I expect every team in the league is wondering how they missed Wesley Matthews of Marquette in the 2009 NBA Draft. That is, with the exception of the Utah Jazz, who found a diamond in the rough when they signed the un-drafted rookie who would become their starting shooting guard for the 2010 season.
Matthews finished his rookie season with the Jazz averaging an impressive 9.4 points in around 24 minutes per game, and proved himself to be a lockdown defender and versatile scorer. Despite looking like the biggest steal of the draft (oh wait, he wasn't even drafted), critics were shocked when the Blazers signed Matthews to a five-year, $34 million deal during the offseason. Surely an un-drafted, 24 year old player going into his second season couldn't be worth that much money?
But Matthews has shown that he is worth every penny.
Since becoming a starter, Matthews has averaged 21.1 points per game and shot blistering percentages from the field. Matthews has regained confidence in his shot and is hitting jumpers from all over the floor. Matthews' defense has been just as impressive as his offense. He is averaging over 1.5 steals per game in his nine games as a starter and has been given the role of not only go-to scorer but also lock down defender.
In Thursday's matchup against the Orlando Magic, Matthews led the Blazers to an impressive victory, scoring 20 points while limiting his matchup, Vince Carter, to just six points on 2-of-12 shooting.
With Roy's injury, Matthews has become the Blazers go-to player and has embraced his role as Portland's new star. If Matthews continues to play like he has thus far in the season, he will easily break into the ranks of the league's top 10 shooting guards.
If Roy can succeed in coping with his injury and return to his previous level of play, Portland will have one of the best wing combos in the league. But until then, the Blazers will continue to lean on their most important player, Wesley Matthews.