Jun 11

Positioning the Blazers - Point Guard

By Kassandra Posted in: AndreMiller, ArmonJohnson, Blazers, BrandonRoy, ElliotWilliams, PattyMills, WesleyMatthews
The following is the first of a three-part series on this blog where I'll take a look at each position on the Blazers roster and what the realities of off-season moves might have on those positions. Today we'll look at point guard; part 2 will cover the wings (sg and sf), and in part 3 will focus on the bigs (pf and center).

A long-term solution at point guard may just be the most compelling issue facing the Blazers in the off season. There may not be any one solution which appears more attractive than another.

Will the Blazers re-sign Andre Miller? Can Patrick Mills or Armon Johnson emerge to take a major roll with the team?  What impact will Elliot Williams have with the Blazers? Will the team look to the draft to find a long-term solution at the point? Will a trade be made to bring in that piece of the puzzle?

In order to truly consider the questions, we should take a look at our current options.

: The 6'2" starter will be entering his 13th season in the league. Whether he'll don a Blazers' uniform for that season remains to be seen. Andre showed he can still carry the team for stretches when needed. He's an intelligent, crafty player who has missed just six games during his career -- just three of those due to injuries. This means he's had no career-shortening injuries. The biggest knock on him is that he's 35, which is generally considered on the older end of a player's career. The team has to decide whether sign him to a third year by June 29. If Portland signs him, his contract would expire after this coming season.
Question: Can Andre continue to be an effective starting point guard for the Blazers this season, possibly longer with a contract extension?
Analysis: He may be 35, but Jason Kidd is three years older and has helped lead the Mavericks to the finals this season. He likely has three more solid years in the league. However, if Portland selects a pg with its first pick in the draft, Andre's days in the Rose City very well could be numbered.

: Patty played in 64 of his 74 career games last season, and earned a role as the backup pg. He's a quick player with a good shot and willingness to get his teammates involved. He also improved his defense over the course of the season. One criticism is consistency from game to game. He's a great teammate and has an exceptional connection with fans. Should the team make a qualifying offer, he will be a restricted free agent; if they don't, he will be an unrestricted free agent.
Question: Can Patty elevate his game enough to indicate he can be no less than the backup pg of the future and even possibly a starter?
Analysis: I see a high ceiling for Patty. He has the tools and the motivation. It's apparent that he wants to remain a Blazer (fans certainly want him here). There seems to be no indication whether the team will extend a qualifying offer; regardless, there likely will be interest in Patty from other teams once he becomes a free agent.

: Armon came into the season as an untested rookie, but quickly was inserted into the lineup as the backup to Andre. Shortly thereafter, he found himself on the bench due to turnover problems. This was followed by a pair of stints in the D-League where he played quite well for Idaho. Armon's defensive abilities reportedly impressed coach McMillan. He is signed through the upcoming season.
Question: Can Armon become a distributor and limit his turnovers to earn a spot in the rotation?
Analysis: Armon has a great work ethic and a drive to improve. The question isn't so much whether he can get there, but whether the make up of the position and the team will give him the chance. His drive and desire to improve could serve him well toward that end.

Summary: Surgery on both knees sidelined Elliot, so little is known about what impact he may have on the team, and the pg position in particular. A combo guard, at 6'5" he would have a height advantage over most opposing players when he lines up at the point. He averaged 1.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 12 minutes per game in his four pre-season games last year. Prior to his knee surgeries, he had a reported 46-inch vertical leap. Elliot is signed through the upcoming season, with team options for the following two seasons.
Question: The real query here is what his role will be for the Blazers during what will be considered his rookie year?
Analysis: Elliot can play either guard position which could give McMillan some flexibility in how to use him. However, with Brandon Roy and Wesley Matthews around at sg, it's improbable that he'll find many meaningful minutes there. His best bet will be to try and work his way into the pg rotation. My general feeling that of all four of these guys, Elliot is the least likely to be included in a trade.

There we have it; one veteran and three guys who really haven't had a legitimate chance to earn their place on the roster. Sure, Patty and Armon have played some, but probably not really enough for us to be able to make a true determination of what impact they could have in the future.

