What if… (Part 2)
Giving a brief history lesson on one of Seattle’s finest, Brandon Roy.
Who remembers the amount of star shooting guards the NBA had in the mid 2000s? From Ray Allen, Iverson, Wade, Redd, TMac & of course, the late, great Kobe Bryant. The NBA had a plentiful amount of two guards in the NBA during that time, but there was one particular shooting guard who would strike the hearts of many NBA fans and would go on to make the Portland Trailblazers relevant once more.
Brandon Roy. B-Roy. The Natural. From Seattle, Washington Roy was a quick, unstoppable, left handed guard who could get to any spot on the floor with relative ease. Roy, who attended the University of Washington where he averaged a combined 14.3 PPG on 51/34/76 shooting splits in his four years there was highly regarded as the best player in the state when coming out of high school. Roy was so talented that his name was mentioned as a possible player to enter the 2002 NBA draft right out of high school.
Roy, would instead attend college, being the first in his family to do so. His Junior year, Roy averaged 12.8 PPG and would consider entering the draft until fellow teammate Nate Robinson and Martell Webster would throw their names in. Instead, Brandon would return for his Senior year where he would put on an absolute clinic. Roy lead the Huskies to a 26 win season, including two 35 point games against Arizona State and the Arizona Wildcats. this lead to the Huskies second straight Sweet Sixteen appearance. That season he averaged 20.2 PPG on 50/53/40 shooting splits to go along with 4.1 assists and 5.6 boards.
Roy would eventually be named Pac-10 player of the year and would be named a finalist for the Wooden, Naismith, Oscar Robertson, and Adoph Rupp awards. After his Senior season ended, Roy would have a pre-draft workout with the Portland Trailblazers prior to the 2006 NBA Draft where he went 6th overall to the Minnesota Timberwolves who then traded him to the Trailblazers for Randy Foye. (I bet Minnesota would like to redo that one)
Brandon would be joining a rebuilding team now coached by fellow Seattle legend, Nate McMillian. Roy would regularly attend Nate’s basketball camps as a kid when he played for the SuperSonics. These Trailblazers were terrible and I mean that in the worst way. Coming off of a season where they went 21–61, had the lowest offensive rating in the league, and was the 28th worst team in regards to defensive rating. This team obviously needed help and they would get a big boost from both Roy and Lamarcus Aldridge who went 2nd overall in the 06' Draft by the Chicago Bulls who then traded him to Portland for Tyrus Thomas. (Chicago would probably love to redo this as well)
The following season, Portland would finish 32–50 (gotta start somewhere right?) Brandon Roy’s first game of that season you ask? Would be against his hometown Sonics where he put up 20 points on 62% shooting in a 110–106 victory. He would unfortunately miss 20 games early in his rookie campaign with a left heel injury, but would return on December 20th, and on December 22nd, Roy would put up his first career double-double. Off the bench, Roy had 16 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists in a 101–100 OT loss against the Toronto Raptors.
By the end of January, Roy would be leading all rookies with 14.5 PPG, with some stellar games along the way. He had 23, 5, and 5 on 53% shooting in a 110–105 OT victory against the Sacramento Kings on January 6th. On January 21st he would put up a then career high 28 points and 9 rebounds on 66/66/75 shooting splits in a 99-95 win against the Milwaukee Bucks. Roy would be invited to All-Star Weekend for the Rookie Challenge, being the first Trailblazer since Rasheed Wallace to do so.
Roy would finish his rookie season with averages of 16.9 PPG, 4.0 APG, and 4.4 RPG on 45/37/83 shooting splits. Brandon would be apart of the 06–07 All-Rookie team and would win Rookie of the Year. In just his second year, Roy would be named an All-Star for the first time in a season where the Trailblazers would finish with a 41-41 record. He averaged 19.1 PPG, 5.8 APG, and 4.7 RPG on 45/34/48 shooting splits. He finished his Sophomore campaign with 10 double-doubles and his first ever triple double coming against the Knicks. He had 20 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds in a 94-88 victory. He would also drop a career high 32 points on 64% shooting in a 91-82 victory against the Dallas Mavericks.
