Brian Wheeler

Feb 03

Wesley Matthews: A Deserving All-Star

By Brian Wheeler
I confess that I didn’t know a whole lot about Wesley Matthews when the Blazers signed him to a free agent offer sheet over the summer.  Oh, I knew that he had surprised a lot of people by not only making Utah’s roster as an undrafted free agent last season, but also cracking their rotation, and even stepping into a starting role when their regular players were hurt.  And he never missed a beat when doing so, and by the end of his rookie season, was probably one of their unsung heroes.

Clearly, the Blazers’ scouts knew what they were getting as they had more than a few NBA experts scratching their heads when Wesley received his offer sheet.  Many felt the Blazers had overspent, but they obviously knew what they were doing as they structured a contract that the Jazz chose not to match.  If Utah had done so, Matthews would have gone back to the Jazz since he was a restricted free agent and the team could have matched any offer he got from another club.  Once they declined that opportunity, Matthews became a Trail Blazer.

What struck me first about Wesley was his initial press conference in Portland.  A lot of teams hesitate to give a player a big-money deal for fear that guy won’t feel the need to work as hard as he did to get the contract in the first place once he knows he has guaranteed dollars coming his way.  But Wesley said the contract wouldn’t change him.  He said the money was for his family.  He was just happy about the security it brought him, knowing he’d be playing in the same city for the foreseeable future.  He even said the contract wouldn’t change his work ethic at all, and that he’d be back in the gym the very night of the press conference doing what he needed to do to get better as a player.  I was impressed to say the least, and I hadn’t even seen Wesley score his first basket as a Blazer.

Once the season rolled around, it became apparent the Blazers had gotten themselves a steal. Wesley was as good as advertised, if not better.  Determined and driven on the court, he was humble as could be off it, which immediately endeared him to Blazers’ fans, who know a good work ethic when they see one, not to mention a good person.

Wesley quickly became popular with his teammates, and didn’t play like a guy who felt like he had to justify his free agent contract.  And when Brandon Roy was hampered with injuries, all of a sudden Matthews became a more important figure with this Blazers’ team.  Instead of being a complimentary 6th man, he was thrust into the starting lineup.  But just as he had done to cover for injured players last season in Utah, he was more than up to the challenge of repeating the feat with his new team.

And now the NBA world has taken notice.  The same experts that felt the Blazers overpaid for Matthews back in the summer are now calling his signing one of the best of the offseason.  And why not?  Wesley has played in every game for the Blazers, and has made the sting of losing Brandon for an extended period a little less painful.  And he leads all 2nd-year players in the NBA in 3-pt. field goals made, while ranking 2nd in scoring in that group, and 2nd in free throws made.  Not bad for a guy that nobody wanted to draft when he first came out of Marquette.

So as we look ahead to All-Star Weekend, let’s applaud the great accomplishments of 1st-year Blazer, Wesley Matthews. He’ll be in the Rookie Challenge playing for the sophomore team on Friday the 18th.  But I bet the All-Star trip won’t change him.  He’ll probably be back at the Blazers’ practice facility on Monday the 21st working on his game.  It’s just what he does, and it’s just who he is.

12 Comments

  1. Hey, Wheels - Nice article. I love Wes and his intensity and work ethic.

    Plus, I love YOU, Wheels. You're one of the current great play by play guys. But I have to say: During pre-game interviews and your stints on Courtside...Why in God's name are your questions 2 minutes long? You have to curb this behavior for the sake of the listener. You'll be asking Nate a question and you just keep asking and asking and talking and you've answered your own question three times by the time you finish talking. You know what I mean? Streamline!

    by madkinski on 2/3/2011 1:44 PM
  2. Agree with your blog and also nice blog

    by Lkiki503 on 2/3/2011 1:44 PM
  3. Nice to see you here Wheels, you rock !
    Go Blazers !!!!

    by sheedwuzright on 2/3/2011 1:58 PM
  4. Since when have we started referring to Rookie Challenge participants as all-stars? Wouldn't that make Roy a four-time all-star instead of the usually cited three times? Should we start including three point shootout, dunk contest, and skills challenge participants? The push to make the case for LA to be an all-star has bordered on pathetically desperate, but this is just asinine.

    I don't understand why everyone within the Blazers organization wants to be able to call SOMEONE on the team an all-star. What difference does it make? I know the name of the game for the Blazers is selling tickets (and more specifically season tickets) but is whether or not we have an all-star on the team really going to be a deciding factor for even one single person?

    by pdxsportsfan on 2/3/2011 2:33 PM
  5. I also agree, but his ankle is not going to be strong by the All-Star break, so I would rather him rehab than play BB. I would not expect him to miss the All-Star game tho. It is too important of an event for a sophomore in the NBA.

    Hg

    by Hg on 2/3/2011 2:37 PM
  6. Good article Wheels!

    I'm in agreement that Wesley should take the All Star weekend off to rest that tender ankle.

    by Shem on 2/3/2011 5:18 PM
  7. Nice blog, totally agree Wesley is worth every dime, and I love that he retired his mom :) Not only a good worker, a great player and teammate, but also a proper son!

    No way will he REST, please! He's gonna play, and seriously bring it. This guy doesn't know MEDIOCRE or HALF-MEASURE. Jeez, silliness....rest!

    by SisillaRiann on 2/3/2011 10:33 PM
  8. EowynAmarie:

    Wesley's ankle is becoming a serious issue in his health. I know he won't rest, but he needs time off of his ankle so he can heal. Every Time he re-injures it in a game, he is adding weeks on tho the recovery time.

    If he gets a torn ligament from all the sprains he may be down for a while.

    Nevertheless, I am like Kassandra the all-star week-end is a big popularity contest that doesn't alway match up to its hype.

    Hg

    by Hg on 2/4/2011 1:46 AM
  9. Great Blog- Agree Wesley was a steal and continues to get better. Love his work ethic and his attitude. Brings toughness to our team for sure.

    by RedRudy5 on 2/4/2011 3:55 PM
  10. Great Blog- Agree Wesley was a steal and continues to get better. Love his work ethic and his attitude. Brings toughness to our team for sure.

    by RedRudy5 on 2/4/2011 3:55 PM
  11. great blog wheels i did not know anything about him either and he has surprised me. I really like wesley and I am so glad we have him. it is very apparent now with roy down for who knows how long. I am happy we have one player reprsenting portland in all star weekend....he is so deserving...i agree wtih everything you have written

    by oregongal47 view (TG) on 2/4/2011 9:44 PM
  12. Nice piece Wheels! I went to the Jazz game on Dec. 30 where he scored 30 points. Love his game thus far. If he can just be more consistent, it would be great, but I think he was a great pick-up for this team.

    by Anees on 2/5/2011 2:12 PM
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