Portland Trail Blazers

Nate McMillan's Stroke Of Genius: The Four Guard Lineup?

CHICAGO - JANUARY 12: Head coach Nate McMillan of the Portland Trail Blazers listens to his assistant coaches during a game against the Chicago Bulls on January 12, 2009 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. The Trail Blazers defeated the Bulls 109-95. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agreees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Brian D.Contributor INovember 14, 2009

As of this writing, the Portland Trailblazers are 4-0 since switching to their new four-guard starting lineup.

Wait, you ask.  Four guard lineup?

That's right.  With Greg Oden starting, Portland now has four players who can handle the ball and run the break.  If you don't believe me, check out this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPYmOZs0Vv0

In all seriousness, though, by moving Brandon Roy to the small forward and starting a back court of Andre Miller and Steve Blake, Nate McMillan solved his point guard dilemma with one stroke of genius.

Before the move, some fans and writers were calling for the Blazers to start Andre Miller.  After all, Miller is a better player than Blake.  He makes Greg Oden better.  He runs the break better.  He runs an offense better, period.

However, others have (rightfully) written that Blake is the better complement to Brandon Roy.  Blake is, in some ways, like Steve Kerr and John Paxson were to Michael Jordan.  He hits open shots, makes the occasional play and stays out of Brandon's way.  Plus, a lot of Blazer fans love Steve Blake, while Miller has yet to really endear himself to Portland.

McMillan was able to solve the problem in a way that makes partisans on both sides happy. 

The result has been better ball movement, fewer turnovers, more running, and an undefeated record.  It also opens up the Blazers rotation so that Travis Outlaw, Rudy Fernandez, Joel Przybilla, Martell Webster, and Jerryd Bayless all get minutes.

Of course, both Roy and Webster have each had to sacrifice part of their game for this to work.  But they are probably the two players on this team who are most willing and able to adjust their games for the good of the team. 

And, of course, there will be nights when Brandon runs into a small forward he just can't handle, such as LeBron James.  But nobody handles LeBron James, so that doesn't matter.  

What does matter is this: Right now, in spite of all the naysayers, Portland seems to be clicking on all cylinders, and McMillan's chemistry experiment just might be working. 

 

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