Any number of things could happen regarding any one or two of these players. It's safe to say the Blazers' selection in the draft (June 23) will play a major role in the decisions of how the team moves forward at the pg position.

The one thing I would project here is that one or two of these guys will probably not be a Blazer by opening night. As unfortunate as that seems, it appears to be the reality of the situation.

~ Kassandra

In Kassandra's Words will feature regular blogs throughout the off-season. Comments and questions are welcome and encouraged. Seasons begin and end, but our Blazers are forever. Please follow on twitter: @Kassandra227


  1. Good blog! Great anslysis and great things to think abt I hope we keep patty! U2

    by teresa galer on 6/12/2011 8:38 AM
  2. Miss Kassandra, my favorite poster and becoming my favorite blog poster, your competition is Sarah, and Barrett of course. Did I ever tell you I like you or is it a stipulated fact, found through studying litigation law.

    Anyway my hat off to you for a terrific insight to the Blazers. Of course there is a but and I will post that below.

    by Hg on 6/12/2011 9:24 AM
  3. Miss Kassandra:
    As promised there is a but, but :), it really isn't a but, it is answering your questions from my stand point.

    Besides liking you, you are brainy and cute. Oops, back on subject.

    1. Your analysis is on the money on all four.

    2. I believe Dre will be in a Blazer uniform next year, because although he is getting long tooth, he hasn't shown any sign of losing his ability of moving the team, and his durability is without question. My knock on him would be his lack of outside shooting to keep the opponents defense honest, but if our shooting gd whether it be Wesley or BRoy start getting more consistent with their scoring and if GW, or Batum develops a more consistent 3pt shot, then that would not be a problem. Regardless of his age, and his long ball shooting, I believe he will be a Blazer at least until another starting PG is completely ready to take his place,and then we will slowly be reduced in number of minutes much like Jason Kidd for the Mavs is doing. (you opened the subject in your introduction, therefore you can't object to any mention of that convicted domestic violent butt head LMAO.

    3. Regardless if Patty becomes our pgotf or not, Dre will still be in place as starting PG until Patty can show is ready. One thing for sure, he has lots of other factors that makes him attractive to being in a blazer uniform, but his trade value is high because he is fast and is the type of PG that teams are looking for. Therefore as you stated, whether Patty can be a SPGofTF is unknown at this time, but IMO I think he will stay a Blazer and a situational PG. because of all he brings. And he likes you too.

    4.Armon Johnson, IMO, is the most likely to be traded, because he is said to be a left handed JBay, we traded JBay to move on and be fair to JBay at the same time, so I believe he will be moved. Nevertheless as you said, he is big, great on D and is a gym rat like JBay, so he is still unknown as to how he can respond to his offensive knock.

    5. Elliot Williams, As you said is unknown as far as position, and contributing, but he was drafted with his knee problem, with the plan of getting corrective surgery, so I am sure he will remain because of his athelism, his hops and speed. Which position he plays might depend on the pending Lock-out with the rumors of dropping BRoy with the amnety clause that is rumored to take in effect. Oops, Introduced new material there, but you are more then welcome to add your Opinion to the rumors LMAO. Like please comment. All in all as prior stated by the author of this blog, EW is still technically a rookie and will be a Blazer for at least a short time. But then, nothing is forever.

    5. Of course all this depends on our activities in the draft and FA, but as of now this is how I feel it is.

    by Hg on 6/12/2011 10:18 AM
  4. I think Dre and Patty can be the UpRise version of Kidd and Barea. Dre and Kidd are seasoned veterans with larger than average PG bodies (and larger than average recoup times due to their age). Dre's minutes will need to be monitored/capped in the regular season so his body is still fresh WHEN the Blazers are playing in the 2nd round and beyond next season.

    I think the Blazer movement erupts if Patty gets more minutes and takes full advantage. It's not like the Blazer fans need anything to get them excited about basketball, but Patty has a way of busting things wide open sooner than later.

    Great blog!

    by BlockParty aka Teamship on 6/12/2011 2:08 PM
  5. Elliott Williams has the best shot at being the long term starter, but I still think our PG is Shumpert or McCamey in the draft.

    by mbmurr1 on 6/12/2011 8:17 PM
  6. My take:
    Patty & Armon will be backups in the NBA, pick your favorite and let the other one go (Keep Patty BTW!!!)

