In an NBA offseason where certain fan-friendly stars — e.g. LeBron, Carmelo, Chris Paul — have had their images altered in public opinion via free-agent moves and rumored trade demands, the last guy you’d expect to cross over to the “me” side is Brandon Roy.
The franchise superstar of the Portland Trail Blazers has been one of the NBA’s signature “good guys” ever since he burst onto the scene as the 2007 Rookie of the Year and brought his team back to prominence and likability following the “Jail Blazers” era. Fans and media love B-Roy for his easy-going nature, nice-guy demeanor, throwback-style game, and knack for always saying the right things and being humble in interviews.
But losing can bring out the diva in any ballplayer.
Through the first four games of the preseason the Blazers are 1-3, and Roy publicly displayed his discomfort with the situation in front of the Portland media at practice earlier in the week.
“I want the ball a lot more,” Roy was quoted by the Oregonian. “I want to be maximized every game. That’s a position that I’m strong with, with the basketball, and I’m extremely confident with it.”
As if the message wasn’t clear enough that he has a bone to pick with Portland coach Nate McMillan, Roy went on.
“We haven’t really put in the offense we’re used to working with,” Roy said. “The first three games, we didn’t even have an offensive play. We’re not really the type of team that plays loose. I don’t play loose. I kind of need some plays, some organization there. That’s some of the reason why I think we’re not panicking, because we’re not really running plays yet.”
There’s no question that franchise players want the basketball in their hands, but asking for it even more — especially when you’re surrounded by playmakers — might be a little too much. With four seasons under his belt, Roy has averaged 15.7 shot attempts per game, and I would go as far as to name him the third-best shooting guard in the NBA behind Kobe (19.3) and Dwyane Wade (18.4). As a ball-dominant two-guard, Roy has the ball in his hands as much as almost any of his peers at the position.
After listening to his interview, to me it sounded like Roy is uncomfortable playing alongside Andre Miller — which means he likely preferred Steve Blake’s standstill shooting — and that he lacks confidence in his teammates to make plays. Or he recently read Keyshawn Johnson’s book, Just Give Me The Damn Ball.
For Roy to dominate the ball even more would be detriment to his health on the court. As he stated, attacking the basket is his style of play, but not only would he be taking more hard fouls and landing frequently on his back — which he does already — he would also be taking away opportunities from his teammates such as Nic Batum and Wesley Matthews, who are defensive-minded players, to develop their respective offensive games. Roy also stated that he prefers the pick-and-roll and isolation plays, which work for players who prefer to shoot first and pass later unless they’re double-teamed. But that would just give the defense the upper hand and makes it easier to stop, which was evident the past two years during the playoffs for Portland.
Playing along side ‘Dre can’t be that bad, can it? After all, Roy attempted jump shots 74 percent of the time last season, but was assisted on 38 percent of them.
Is Brandon Roy part of the problem with Portland’s offense? Think about it for a second: In his interview he stated that he doesn’t play loose, but if he noticed the type of players on his team, he should reconsider. When you have players like Rudy Fernandez, Jerryd Bayless, Greg Oden, Andre Miller (the distributor), and LaMarcus Aldridge, those are the type of guys who are built for running the floor, making explosive drives to the basket, and tossing up lob passes like a Frisbee.
McMillan has preached defense in Portland, and I don’t expect him to allow this offense to play more loosely, especially with the risks of 1-on-1 basketball and the lack of team play. With the type of offense Roy wants to run, he’s starting to look like Allen Iverson — someone who is unwilling to sublimate himself for the sake of the team and would rather have Portland try and work around him, which points to a lot of first round exits and an eventual “injury prone” label slapped on Roy.