Portland Trail Blazers: 5 Ways for Raymond Felton to Mesh With Brandon Roy
The big question when bringing in a new point guard is how will they blend in with the players already on the roster, and for Portland, one of the most important issues is whether Felton will click with Brandon Roy, the team's shooting guard and one of its franchise players.
Though Roy's role on the team going forward is a bit uncertain due to his knee injuries, he is still a major part of a Blazers team looking to become a Western Conference powerhouse and a true title contender.
The chemistry between a point guard and shooting guard is instrumental to a team's success, and Roy and Felton certainly have the potential to become a dynamic pairing. In honor of Felton's arrival, I've come up with a few ways that Felton and Roy can work together and help Portland next season (whenever that is)...
I also want to give credit to Allen Kim for helping me come up with the methods for Roy and Felton to mesh.
No. 1: Let Roy Be the Playmaker, Play Felton Off the Ball
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Brandon Roy is a solid passer, but there were moments last season when the ball would stop in Roy's hands and some of the other players would just look lost, especially Andre Miller.
Though Miller is an excellent playmaker he's not exactly an excellent outside shooter (to put it kindly), and he works best with the ball in his hands, which caused some issues on the court.
Raymond Felton, on the other hand, has demonstrated a sweet perimeter stroke for his entire career. He shot an unimpressive 32.8 percent in New York, but that was largely because he played in a Mike D'Antoni offense that relied heavily on outside shooting.
He took five threes a game, a ridiculous number in any system, but that was out of necessity. Once he was traded to the Nuggets and cut down on attempts, Felton's percentage skyrocketed to a stellar 45.9 percent.
During his time with the Denver Nuggets, George Karl would often play Felton alongside fellow point guard Ty Lawson, with Felton playing primarily off the ball.
Because of his perimeter shooting, Felton played surprisingly well as a 2-guard finding open spots, slashing to the hoop and even guarding the position despite his lack of size.
Next season, Roy's domination of the ball in the backcourt shouldn't be as much of an issue. Instead of taking the point guard out of the offense, Felton can cut to the basket or camp out on the three-point line, allowing Roy to go to work on the defense.
Though with a team of Roy, Felton, LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews, Gerald Wallace and rookie Nolan Smith all looking to score, there still may not be enough ball to go around.
No. 2: Spacing the Floor from the Perimeter
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I talked about it in the last slide, but Felton's outside shooting really is an asset to a Blazers team that was 21st in the league in three-point percentage.
Roy had a down year shooting wise (40 percent from the field, 33.3 percent from three), though that was likely due to his injury and adjustment to his role on the bench. Still, he's a solid option from deep and an excellent mid-range shooter.
With a dominant big man like LaMarcus Aldridge capable of scoring in the post and slashers like Gerald Wallace and Nicolas Batum who can cut to the basket, having outside shooters is a necessity in order to create lanes and draw defenders away from the hoop.
Many times last year, defenses would swarm Aldridge, daring the Blazers to beat them from the perimeter. The team's lack of perimeter shooting was a major issue in their first-round playoff loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
Having a backcourt where both players can hit shots from outside really opens up the floor and should fit into a Blazers offense that really emphasizes moving the ball and can allow them to implement a bit more of a corner offense.
With Roy and Felton, as well as Wallace, Batum and Matthews, the Blazers have the potential to go from one of the league's worst three-point shooting teams to one of its best.
No. 3: The 1-2 Pick and Roll/Pick and Pop
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The 1-2 pick and roll is a rarely used play in basketball, but it can be highly effective and could become a staple of Roy and Felton's offensive arsenal.
At 6'6", Roy can set a solid pick, and though Felton is a mere 6'1", he's a strong, physical point guard who could steal off other guards.
Because of Roy's excellent midrange shooting he's a great player in a pick and pop, if a defender follows Felton to the hoop of pick Felton can easily make a pass out to Roy who'll knock down the shot.
In addition, Felton is one of the NBA's better pick and roll guards, and though he hasn't played much 1-2 previously, he should be able to master it pretty quickly.
Roy always works better with a pick and running a pick and roll with Roy would keep the ball moving and the offense from getting stagnant. Roy wouldn't have to rely on isolation plays for his scoring and could work on setting high picks for Felton.
Since both are skilled at getting into the paint and to the rim, they'll be difficult to stop once they get some momentum. Roy doesn't have a great set of post moves right now, but he could certainly develop some. Look at Kobe after he worked with Hakeem Olajuwon.
Also, both are excellent at getting into the lane and drawing fouls, so running a play together where they can penetrate and get past opposing guards would be a nice addition to Nate McMillan's offensive sets.
Having that kind of well rounded offensive talent running a play would make a pick and roll with Raymond Felton and Brandon Roy one of the toughest and unconventional plays to defend.
No. 4: Improve Roy's Play Without the Ball
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Up until his injuries last season, Brandon Roy was widely considered one of the league's best shooting guards, but there was one fundamental area that he could stand to improve: his movement without the ball.
Roy is a ball dominating guard and isn't nearly as effective at slashing and moving without the ball. Roy's offense consists mostly of either him taking his defender in an isolation play or a player like Aldridge coming out to set a high screen as Roy makes a move to the hoop.
With the emergence of L.A. as a top notch option around the basket as well as Felton coming to town who also works best with the ball in his hands, Roy is going to have to improve his work without the ball to continue to be a key contributor in the Blazers offense.
Whether he's running around picks to get open, spotting up at the three-point line or around the perimeter or even setting screens in a 1-2 pick and roll like I talked about in Slide 3.
He can also be more of a facilitator and playmaker like he was coming off the bench this past season, looking to pass the ball more often.
For Roy and Felton to mesh together Roy has to be willing to do more work without the ball in order for Felton to be his most effective and to maximize his contributions to the team.
No. 5: Work Together to Establish the Pace of the Game
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Last season the Trail Blazers were dead last in pace, averaging 90.5 possessions used per game. That was partially due to the injuries that forced the team to play in a much slower, half-court oriented system but also because Andre Miller operated much better in halfcourt offense as opposed to getting out in transition.
With Felton coming to the team, the Blazers have the opportunity to play up their superior athleticism and play much more in the open court.
They have one of the most athletic young cores of players in the league and in a league increasingly reliant on athleticism that should help them make the transition to true title contender.
Brandon Roy may not be the dynamic athlete he was a year or two ago, but he is still a top-notch offensive player and a leader on the floor for Portland. The team looks to him to control the tempo of the game given his ability to break down the defense and dish the ball.
A backcourt of Roy and Felton should look to push the ball whenever possible, especially with excellent finishers like Aldridge and Wallace. However, without Miller, the two guards are going to need to improve their halfcourt execution in order to become one of the NBA's elite teams.
They're also going to need to work on controlling the tempo on the defensive end. Felton's a gritty player on the defensive end, always willing to exert himself on both ends of the floor. Roy isn't great defensively, so he's going to have to become a better team defender and defensive coordinator.
Nate McMillan is one of the league's better defensive coaches, and with quality defensive players like Matthews, Wallace and Batum, the team has the capacity to become one of the league's best teams on both ends of the floor.