Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Blake Conundrum

I agree with my co-author in that Blake is far from the type of player who will elevate this team into "contender" status. But is that what Portland needs?

i wrote at the time of the signing that:

"I'm not convinced that Jarrett Jack is a long-term solution at PG for a playoff-caliber team...but I'm also not quite sure what has changed about Steve Blake since the last time he was here. I think that averaging 6 assists per game while being the only pass-first player playing next to a couple of mad gunners like Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony isn't that impressive."

But thinking a little more about this, and taking a closer look at the numbers, it's starting to make a little more sense. Blake piloted a pretty good team last year -- the Nuggets went something like 15-7 (Editor's note: it was actually 16-6) to finish the year once everyone got healthy and acclimated to each other, and they gave San Antonio their toughest playoff series of the playoffs. And I keep going back to the fact that with Roy, Aldridge, and Oden, you just need role players to fill the gaps -- and Blake is that type of role player. Plus, since it's a three year deal, he's basically here to help facilitate the transition from "young guys with promise" into "bad ass conteders". We don't need him to take us to the next level; we need him to play well while our studs mature.

Also, his 6 assists/2 turnover averages was in 22 minutes per game, so if he plays 30 , you can probably give him 8 assists per game. Do you know how many players averaged 8 assists per game last year? Five. Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Baron Davis, Chris Paul, and Derron Williams. And check out Blake's April numbers. He played 30.1 minutes per game and averaged 7.7 assists. In February, he played 35 minutes per game, and averaged 8.4 assists per game. Denver was a better offensive team last year, averaging 105.4 points per game (third in the NBA), than Portland will be this year so we can't expect the same amount of production purely based on the fact that he won't have as many possessions to generate those assists. But given what Portland needs right now, given what we're paying for Blake, and given the flexibility it gives our roster both from a trading perspective and an on-court perspective, I've gone from "optimistic but wondering why" to "fully in favor" of this signing.

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