Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Sad Story of Brandon Roy

Once on of the brightest young stars in the NBA, Brandon Roy's engine is currently riding on the lowest gear. After a meniscus tear in his left knee left him hobbled in April of last year, Roy opted for surgery in order to help the blazers "if they advanced in the playoffs," his own words. Roy's surgical procedure came on April 15, just three days before the 2010 playoffs began. With the Blazers down 2 games to 1 in the opening round of the playoffs to Phoenix, Roy pushed coach Nate McMillan and then-GM Kevin Pritchard for a return in game 4 on April 24, a mere 9 days after his surgery. The coach and GM obliged. Roy played 26, 19, and 37 minutes respectively over the final three games of the Blazers season as they bowed-out to the Suns 4 - 2.

Any competitive player in the league would have asked to play those games if he even felt 60% ready to go. Brandon Roy is a competitor. As inefficient as he was (check out his lines) the Blazers management felt he would give them the best chance to win. But at what cost? With a little more than a 1/4 of the season finished in the NBA, Roy has looked like a sliver of the player he once was.

His stats are worse now than they were his rookie year. The 5th year veteran is shooting a career worst 39.8% from the field and only grabbing 3 rebounds/game compared to the 4.6 he's averaged the past 3 seasons. His first step is completely gone as he's been unable to create the open looks for himself he once used to thrive on. And he's been unable to defend quicker 2-guards.

Is it fair to place the blame solely on the management for Roy's decline in production? Probably not. Yet, it's very fair to say that McMillan and Pritchard should have told Roy to stay in street clothes last spring after his surgery.

There's a scary similar case to this involving Tim Duncan. Duncan injured his knee on April 11 of the 1999-2000 season (his 3rd year; remember, Roy was in his 4th) and sat out the remainder of the season. The Spurs were coming off a championship the year before and could have competed for a repeat with a healthy Duncan. Yet, Gregg Popovich and GM R.C. Buford thought of the future of their franchise and sat Duncan in the playoffs (a first round exit to, wouldn't you know it, the Suns). The rest is history as Duncan led the Spurs to three more championships and solidified himself as the best Power Forward of all time.

Again, in no way am I saying that Blazers management is solely to blame here. Roy has had a history of bad knees since playing at Washington University. Yet, with this knowledge and the type of all-around player Brandon Roy was evolving into, was it worth playing him 9 days after knee surgery in a year where the Blazers were coming no where close to a Finals appearance? Absolutely not.

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