Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Blazers: Gunning For the Wrong Guy?

I just read a report that the Blazers are trying to swap picks with the Nets in order to draft a potential franchise point guard.

This is fantastic news. I'm a big proponent of moving expendable assets - Jarrett Jack, Sergio Rodriguez (is he still considered an asset?), Channing Frye, and, yes, even Travis Outlaw - in order to boil all that quantity into higher quality. And adding a young, inexpensive point guard with tailored skills to the current nucleus is the definition of quality.

The only problem? I think they might be targeting the wrong guy.

According to the Yahoo report, Portland is making a play for Texas' D.J. Augustin. Make no mistake, I'm sure Augustin will be fine as a pro. He has an innate ability to keep his dribble alive ala Steve Nash and he plays a pretty fearless-yet-intelligent brand of basketball. He's also a potent spot-up shooter from distance. Unfortunately, that last trait is the only one likely to help the Blazers a great deal, due to the fact that Brandon Roy and even Rudy Fernandez are going to be doing so much of the playmaking for this team.

In fact, here is my personal checklist for the ideal point guard to team with Roy in the Portland backcourt:

1. Young and cheap (in other words, a rookie fits the bill perfectly)
2. Fantastic defensively (so that Roy never has to even think about guarding Chris Paul)
3. A good spot-up shooter with range
4. Strong character
5. Fast

To me, Augustin's letter grades for each checklist item look like this:

1. A
2. C-
3. B+
4. A (as far as I know)
5. B

Not the worst report card imaginable, but a little spotty.

Now compare that to fellow Big 12 guard prospect Mario Chalmers. My boy Chalmers has been shooting up draft boards everywhere but should definitely be available at #10. Here's his report card:

1. A
2. A (best defensive guard in the draft)
3. A (ridiculous 47% from three last year)
4. A
5. A

You will note that "ball handling," "leadership," and "playmaking" were not on my checklist. Some might call it cherry picking for Chalmers, but the truth is, the Blazers aren't in any great need of those traits. Again, they need a guy who can play off their current players and do a handful of things really, really well.

Chalmers strikes me as not only the most underrated player in this draft, but also an ideal fit for this group. He has the attitude, the pedigree, and some Rondo-like defensive traits that pair perfectly with his more "off the ball" style of point guard play. If the former Jayhawk has one weakness it is that he's a straight line player with a limited handle. If I'm being honest, I have to admit that he's probably not a pure point guard.

But that's the beauty of this whole thing ... the Blazers don't need a pure point guard! They just need someone who can guard pure point guards while helping to push tempo and knock down threes. That's it. Easy game.

Take Chalmers, KP. Do it!

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Jae said...

I agree that Augustin's not the guy, but I don't think Chalmers has enough game. Personally, I think they're just blowing smoke and trying to talk up the value of the pick. "You too could have the fantastic PG DJ Augustin, a surefire top 10 pg, on a rookie contract for 4 years! So, how about Frye + 13 for Devin Harris?"

Nick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nick said...

A biased ("my boy" mario)unprofessional, inconclusive argument. Augustine has a higher hollinger rating than derick rose. Do the research!

Ramblerfan said...

Great points Adam. And Nick, maybe you should do the research; Hollinger himself, on the NBA Dish podcast, said any team that relied exclusively on his ratings to draft is foolish in the extreme.

Anonymous said...

Geez, Nick, get a life. The "my boy" reference was clearly tongue in cheek since the author has been hyping Chalmers so much. And I would argue that this is better "research" than most draft speculation. At least the two point guards were evaluated within the context of an individual team. Plus, might I remind you ... it's a BLOG. Why have blogs if you can't ditch a little of the stodgy professionalism normally associated with journalism. I really liked this post.

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