By year three, it would seem that the NBA game would begin to slow down for Roy and his stats would showcase that. in 08–09, B-Roy would average a career high 22.6 PPG, again being named an All-Star, and being named All-NBA (second team) for the first time in his career. This season included a ridiculous 5-game stretch where Roy would put up 30, 33, 38, 29, and a career high 52 points against the Phoenix Suns. But how did Portland do overall? Well they finished with an amazing 54-28 record, but would get knocked out of the playoffs in the first round against the Rockets. (inserts “What If” Pt.1) In that series, Roy would average 26.6 PPG including a 42 point performance in game 2. Regardless of their playoff exit, the Trailblazers seemed to have finally got it together on the backs of strong coaching from McMillian and stellar play from both Roy, Aldridge, and a rookie Greg Oden. This was obviously a young team with an ABSURD amount of potential.
In the 2009-10 season, Brandon Roy would sign a max contract with the Trailblazers, which would have kept him around until the 2013-14 season. He averaged 21.5 PPG which lead to him being named an All-Star for the third straight year and would be named to another All-NBA team (third) for the second straight year as well. The Trailblazers would finish with a 52–30 record and would again be put out in the first round by the Suns. Roy, who did not suit up for the first three games of the series, would struggle in games 4-6. He averaged an atrocious 9.6 PPG on a measly 31% shooting.
Those horrid playoff numbers stem from Roy having surgery earlier in the season to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee after an MRI showed a slight tear when he suffered a bone contusion literally the night before against the Los Angeles Lakers. He would also deal with a hamstring injury in January that he would re aggravate a week later (months prior to the surgery).
By the 2010-11 season, Roy was only 26 and is coming off of three straight All-Star seasons and a injury plagued fourth year. But with this time off due to the off season you would only hope that he would bounce back better than ever right?
During that season, Roy would only play 47 games in which he only started in 23 of them. He averaged a shockingly career low 12.2 PPG and by being only 26 years of age, it was hard to believe that he was already a shell of himself.
So what happened?
In the beginning of the season, Roy would start off like himself, scoring in abundance. He started off with three straight 20+ point games, including a 29 point game against the New York Knicks. But after up and down performances, including a 2 point outing against the then New Orleans Hornets. Roy would be in and out of the lineup with knee issues. Knee injuries unfortunately weren’t new to Roy, he dealt with them in college, but now you can obviously tell by his play that they were completely shot. He would miss nine consecutive games before the Trailblazers ruled him out indefinitely.
Rumors would start circulating that Brandon Roy would never be able to play at an All-Star level again. And on January 11th, 2011 those rumors would become reality. Brandon would have arthroscopic surgery on BOTH knees. He returned to the Trailblazers lineup in February in a limited role and after the Trailblazers finished the season with a 48-34 record, it was time for the playoffs. They would face the Dallas Mavericks in the first round and would eventually lose in six games. Roy, who spent that entire series coming off the bench would average 9.3 PPG. This included both a 0 and 24 point game.
That offseason, after many felt like the flashes he showed against Dallas would be a sign of good things to come for Roy. That would not be the case. Brandon Roy shocked everyone by announcing his retirement right before training camp and right after the NBA Lockout of 2011 would end. He stated that his knees degenerated so much that they lacked the cartilage for him to continue playing.
Not even 30 and Brandon Roy was forced to retire. I would touch on his brief comeback attempt with the Timberwolves, but in the end he only played 5 games before he needed to have season ending knee surgery.
Roy was a 3X All Star and a 2X All-NBA player. He was a “walking bucket” for the Trailblazers and for his career to end the way it did, is heartbreaking. With his playing days behind him, Roy has transitioned into being a high school basketball coach, leading Nathan Hale to a perfect 29-0 in 2017 behind NO.1 college recruit Michael Porter Jr. He is now the Head Coach of his alma mater, Garfield High School.
“Daggers” as some would call him, made his mark in the NBA. He achieved things players can only dream of achieving. If only he and Oden could have stayed healthy maybe, just maybe Portland could have finally got out of the first round and potentially make some noise. The late, great Kobe Bryant once said that Brandon Roy had “no weaknesses” in his game. If you aren’t familiar with Brandon Roy, that alone should tell you how much of a killer he was on the court.