Monday, July 7, 2008

On guard

Hopefully we'll have some new players to talk about this week, but until everything is finalized with the NBA, mum is the word. It's not an ideal situation, but such is life working within the constructs of the NBA's Collective Bargaining Agreement. And trust me, we'll have plenty of time during the offseason to discuss any new players who may or may not suit up for the Blazers in '08-'09.

One of those players who we're waiting on is probably a guard, and the Blazers probably had to give up a guard to get him. One in, one out.

But what about the guards, specifically point guards, that the Blazers already have? If you look at the roster, Steve Blake is the only "true" point guard who has seen any meaningful minutes in the NBA. Is he the starter, even with other heralded guards possibly joining the team? I think the answer to that question is a resounding "yes."

Oddly enough, Chris Duhon got me thinking about Steve Blake. Or to be more specific, the Knicks reportedly acquiring Duhon got me thinking about the Knicks reportedly attempting to acquire Blake.
But is Duhon enough? Does he make you better? Maybe you can argue that he makes you better because of the addition-by-subtraction rule. Marbury is a perpetual ticking timebomb. No matter how many times you want to believe he means it this time, at this point even his own teammates don't believe it. Stephon says all the right things at the start but he's always a mine buried in the locker room just waiting to be triggered. One false step and kaboom.

The players are tired of it. Several of them told me Marbury is mostly a loner in that room at this point. No one takes him seriously, but the distractions he can cause -- and perpetuate with his comments and actions -- are an annoyance.

So if a trade to acquire Steve Blake isn't something Portland is willing to do (I'm told they weren't) and Monta Ellis isn't something Golden State is willing to do (ditto) and just about any other potentially available PG either doesn't quite fit style-wise (Kyle Lowry) or doesn't fit financially (Baron Davis, pre-Clippers), then Duhon might have been the best option that still fit the Bigger Plan.
What I find interesting is the questions New York folks, in this case Alan Hanh of Newsday, have of Duhon are the same many in Portland have of Blake. Can he be the starting point guard for a playoff team? A championship team? Maybe, maybe not, but if the Knicks did ask about Blake and were rebuffed, then one would have to figure those in the Blazers front office value Blake-as-NBA-starter enough to turn down legit offers (and if the Knicks really did offer Duhon the MLE, then you have to figure they were willing to give up something decent).

I guess what I'm getting at is this: Steve Blake isn't going to give up his starting point guard duties simply because there may be a new ball handler in town.


Colin said...

Hmmm, so if that is true then who is the starting point guard off the bench? Sergio? Bayless supposedly is less of a facilitator and more of a scorer - so if it were him starting in the second unit there probably wouldn't be many assists.

I had pictured Bayless taking the scoring point role next to Roy (as the ball handler) and Blake moving to the ball handling role with Rudy as the scoring threat for the second unit.

I'm no GM, obviously... I guess the thinking could be that Bayless will not be NBA ready and will be the third string point guard.

In KP I trust.

Rudy said...

Casey-I heard you speaking of this in your Podcast and my thought is that Brandon and Rudy will play together quite a bit-meaning Brandon will play PG a significant amount. I think BRoy should also be considered somewhat of an established PG as he played that position most of the 4th quarter in many games last year while Jarrett played 2.

At times when Brandon or Steve Blake are not at PG-Sergio is not a bad option as this will be his 3rd year and Bayless obviously can and will play there some as well. No veteran, but if the Blazers want to give plenty of time at 3 to Travis and Martell-Rudy's minutes will need to come at the 2 with Brandon at the PG.

Dickau is a guy that comes to mind who might be good insurance as that 15th player-but that's a LOT of PG's then.

chrisinhawaii said...

blakes only role in the NBA is as a backup. he is a nice guy just not a great basketball player. if bayless is anywhere near as good as everyone has been saying then blake is going to get killed in practice. blake will get the first tatse of all that anger bayless has about slipping in the draft. good luck blake!

Nick said...

I'm no NBA expert or scout, but if Bayless ends up behind Sergio on the depth chart then KP drafted the wrong guy and Jerryd is a bust.

Bayless may not be the "pure point" that Sergio is, but based on what I've seen of his college game, he still knows how to create his own shot, is a fantastic finisher, a good ball-handler, and under-rated passer, as well as being a pretty good man defender. Sergio (so far) does one thing well and one thing only and that's pass the ball.

I foresee Blake being the team's starter for at least the first half of the season, maybe longer, but Bayless should be nipping at his heels from day one with his dogged work ethic and high basketball IQ.

old97s said...

nice way of mentioning without mentioning. can you comment on bayless' college career, or his ablilities to play for the team that actually drafted him? if so, was his role as a scorer in college because he was needed to play that role or because that is his style? do you think his drafting team saw him as a scoring off gaurd or a team leading point?

DocProc said...

