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NBA / Sep 28, 2009 / 9:45 am

The Portland Point Guard Battle

Andre Miller

Andre Miller

Sometimes in the NBA, deciding who’s going to start and who’s not is already predetermined. We all know who’s starting at the two-guard position for the Lakers and we know who’s the starting point guard down in New Orleans. But for the Portland Trailblazers’ point guard slot, it’s not that cut and dry. Last season, Steve Blake did a legit job at the point but now management upgraded the position this offseason by signing Andre Miller to a three-year, $21 million deal.

The obvious choice to start would be Miller. The 12-year vet has career averages of 14.6 ppg and 7.4 apg. Only two seasons ago, Miller had all-star considerations and helped lead the Sixers to the second round. He is one of those old school, pass-first type of guards that you rarely see in the game anymore. Miller’s going to compete and he’s going to get guys like Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge easy buckets.

But Blake has done a great job running the Blazers’ offense for the past two seasons. Though his numbers (11 ppg, 5 apg in ’08-09) aren’t as impressive as Miller’s, his 42.7 percent three-point percentage and 3.18:1 assist to turnover ratio makes him very efficient. Plus, he has the ear of the team and more importantly, the confidence of coach Nate McMillan. The coach even said Blake is the starter coming into training camp.

Whether that was a motivational tactic or not, it’s inspired Miller to chase a starting spot for the first time in his professional career. He was quoted in the Columbian as saying: “I’m going in there as the starting point guard — there’s nothing else to it,” Miller said. “I look at it as a challenge. Nothing is handed to you. So I have to go in there with the right attitude, knowing that, this is a point guard spot that is going to have to be battled for.”

I love it they are going into camp fighting for a spot the old fashioned way. But they got to be careful this competition does not disrupt the team chemistry if practices get too heated or if one of them is not happy about minutes during the year. As long as they keep the common goal in mind and accept whatever role McMillan assigns each of them this will be a better team than last year. Behind the Lakers and Spurs, the third seed is up for grabs and with a healthy and more productive Greg Oden and this upgrade at point guard, the Blazers are more than in the mix for that spot.

I envision Miller eventually starting and probably finishing games, but I see Blake maintaining an important role. I can see them splitting time at the position kind of like how Greg Anthony and Damon Stoudamire did in for the Blazers a decade ago. Blake will probably get 25 minutes total a night and play some two-guard as well.

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  • gus

    what about Bayless?

  • Flip

    Bayless will probably spend more time at the two-guard position. It’s his strength, anyways.

  • http://xgarcia.blogspot.com/ Xavier Garcia

    Blake will never play better than he did last year, Miller is the obvious choice for the starting unit whereas I can see Blake working well with the 2nd unit..

  • http://www.worldstarhiphop.com da real

    no question who starts, only the Knicks would pay 21 mill for a player and not start them. sucks for Bayless, he could start in this league, he went to the wrong team. Look at what Westbrook is doing with minutes and the green light. He will leave Portland as soon as he can and be a solid starter with paid training from the Blazers.

  • Abe504

    they shouldve never signed dude, can’t shoot plus they already had to good point guards on the team. all they had to do is play bayless more. people just don’t know, once bayless leaves the blazers, he gonna make them look stupid for not playin him.

  • http://www.geraldnarciso.com Gerald Narciso

    Yeah I agree, Bayless is in a tough spot. With the Blazers really looking to make a rrun in the playoffs, I dont think coach McMillan is trying to develop Jerrod. No doubt, if Bayless got some consistent minutes on a lottery team he could put up numbers

  • BiG ShoT BoB

    Yeah before I even finished reading the article I was thinking about Bayless. Looks like everyone here has the same sentiments.

  • johnny

    I don’t blame Port for having 2 solid vets. Miller is a notch above solid.

    They will need to condense their talent through trading. Port can contend this year if they do it right and stay healthy.

    Imagine what they could get for Bayless, Outlaw, Webster, Pendergraph and future picks. They are worth an all-star. And we are talking about guys who don’t need to be in rotation when Portland is healthy.

  • mtindore520

    Miller is going to start and make this team extremely dangerous, his post game is a complement to Roy and L.A.’s jumpshooting, and he’ll get Oden easy buckets at the rim, this is a scary team and one that always has my Lakers # at Portland, look out…

    @dime…the sixers were out in the first round, the last 2 seasons, going 6 games in 08 vs detroit and 6 vs orlando this last season…

  • gyps

    I agree, Bayless could do what Westbrook is doing if put in a similar position. Hopefully he goes somewhere sooner than later to develop as this kid is a great athlete that can flat out play. Could be a stud if placed in right situation.

  • http://twitter.com/PoppiGEE POPPI GEE

    Ain’t no battle. See the playoffs. They go Miller for playoff time mainly. Season time is just a plus. If they smart they really rotate minutes to save Miller.

  • Derik

    Miller and Blake is now, Bayless is the future.

  • sh!tfaced

    I see Steve Blake being slowly “phased out” as the season goes on. They won’t be able hold off Bayless for long.

  • Jake

    I’m not sure how to look at this situation. Both guys are very efficent and both produce. However, it seems like it would be foolish of the Blazers to spend all that money on Miller to not start him. If you include Bayless into this mix it would seem as though Steve Blake would have solid trade value. Both guys are solid and worthy of the job while Bayless waits in the wings. It just seems pointless to spend 21 mil on a guy then not start him.

  • jksonics

    Does anyone think 2nd rounder Patty Mills even has a shot of making the team with these 3 in front of him??

  • Sheedfan87

    While Miller is the more accomplished player and likely gets the starting nod, it’s important to note he never led the Sixers to the second round of the playoffs. Philly lost to Detroit in the first round two years ago and hasn’t been to the second round since 2003.

  • solomon (el latino machismo)

    wow, anthony and stoudamire… was it 10 yrs ago…

    feelin’ old and jurassic now…

  • Blazermark

    nuggets who?

  • http://heckler@aol.com Heckler

    i am not sold on this jerryd bayless talk. the kid is athletic, but not a true point guard. he can barely shoot and has weak court vision.

    as for steve blake and andre miller; we all know miller will be starting by thanksgiving anyway. it still amazes me that out of all them 2002 terps (juan dixon, byron muton, lonny baxter and chris wilcox), steve blake has actually had the best pro career.

    who would’ve thunk that….

  • matthew

    With Rudy already not getting enough minutes, I don’t really see how or why you would give any 2-guard minutes to Blake.

    It’s pretty simple, really. Miller will be the starter. Blake will get 15 minutes off the bench to spell Miller and when the Blazers need more outside shooting.

    This offseason is pretty boring, considering this is one of the more ‘interesting’ stories.

  • doc

    Picture Blake starting over Miller.Now picture Bryon Russell busting MJ’s ass.They both will never happen.