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Portland Trail Blazers: Are They More Fun To Watch Without Brandon Roy?

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Portland Trail Blazers: Are They More Fun To Watch Without Brandon Roy?
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

There is an oft-cited belief among Blazer fans that, for many, has become an article of faith. It is repeated often and loudly.
The Blazers are more fun to watch without Brandon Roy.
This is typically followed by a recitation about how they have better movement, more fast breaks, share the ball more and thus are more entertaining.
It is stated as a basic, unalterable, indisputable truth.
The Blazers are more fun to watch without Brandon Roy.
It is so ingrained in the psyche of many Blazer fans that on a local radio show, legendary broadcaster Bill Schonely attested to the truth of the statement, making it himself almost verbatim.
The Blazers are more fun to watch without Brandon Roy.
Seemingly everyone has bought into that statement.

Well...everyone but me, that is.
I see basketball differently than the guy next to me. I understand that, accept that and even embrace that truth. At the same time, it is an open question how anyone enjoys the game. There are probably as many ways to enjoy watching basketball as there are fans, and that is a good thing.
Some people enjoy watching post players bang. Others like watching a transition-heavy game. Others appreciate the beauty of a jump shot while still others get very engaged in checking out defensive rotations, shot blocks, steals or other defensive endeavors. Still others enjoy a well-run pick and roll or pick and pop.
Some fans follow individual teams for the entire run of their fandom. Others follow specific players. Still others follow whichever team or teams are playing the best in any given year.
There are even some people, such as Basketbawful, who take a certain perverse and highly entertaining joy in watching the incompetent side of basketball.
All of these are valid ways to enjoy the game.
Arguably, those who prefer watching the Blazers play without Roy to watching them play with Roy have a surprising amount in common with the writer of Basketbawful.
As of January, the Blazers ranked fifth in shooting. That is...fifth from being the WORST shooting team in the entire NBA.
They are 25th in shooting percentage. 25th in three-point shooting percentage. They make up for it by letting the opponent out shoot them, being just over half a rebound per game better, and having the third fewest possessions per game of any team in the league. (Admittedly these are not sorted pre and post Roy. They were low in most categories before he shut it down and have not markedly raised them.)
In fairness to one defense against the rather twist able "pace" ranking, they do have several long possessions due to garnering numerous offensive rebounds. Rebounds, I might add, that are available due to their pathetic shooting.
The Blazers, as constructed without Brandon Roy in the line-up, center around LaMarcus Aldridge on the block and a number of streak shooters.
When he gets hot Wesley Matthews has shown he is capable of making seven consecutive threes. When he is cold he will miss the same number. The same holds true for his mid-range shooting.
The same could be said of Patty Mills, Rudy Fernandez or Nicolas Batum. Andre Miller is traditionally not going to shoot a high percentage.
They have no mid-range or outside shooter who consistently shoots a decent percentage night in and night out where the 1-for-15 debacles are unusual rather than something you expect at least once every two or three games.
The Blazer shooting is so abysmal that Real GM posited they are in fact a lottery team as opposed to a playoff team.
With that said, watching an under talented team work extremely hard to defeat more talented teams can be very entertaining. There is certainly a satisfaction to be garnered in watching a team fight and scratch and claw to snatch a victory away from a team that deserved to win.
I would key in on the nearly insignificant article in that sentence, "a", when considering how much fun it is to watch the Blazers currently.
I personally find more satisfaction in watching a game where the players are able to put the ball in the basket relatively often. I find far more enjoyment in watching a game where both teams show enough offensive skills that a three possession string of baskets does not feel like an anomaly.
The current Blazer team does provide some pleasure to watch. They work hard, they have some excellent defensive stretches, some incredible streaks of shooting, and LaMarcus Aldridge is changing his game in front of our eyes.
This season, they even have managed a better record without Roy than with to the tune of 14-8 without Roy and only 11-13 with the shell of Roy we saw on the floor this year.
Overall, however, their record without Roy is much worse. Even the majority of those saying the Blazers are more fun to watch without Roy acknowledge the team will never escape the first round without him.
Thus, in the current construction of the team we see a poor-shooting, mediocre team that consistently has long scoring droughts.
The argument then becomes that this team, which shoots over two percent worse than last season, scores nearly three fewer points, and wins fewer games than they did last season with Roy in the line-up and healthy is more fun to watch without Brandon Roy.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I just do not buy it.
Personally, I would much rather watch an talented player who scores efficiently, has averaged 4.9 assists per game for his career, and leads his teams to wins than watch a team that is out-talented more often than not.
It does not mean I find other people wrong when they say "The Blazers are more fun to watch without Brandon Roy". They are more than entitled to enjoy the game their way.
But it does mean that I struggle to understand it. This edition of the team, sans Roy, has all the hallmarks of a mediocre team playing mediocre basketball, unlike the team that had a real shot to advance to the second round two years ago with a healthy Roy.
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