They are each cornerstones of their respective Pacific Northwest franchises. Brandon Roy was the 2006-07 NBA Rookie of the Year for the Portland Trail Blazers; the Seattle SuperSonics' Kevin Durant will probably claim the honor this season. They are both fine talents just beginning their professional careers, but who would you rather have?
Pro: In his second season, Roy, 23, is already one of the best all-around players in the league. He has point-guard skills, is an elite defender and is the leader of a young team that has exceeded expectations. While he isn't a jaw-dropping athlete, Roy's balance and near-perfect footwork make him difficult to stop, and he is good at just about every facet of the game, averaging 19.3 points, 5.8 assists and 4.9 rebounds.
Con: Roy, 6-6, 229 pounds, missed 25 games his rookie season because of a heel injury and has missed seven games this season with a severely sprained ankle, so he hasn't proven to be the most durable player. Because he is such a well-rounded player, there isn't one specific skill in which he is better than anyone else. Can he get better, or has he maxed out as a player?
Pro: Durant, 19, is a tantalizing talent with a power forward's height, a shooting guard's skills and a center's wingspan. The 6-9, 215-pounder is a fearless shooter who is learning the NBA game on the fly, but still managing to average 19.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists. At this point in his career, Durant isn't close to being a finished product, and that may be his best quality.
Con: The flip side off all that potential? Durant has a lot to learn and a long way to go. He needs to get stronger, work on his passing and floor game, and improve his ball-handling. Heck, he needs to prove he has an actual position. And can his narrow frame take on more weight? Tough to say. But at this point no one can predict if he's going to be closer to Kevin Garnett or Glenn Robinson.
The verdict: We'll take Roy. Despite not being a big man or being blessed with special athleticism, he has the intangibles that can't be taught or developed. He is a winner who understands pace, flow and spacing. He is the player every coach wants, even if most GMs don't realize it. How else do you explain Adam Morrison and Shelden Williams being selected before him in the 2006 NBA Draft.
An interesting debate, though I'm not sure which player it says more about. Is Brandon Roy so good that he wouldn't be traded for a player considered one of the most can't miss prospects in the last 10 years? Is Durant now considered that bad?
It's a tough question to answer. Would you trade Roy for Durant? In the end, I think I would stick with Brandon Roy as well, though I'm obviously biased.