Can Brandon Roy be Depended On?
The number 7 is symbolic of completion–so God must not be done with No. 7 yet.
by Sandy Dover / @SandmanSeven
On April 11, 2010, playing against the Los Angeles Lakers on a Sunday afternoon, the Portland Trail Blazers’ Brandon Roy was injured in the game as he tore the meniscus in his knee…and for the third season out of his four total in the NBA, Roy went down with an injury that somehow significantly affected his team’s potential success.
I want to be very, very clear when I say this–Brandon Roy is a very good basketball player. His play has far exceeded what was expected of him coming out of college and his team has grown from middling to incredibly good throughout his time in the League. He’s an NBA All-Star and he is very deserving of his status as being one of the best players in the League, but my question is this–can you depend on him? Hear me out.
When he was selected as the sixth overall pick in 2006, hindsight says he probably should’ve been the first overall selection, but prior to this thinking, he even made it as high as the sixth spot was nothing short of a miracle to some people. The major concern about Roy wasn’t so much his playing ability, as he had matured gradually and with notable success at the University of Washington, but the guy had some real issues with his lower body. His knees seemed suspect, but he impressed scouts enough to be considered a top-10 guy and he’s surely earned it.
His rookie year, his second year and now this season, Roy has endured numerous injuries to his feet, upper and lower legs and knee. Not that he is at fault for these things, as he is one of the hardest-working players in the League–even Kobe Bryant said he is a player without weakness – but it may be time for Portland to recognize that Roy is what he is–injury-prone. Every NBA player gets beat up, but for some reason, Roy and his lower body don’t always get along. I don’t know if it’s an anatomical problem or what, but there’s always something with him, and it’s sad because it’s been rare to see him start and finish a season strong. His third season in the League, ‘08-09, Roy played a career-high 78 games, which is something to relish in for him because every other year has seen light to lengthy “Roy-time” on the bench; all of his other games played, which include this regular season’s count, are 57, 74 and 65. It has made me ask along (and especially now), “Can Portland truly win with him?”
Obviously, the Trail Blazers can win games with No. 7, but will he endure? The players who really are able to lead and help teams win big are players who can hold up through regular seasons, through and through, and it’s tried and true. Kobe, Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce of yesteryear, Steve Nash, Kevin Durant, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade (save for his ugly shoulder injury a few seasons ago), Tim Duncan and LeBron James are all virtual iron men, and all have either won championships or have been in true contention for titles…Portland took a gamble when it bet on B. Roy, not only on his blossoming into a true pro talent, but also on him remaining healthy as a Trail Blazer. While he has seen better-than-average success in staying on the court and although he is only 25, it is seeming like it might be unreasonably optimistic to see a truly healthy Roy with the stamina and endurance to fight off his health issues and stay season-strong–I pray he can overcome them in time.
With that said, I did mention Mr. James. You know, “The King”, the one with the “LBJ23,” lion head and Dunkman logos (another Shaq original, by the way). We all know he is going to be a free man in this summer of 2010, and Portland is the homebase of the most powerful shoe company of the world–Nike, Inc. Economically, Portland has an owner (Paul Allen) worth billions of dollars whose history has shown he has been willing to pay out for far inferior talent compared to James, and what better than for the soon-to-be No. 6 to go to the 1992 Finals rival of his hero, Michael Jordan, with the same classic hues of red, black and white? In short, Portland has to make a play on the Akron native.
Realistically, the team as it is is not built for a championship–the Trail Blazers will not win big with their roster, not when their best players are falling and can’t get up. The Roy-LaMarcus Aldridge duo is not going to win a title, and instead of wishing upon a star, maybe it’s best for Portland to make a big play for LBJ. And if not LeNike, then even the Atlanta Hawks’ Joe Johnson would be highly acceptable–he’s probably the most similar to Roy in size, demeanor and style of play, and he’s very durable. Roy knows it is a business (especially after the 2009 offseason’s summer contract extension talks he was central to), and so with that, something must change. Of course, that doesn’t mean all will be fixed, but it sure means Portland is a lot closer to its goals of bringing home another championship. Sign-and-trade would be the ideal method, but it’s a matter of being ambitious and realistic. For all of BRoy’s talent, he may never be the one to last. We’ve all seen what Tracy McGrady has gone through, even early in his career in Toronto with the lagging injuries on his 6-8 (really 6-10) frame. The New Orleans Hornets’ Chris Paul hasn’t really had a excellent record of health and he’s the League best overall point guard, and so Portland must be proactive to save itself.
You can believe in Brandon Roy, sure, but depending on him is a horse of another color.
Sandy Dover is a novelist/writer, artist and fitness enthusiast, as well as an unrepentant Prince fan (for real). You can find Sandy frequently here at SLAMonline, as well as at Twitter.