On April 23, 2011, Brandon Roy put on the performance of a lifetime.
With his Portland Trail Blazers falling behind 67-44 and the cartilage in his knees virtually non-existent, Roy put the team on his back and made history. The former Washington Huskies star scored 18 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, including the game-deciding bank shot that has made Roy a young legend in the eyes of Trail Blazers fans worldwide.
Just under six months later, Brandon Roy shocked the world once again. Unfortunately, this shock was of a negative nature. Brandon Roy retired at just 27 years old.
Apparently, Roy enjoys these half-year periods of shocking decisions. Roughly eight months after he walked away from the game, Brandon Roy reached a verbal agreement with the Minnesota Timberwolves to officially begin his return to the NBA.
So where's the next stop on the wildest ride of the century? If the Timberwolves have it their way, it will be a return to All-Star form. The question is, can Minnesota hold that realistic expectation?
In all likelihood, Roy's first year back will be similar to his 2011 stat line. An average of 12-to-16 points per game is realistic for a player who will be overcoming two major deficiencies: A history of severe knee injuries and a full season away from the game.
Nevertheless, that average will come with its outliers. In 2011, Roy proved that he's more than capable of outings with 20-plus points, which would certainly be welcomed by a weak Timberwolves perimeter. Just understand that the scoring will start low, increase over time and find a bit of consistency around the 50-game mark.
Once again, don't let yourself get carried away by the hype and expect Roy to put up 24 points per contest.
Beyond the statistics, however, is a player whose mere abilities will be called into question. When Roy goes up for his jump shot, what kind of rise will he have beneath him? When he attempts to penetrate off the dribble, what kind of lateral quickness will he display? Once he enters the paint, what type of explosiveness will we see as he moves to the basket?
Most importantly, how will Roy fare against the elite athletes that now occupy almost every NBA backcourt? On weak knees, he may not be able to.
A concern the Timberwolves seem prepared to address.
Sources: TWolves are the heretofore unnamed dark-horse team in the Ray Allen Sweepstakes. Dark, though, as in jet-black.— Ric Bucher (@RicBucher) July 6, 2012
So what can we expect from Brandon Roy? In all likelihood, the efficiently filled role of Sixth Man and the presence of a clutch player whose mere presence can take the pressure off of Kevin Love. If that's not enough to placate the Twin Cities faithful, it's time to temper expectations.
It's hard to stand tall on fragile knees.