Sunday Brandon Roy was in Dallas taking part in his third All-Star Weekend. A lingering hamstring injury kept him off the court, but it doesn’t diminish the substantial achievement: Roy is the first Blazer since Clyde Drexler to be selected to three straight All-Star teams. Now, The Glide was my boyhood hero. As such, he sets the gold standard for all subsequent Trail Blazer wings. Drexler slashed, defended, floated, glided, and led Portland to the finals—twice. While he was a Blazer (1983-94), the team never missed the playoffs. Clyde was an original member of the Dream Team, a 10 time all star, the Western Conference’s answer to Michael Jordan, an NBA Champion (albiet with the Rockets), a first ballot Hall of Fame selection and named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. These acolades shape the lens through which I view all Trail Blazer wings. Drexler’s greatness tints how I look at Portland’s new three time All-Star, Brandon Roy.
Now when talking about legends like Drexler and how they might compare to the stars of today, the conversation cannot be based on raw box score statistics alone. The Drexler-era Blazers played at a much faster pace. For instance, the Blazers averaged 103.5 possessions per game through Drexler’s first four seasons according to Basketball-Reference. In contrast, during Roy’s four year tenure, the Blazers averaged just 87.6 possessions per game. If Roy were to play at Drexler’s pace, Roy’s per game statistics last year adjust from 22.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1.1 steals, to 26.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 6 assists, and 1.3 steals. As you can see, these are more Drexler-like numbers. (For more on the issue of pace, Tom Haberstroh of HoopData wrote a great article on the deception of pace last week that does a great job of exploring just how much pace inflates statistics.)