What could have the Portland Trail Blazers had with Brandon Roy?

PORTLAND, OR - APRIL 23: Brandon Roy
PORTLAND, OR - APRIL 23: Brandon Roy /

Imagining the Portland Trail Blazers future if Brandon Roy stayed healthy?

Before the brilliance of Damian Lillard, the Portland Trail Blazers had another superstar guard on their roster who was considered among the league’s elite. Brandon Roy, a relatively local shooting guard from the University of Washington who was selected with the 6th overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, previously held that mantle.

Originally selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves but flipped to Portland in exchange for Randy Foye, Roy ended up forming a high potential duo with draft classmate LaMarcus Aldridge.

Right out of the gate, it was clear that Roy was a special player, averaging 16.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game en route to winning the Rookie of the Year award (like Lillard).

From there, he only improved, making an All-Star team each of the next three years and helping lead the Blazers to the playoffs for two of those seasons.

However, it was during that time when the early signs of injury issues began to pop up. It started with a meniscus tear in April of 2010, and continued into the 2010-11 season, where it became clear that the ailments were chronic. As quickly as Roy started his ascent, he faded just as suddenly, retiring in the fall of 2011.

So many fans wonder what could have been of Roy if he had good knees. Kobe Bryant once referenced Roy as the toughest player to guard in the entire Western Conference.

Former Washington teammate and fellow Seattle teammate Nate Robinson gave his answer recently, on the eve of Roy’s 35th birthday.

"“He is one of the coldest players I’ve seen play the game of basketball because he was doing all the things that you saw him do without no knee caps. I mean he had no knees. If he had healthy knees, he would be talked about like a LeBron James. We would not just be talking about LeBron James they would be talking about Brandon Roy as well.”"

While the comparison might be an exaggeration, it shows how highly regarded Roy was in the NBA community. It wasn’t just Robinson and Bryant. Players such as Jamal Crawford, Avery Bradley, and Doug Christie also gave similar praises, stating that he was one of the most complete players that they had ever seen.

If he were still healthy, he would likely be chugging along All-Star and All-NBA appearances alike. With the deadliness that he, Aldridge, even Greg Oden if he stayed healthy (that’s another story) showed together, there is no question that Portland would have had some opportunities to contend for an NBA championship.

With his birthday being today, it is nice to reminisce of all the great things that Roy brought to the city. He, along with Aldridge and others, brought Portland out of the drudges of the Jail Blazers era, and put the Blazers on the map again as a relevant NBA team.

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Happy Birthday to The Natural.