5 Realistic Expectations for Brandon Roy's Comeback with Minnesota Timberwolves
Or, rather, Brandon Roy will be once the 2012-13 NBA season gets underway. The three-time All-Star signed a two-year deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves this summer, officially signaling the end of his brief retirement.
One into which he may or may not have been forced by the Portland Trail Blazers for PR purposes.
Conspiracy theories aside, it'll be a joy to have Roy back in the league, assuming his troublesome knees have recovered sufficiently. He was one of the league's brightest stars just two years ago, a 20-point per game scorer who was just entering his prime and appeared well-equipped to challenge Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade's supremacy at shooting guard.
Nobody should expect Roy to do as much during his comeback, even as the careers of Kobe and D-Wade begin to wane. As good as Roy may feel right now, there's no telling how his body will hold up amidst the grind of the NBA between traveling, practicing and playing in games.
That being said, the T-Wolves can anticipate Roy hitting these five marks that, barring a catastrophic turn of events, should be well within his reach.
He'll Start at Shooting Guard
This may seem bold, especially after all that talk about tempering expectations and whatnot. But after one look at the T-Wolves' current roster, it almost seems necessary.
At present, Minnesota's stock of shooting guards consists of Roy, Malcolm Lee and Alexey Shved. Lee spent much of last season shuttling between the T-Wolves and the D-League after coming out of UCLA as a second-round pick in the 2011 draft. Shved, by all accounts, is a terrific player who performed well at the 2012 London Olympics and whose style of play has led some to refer to him as the "Russian Ricky Rubio".
But he's coming from a completely different situation overseas, leading even team owner Glen Taylor to suggest that Shved won't be ready to contribute right away.
What's more, JJ Barea and Luke Ridnour won't have as much leeway to play off the ball, at least until Ricky Rubio returns from a torn ACL.
All of which leaves Brandon Roy as the only "viable" option at shooting guard from the get-go, even if throwing him into such a demanding role so soon might not be particularly prudent.
He'll Play at Least 20 Minutes Per Game
Whether he's starting or not, Brandon Roy should expect see no fewer than 20 minutes of playing time per game during his comeback.
Again, this has plenty to do with the T-Wolves' dearth of talent at shooting guard, since they'll need someone to at least hold the fort on the wing after parting ways with a slew of disappointing youngsters (i.e. Martell Webster, Wayne Ellington and Wesley Johnson) this summer.
More importantly, it seems doubtful that Roy would've unretired and that Minny would've signed him if each didn't think he could stay on his feet for more than 20 minutes a night. Nobody's putting it past Wolves GM David Kahn to have overlooked important details here and there, but surely, even Roy knows better than to attempt a triumphant return before he's truly ready...
Unless, of course, he failed to heed the warnings from the cautionary tale of former Blazers teammate Greg Oden.
He'll Average Double-Figures in Scoring
If Brandon Roy could put up 18 points in a miraculous fourth quarter as a reserve against the Dallas Mavericks in 2011—when he hadn't had nearly as much time to rest his knee—then it's well within reason to anticipate he'll be able to average better than 10 points per game, assuming he gets at least 20 minutes of burn per outing.
Roy was a gifted scorer during his heyday with the Blazers, and though he may not have as much as speed, quickness and explosion as he once did, chances are he can still shoot. So long as Roy can still hit three-pointers at or near the 35-percent clip he has for his career, he should be able to contribute steadily in the scoring column.
He'll Be Featured in 60 Games or More, with Occasional Scratches
This is probably the toughest aspect of Roy's comeback to predict. Setting the bar at 60 games leaves 22 games worth of leeway for Roy to miss some time here and there if his knee starts acting up or if he should be struck by some spurious injury along the way.
It also accounts for Wolves head coach Rick Adelman potentially sitting Roy as a precautionary measure if he feels his player needs a rest, much as Gregg Popovich has been known to do with his stars on the San Antonio Spurs.
Frankly, 60 games might seem unrealistic to some, considering that B-Roy only saw action in 47 of 82 regular-season outings in 2010-11. But if time and modern medicine have been as kind to Roy's knee as we've been led to believe, then what, exactly, is to keep him from playing three-quarters of a season?
He'll Help the T-Wolves End Their Playoff Drought
However many games Brandon Roy winds up playing in, however many minutes he is on the floor and however many points he ends up scoring, he can count on being a part of an exciting team that will challenge for a spot in the Western Conference playoff picture.
Then again, Minny was in the hunt last season until Ricky Rubio went down with a bad knee, even though non-entities like Wesley Johnson, Martell Webster and Darko Milicic were still stuck in the rotation.
Those players have since been jettisoned, with the likes of Andrei Kirilenko and Chase Budinger added to a core of Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic and Derrick Williams.
And if Brandon Roy turns out to be something better than just a shell of his former self, then the odds of Minny making a playoff comeback will be that much more favorable.