    Dre is great but his expiring contract is even greater. We should use that piece to try to pull off another Wallace type of trade where we get an All-Star for an expiring deal.

    Use our MLE on a PG

    by ClydeFrog on 6/14/2011 12:52 PM
  7. I forgot to mention E-Will. I love his game and hope he hones in on his shooting skills because he seems to have everything else down pat.

    by ClydeFrog on 6/14/2011 12:54 PM
  8. I think PG is where we are the most full. But that being said, I think it's a good thing because we have so many options. As far as long term, solid PG play, I'm not sure anyone on the current roster can become a full-time starter. I love Patty's energy and your right, the fans love him and he showed signs of improvement. Armon has a lot to work on. E-Will, he's a wildcard for me. Haven't seen much from him due to injury. Should be interesting what Portland does in a couple of days.

    by CrazyRusty on 6/18/2011 9:45 PM
  9. I don't think the Blazers are going to get a free agent point guard. They might get one in the draft and that's the thing which could most affect this position. If no point guard is drafted, then they should not only bring Miller back, but sign him to a two year extension. Let's make him a Blazer for his last three good years. If we draft a point, then two of the guys you listed will be gone and If they don't it will be one. In that case it seems like it would come down to either Mills or Johnson. I think we should keep Mills but something tells me in that case, the team would keep Johnson.

    by julianne on 6/19/2011 7:17 PM
  10. Hg, i think Andre will be a blazer next year too. there's no real reason to rock the boat there. Armon is probably the most tradeable because Patty already has more experience and more of a team-first attitude. the team wants to find out what Elliot can do, which is why i don't think he's going anywhere.

    TG: i really like Patty's potential. let's face it, on and off the court he is a fan favorite. he's got the tools to make an impact for us. he definitely has a career in the nba, and i hope it's in portland.

    BP: great comparison of Dre and Patty to Kidd and Barea. we really missed an opportunity by not using Patty in the playoffs. the australian could have worn out Barea; made him play defense. great comparison!

    by Kassandra on 6/20/2011 7:10 PM
  11. Clydefrog (have to ask you one day about that screen name!): i don't want to discount Armon at all. i think he can have a career in the league. i just happen to think Patty is a better fit for what we need. we could use Andre's expiring contract to trade for a major pg, or we could bring him back and extend his contract for a couple more years while he's still got something to give. i figure he's got about three more years of as a starter.

    Ryan: we are pretty stacked at pg, not to mention that Nate seems to like the idea of sticking Brandon or Rudy at the point. i don't know that we need to actively look for a replacement right away. there is talent there.

    Jules: i think we'll only bring in a point guard possibly through the draft or if we get a good deal in a trade. i really think we'll hold on to Andre.

    by Kassandra on 6/20/2011 7:23 PM
  12. Good post, Kass. The PG position will definitely be an interesting thing to follow this off-season. Andre is good trade bait with his contract but I still see him in a Blazers uniform next season. If I had to choose between Armon and Patty at this point, I think I'd go with Patty. Like you've said, he's a fan favorite and also somewhat seems like the "glue" of the Blazers. He's great for the locker room and keeping guys in good moods. His shot is a tad inconsistent but that can be worked on and his defense got better throughout the season. He's quick and can cause a lot of problems, like Barea did for Dallas.

    I still think it was a mistake by coach Nate to not play Patty in the playoffs. Yes, he's young but he's been through big games before with the Australian national team. I think he could have slowed down Barea's penetration in the paint with his quickness.

    I don't really see Eliot as a point guard unless his knees were really effected by the surgeries. I do think we'll keep him around as well because we wouldn't want to let go of something when we haven't even seen him play one NBA game. I'll definitely be watching this position closely this off-season.

    by Mark on 6/21/2011 1:03 AM
  13. hey Mark! thanks for reading and commenting. Elliot is more of a combo guard than anything else. think of an extraordinarily athletic Jerryd Bayless. he'll probably back up both guard positions, but i put him into the pg blog since i think he has a better chance to get minutes there. agreed about wanting to see him olay at the nba level.

    by Kassandra on 6/21/2011 8:03 PM
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