I had the unenviable position of sitting at work today and watching Twitter explode over the remarks Brandon Roy made yesterday post practice about his desire to get the ball more. Not just get the ball more, but a lot more. I had to watch as every commentator remotely affiliated with the Blazers weighed in on the “implications” of Roy’s statement. One of the nice things about being very late to the party this afternoon is that I’ve had a chance to read most of what’s been said, and formulate an opinion on the situation that I will now share.
I would like to lead off by saying that this type of story is an unfortunate byproduct of the 24 hour everywhere at once news cycle, the fact that its preseason, and the fact that so far the Blazers have looked uninspired at their best moments. Brandon Roy isn’t the kind of player to stir-up trouble just for the sake of it, and this isn’t really an issue of chemistry either between Roy and Andre Miller or any other member of the Blazers. This is an issue about Brandon Roy coming out and saying that he is the leader of this team, and that he wants to be in the driver’s seat. Of course everybody that has commented on this situation has said basically the same thing.
My personal take on the situation is this: Brandon wants the ball, and Brandon should get the ball. He is the Blazer’s most potent offensive weapon, and without him leading the way Portland will not make it out of the first round of the playoffs. Saying that Brandon is the leader of the Blazers is not a knock on any of the talented players that fill the Blazer’s roster. Portland is deep and talented but without their leader they are a middle of the pack team, at best. Brandon has talked about leading by example, and that is what he is doing.
I would be shocked and worried about the fate of the 2010-11 season if anyone besides Brandon Roy said they wanted to see “a lot” more of the ball. That would be an indication that they hadn’t bought into the system being run by Coach McMillan. Imagine if Jerryd Bayless told the media that this season he wanted a lot more of the ball, and that he needed to be the center of attention on offense. That would probably be cause to sound the alarm. With Brandon standing up and saying, in no uncertain terms, that this is his team, sends the message to his teammates that he is ready to lead the Blazers deep into the playoffs. I don’t understand what it is about that that makes people in Rip City think that everything is in turmoil.
Here’s a recap of what people have been saying about what B-Roy said:
The Oregonian dropped a trifecta of Bradon Roy related articles, starting with this piece by Jason Quick that greased the wheels for what was to come by implying that Brandon’s wanting the ball more was going to drive a wedge between him and Andre Miller. John Canzano weighed in on the issue as did Mike Tokito.
Ben Golliver offered an in-depth look at the situation, complete with a look at usage stats. A recap of those stats for none ESPN Insiders: Brandon Roy was ranked 16th in usage last season and 11th in 2008-09 when Portland won 54 games and Brandon displayed a range of offensive weapons. Roy ranks behind only the likes of Dwayne Wade and Kobe Bryant at his position as far as usage is concerned.
I think its safe to say that this issue will be resolved when the real season begins, and we get a chance to see what kind of chemistry Portland has when playing games that actually matter. One of the reasons Portland has looked so stagnant in its preseason losses is that fact that they haven’t been running any plays on offense, as Brandon explains in the course of making his preseason defining statement. I’m pretty sure that once the regular season starts, Portland is likely to run some actual plays. We’ll all see at that point what it means for Portland to have Brandon getting “a lot” of the ball.