. He did treat Blazer fans to a wide array of spectacular passing, with ball-handling wizardry faintly reminiscent of a Pete Maravich or Jason Williams. Rodriguez wasn't sound or well-rounded in his game as was Valentine but he was one of those rare players who could disrupt a game without scoring. He tallied amazing assist percentages and assist-per-minute numbers in his rookie season and remained strong in those categories throughout his three years in the Rose City. Though his lack of a three-point shot and defense made him unsuitable for Portland's need at his position, he left enough of an impression that every Blazer fan who watched him has at least one Sergio highlight etched indelibly in their brain.
So who will it be, Valentine or Rodriguez? Vote below.