Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the empty chair to the left of Patty Mills—the Portland Trail Blazers’ 15th roster spot—is about to be filled by Travis Diener.
I’ll give you all a second to Google him.
You’re right, he is a former Marquette player, formerly drafted by the Orlando Magic, who has scored all of three points this year for the Indiana Pacers. But what do you really know about Travis Diener? That’s why we asked Tim Donahue of the excellent Pacers’ blog 8 points, 9 Seconds for the full scoop.
Travis is arguably the perfect third point guard. Believe it or not, he’s got excellent handles, among the best in the league in my opinion. He’s a good passer, and does a good job of running the offense. He is the type of guy who won’t hurt you with turnovers or dumb mistakes.
He won’t hurt the other team either. He’s a streaky shooter, at best. He has “too many moving parts” in his shot to be really consistent, particularly from long range. If he gets hot, great, but I wouldn’t count on it. Worse, 511 of the 615 shots he took during his Pacers tenure came from outside of 15 feet. He is very reluctant to try to finish at the rim, often getting into the teeth of the defense, even to the rim, then either dribbling back out or dumping it out to a perimeter player. This is demonstrate by the fact that he only took 52 shots at the rim, and he only had 7 shots blocked in his almost three years in Indy.
Further evidence of his tendency to be over-conservative is his 5-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Outside of the occasional quick three, he almost never does anything other than the safe play. Last year, when both he and Jarrett Jack were playing for the Pacers, many called for him to play at the point, because he was less error-prone and had more traditional point guard skills. These things, as we know, are true, but it’s primarily because, temperamentally, he’s the polar opposite of Jack. Jarrett was always trying to make something happen, and when he figured out how to work that within Jim O’Brien’s offense (and now, apparenty, in Toronto), lots of good stuff happened at the price of the occasional cringe-worthy play. Travis never pushes the envelope and is more concerned about not making a mistake.
In a situation like Portland’s, that will be fine. Also, in short minutes (I wouldn’t use him for more than 15 minutes a night), that particular attribute never really hurts you. However, when forced to play longer minutes in Indiana, the defenses became content to let the ball remain in his hands. Though he has the handles and passing skill to be a playmaker, he lacks the temperament, and he never forces the defense out of it’s comfort zone. Unless he has one of his 3-point binges (meaning he hits two or three in a row), he’s not a threat offensively.
Defensively, he’s willing, but somewhat slow-footed and very weak physically. He doesn’t create turnovers, either with his hands or in passing lanes. He’s smart, and he’ll minimize mistakes, but he’s exploitable.
Lastly, he has a really hot girlfriend/wife and a gawdawful beard.