At least in the beginning of the season, I'm pretty sure BRoy is your backup 'point guard' (and starting 2 guard.) Bayless or Rudy will playing alongside of him when Blake is out. Perhaps throw in Sergio if Blake and Roy are on the bench at the same time. Once Bayless gets some confidence at the point, I don't see Sergio playing at all.

allyn said...

I like our guards but what about solid role players like a scrapper (David Lee) or a proven clutch guy (someone like Robert Horry). It seems like something's got to give in the guard rotation and our bigs are great but where will the floor burns come from?

Casey Holdahl said...

collin: I think there will be a battle for second-string point guard (Brandon Roy notwithstanding). I think the advantage probably goes to Bayless considering he can score with Roy off the floor. Then again, maybe Sergio comes into camp and forces the issue. Point guard will be the position to watch this season.

rudy: I think you will see Roy and Fernandez together quite a bit, but I think it will be in a three guard set. May Roy handles, maybe it's Blake or Bayless. I think he can handle it on offense, but someone else probably needs to take over defensive duties on opposing point guards. As for Dickau, no thanks. if we're going to add a PG to the end of the bench, it might as well be Koponen.

chrisinhawaii: I think you described the best case scenario (no offense to Blake, but that's what it is). What I'll say though is that people have been saying Blake isn't a starting PG throughout his pro career, but everywhere he goes, he ends up starting.

nick: There's going to be an adjustment period for anyone, especially a player who has just one year of college experience. Say what you will about Sergio, but he's been in the league for two years and has played professionally in Spain before that. I don't think it would be an indictment of Bayless' potential if Sergio won secondary PG duties, at least initially.

old97s: I think they made the moves they did because Bayless was the best player attainable. If KP or Nate could choose, I think they'd prefer him to be more of a distributor and less of a scorer, but you have to play to your strengths. I think Bayless being the starting PG is the longterm goal, and playing alongside Brandon Roy makes thats more of a likelihood.

docproc: I think you've got it just about right, but Roy's going to have to get a breather here and there.

allyn: I think just about every player currently on the roster could be that "hustle guy." Guys like Lee and Horry are great, but often the price of getting a higher profile role player isn't worth what they're going to give you.

Steven Otis said...

I'm baffled by those who insist that Blake is not a worthy starting PG in the league. History is full of examples of PGs who got it done on top caliber teams without being a primary scoring option. When called upon to score, Blake can also really knock down his shot. He had a slump for a while last year, and he's never going to be someone who creates his own shot, but he is a solid 3 point shooter, smart ball-handler, and, though most overlook it, he pushes the tempo and distributes well on the break. He's also a better defender than he is given credit for. People (including the Blazers broadcast team) thought Blake wouldn't even make the Blazer roster in '05-06, then he became the starter. Then people thought he'd ride the bench behind Jack and possibly Sergio last year, and, again, he became the starter. And did you see him run the floor with Denver in '06-07? Did a solid job on an uptempo, star-heavy squad. Blake is consistently underrated, in my opinion. There's a reason KP brought him back and Nate trusts him. My message to Blake is grow back the beard and prove your doubters wrong.

Casey Holdahl said...

You're right on Steven. Denver would take Steve Blake back in a hot second if they had the opportunity. The Blazers brought him back the first chance they had. Mo Williams makes more than twice as much as Blake, averages double the points, but just over 1 more assist per game in more than 6 extra minutes.

So of the last three teams Blake has been on, two were better with him than without him.

Jonathan said...

Steve blake is legitimate, look at the A/T ratio, he can dish and he can knock down the open J. I remember a game where he dropped like 19 in a quarter mostly on pull-up treys. That might be a little off but the guy is nails, he doesn't make dumb mistakes and like Steven (matinee) Otis said he doesn't get near the credit he deserves. The guy is a winner. He never quits. He is a guy that should be a blazer a long-time regardless of his role ie. starter or bench.

CosmoPlavix said...

Anyone who wants to be a starting point guard has to learn to put his personal moves to use in the service of other guys who will score more than he does. Learning the offense and running it as flawlessly as possible, making accurate passes at the right time, fooling the defense so that someone on offense gets open: these are the skills that make up the job description. Blake is a high-skill journeyman at this job, and expecting point guard skill from a rookie would be wrong for the guy and the team. So look for Blake to run the team, set an example, teach the new guys, and improve his own game this year. Look for the new guards to show explosive brilliance mixed in with bone-headed mistakes.

chrisinhawaii said...

sorry guys.. blake is not bad and thats how he will always be not bad. its not a great compliment to be the starting point guard on a team thats worst position IS point guard. steves career as a starter has always been by default. he starts not because he is good. he starts because theres no one else. remember when Qyntel woods was the starting point guard on this team. that was also by default. blake is a nice guy and will make a nice journy man in the NBA.

Anonymous said...

Blake is not a 2nd stringer. Bayless is wack send him back, i got my vote for Steve Blake sorry guys hes the man. look at what there record could have been a lot worse. he puts the ball in there hands and yea broy is good but is he that good? think about it!