Eleven days ago, the Portland Trail Blazers ' trade for Marcus Camby did two things:
1. It gave them a legit center that is a defensive presence in the paint and has the ability to make them relevant in the Western conference playoff race for the time being.
2. It freed up playing time for the Blazers' young, unproven players. One in particular being Jerryd Bayless. Allowing the the combo guard to prove himself as a point guard.
The best way to describe his progress thus far?
He has excellent ball handling skills and great body control when going to the rim, but that is all he does. He tends to force bad jump shots and forces the ball into the paint. When he is running the pick-and-roll, he takes off before the pick is set, either drawing an offensive foul on the setter or a broken play for the offense.
For the record, I never thought that Bayless would turn into a true point guard. He showed the eagerness to score and the willingness to work hard in the off season, but never showed the natural ability to bring his teammates into the game.
His natural ability is shown when he is scoring.
In 18.1 minutes a game, he is averaging 9.3 points and 2.3 assists with 1.2 turnovers on a 41 percent shooting and 27 percent from beyond the arc.
At first, this may seem pretty darn good, because his per 48 minutes rating would be about 25 points, 6 assists, and 4.2 turnovers.
But it just isn't. a 2.4 to 1 turnover assist ratio is the average for point guards in the NBA , but considering he isn't the primary ball handler when he is out on the court, his 1.2 turnovers in 18 minutes is terrible.
Although much of this may seem like it's coming from a negative Nancy, I would like to point out that the Blazers already have two viable options for their future point guard, possibly even three...
Option one: Petteri Koponen
Th Blazers draft him years ago and sent him to Europe to develop. Right now he is playing and playing well, averaging 30.1 minutes, 13.9 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.5 steals, and .8 turnovers on 67.9 percent shooting.
According to scouts, Petteri's greatest weakness was the ability for him to play off of the ball. This season, Earl Boykins, and Petteri had been teamed in the back court forcing Petteri to play off of the ball nearly all of the time Boykins was on the court, also forcing him to learn to play off of the ball on the fly.
Strengths: Shut down one-on-one defense, big game experience, versatility, his natural point guard mentality, and basketball IQ.
Weaknesses: Self-confidence and strength
I fully expect the Blazers to finally bring the Finnish guard to Portland and according to Petteri the organization has been scouting him heavily this season
Option Two: Patty Mills
The best way to describe the way Patty plays is fast.
Many Americans remember Mills spurning the likes of Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and Jason Kidd in an 20 point effort against the Americans. The American guards just didn't have the speed or quickness to stay in front of the Australian guard.
Speed kills in the NBA, so whereever he gets a chance, he will always have that to lean on.
Strengths: Speed, three-point specialist and body control.
Weaknesses: Bad shots, size, strength and experience.
(possible) Option Three: Rudy Fernandez
Now, before we get too worked up let me just tell you that Rudy has experience as a Point guard in professional play and clearly possesses the natural court vision that all point guards have.
Although he has mostly been a spot up shooter here in Portland, we have seen glimpses of what could be in each and every game. His court vision and superb passing allows him to make his teammates better and find open players anyone on the court.
Strengths: Court vision, body control, three-point shooting, passing ability, basketball IQ, and experience.
Weaknesses: Strength, leadership, and he tends to force shots even on broken plays.
I strongly believe that all three options have better pure point instincts than that of Jerryd Bayless. Not that I don't think Bayless can't turn into a good player or even a good point guard in this league. I just don't think he has the ability to be the starting point guard on a championship team.
And that's the goal, isn't it?