The NBA’s 30 best go-to players (#7: Brandon Roy)

10.20.09 9 years ago 32 Comments

Who do you want your offense to run through with everything on the line? Counting down 30th to 1st (one per team), I’ve ranked the League’s go-to guys…

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#7: BRANDON ROY, Trail Blazers

The best part is that he’s just getting started. The progression of Brandon Roy’s NBA career is hurtling toward H.O.F. status faster than the beaten paths of Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, among other legends. Look it up: Rookie of the Year in ’07, All-Star in ’08, All-Star and All-NBA and top-dog status on a 4th-seed playoff team in ’09, where he dropped 26 points a night in the postseason.

This past season also saw B-Roy jump into the fray as a certified crunch-time killer. His highlight reel included a turnaround 30-footer to beat Houston at the buzzer, a lefty scoop shot to beat the Knicks at the buzzer, and two free throws to beat Indiana with 1.7 on the clock.

But the two best examples of Roy’s crunch time ability didn’t involve game-winning buckets. The first was his 52-point national TV breakout against Phoenix. At separate junctures in the game Roy scored 11 and 14 consecutive points on a night when the entire defense was keying on him. Then in a must-win Game 2 of the Blazers’ first-round series against Houston, Roy stared down Ron Artest and Shane Battier and finished with 42 points — again with the defense keyed solely on him, and like the Suns game, again without turning the ball over once despite having it in his hands pretty much all game long.

In Portland, Roy is the only thing resembling a go-to guy. Period. He doesn’t have a Chauncey Billups or a Tony Parker or an Amar’e Stoudemire by his side. Travis Outlaw will make shots in the fourth quarter, but he’s a safety outlet; more Robert Horry than Kevin Durant. Roy gets as much attention from opposing defenses as any player in the NBA, and yet he’s still close to unstoppable when Portland needs a basket. He finished seventh in the League in “clutch time” scoring last year, putting up 42.0 points per 48 minutes, and was sixth in fourth-quarter scoring at 7.0 points. And since coming into the League, he’s shooting 36 percent on game-winning field goal opportunities, higher than LeBron, Vince, Kobe, Dirk and Pierce.

Roy doesn’t need a point guard to set him up; he is the point guard when situations get critical. Only 10 percent of his clutch time buckets last season were assisted — meaning he’s creating for himself — and Roy averaged 6.2 assists per 48 minutes of clutch; higher than Pierce, Kobe, Parker, Derrick Rose, T-Mac and ‘Melo. (Plus Roy’s 7.9 rebounds per 48 in the clutch was higher than ‘Melo, Pierce, Joe Johnson, Vince and D-Wade.)

With some postseason experience under his belt, Roy goes into his fourth pro season about as polished as anyone his age could be. Roy could improve his three-point shooting, and of course with more crunch-time reps and more big-time games will come an even more focused ability to produce in tight spots, but otherwise he has almost no holes in his game. Whether playing the role of scorer or distributor, he’s one of the most complete players in the game, and one of the most complete who will win you the game.

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8. Carmelo Anthony
9. Chris Paul
10. Deron Williams
11. Vince Carter
12. Joe Johnson
13. Danny Granger
14. Steve Nash
15. Kevin Durant
16. Gilbert Arenas
17. Derrick Rose
18. Chris Bosh
19. Andre Iguodala
20. Tracy McGrady
21. Baron Davis
22. Michael Redd
23. Devin Harris
24. Kevin Martin
25. Al Jefferson
26. O.J. Mayo
27. Stephen Jackson
28. Nate Robinson
29. Boris Diaw
30. Rip Hamilton

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