Thursday, May 17, 2007

Player Report Card: Steve Blake

(Boulder-CO) Steve Blake joined the Nuggets just before the midway point in the season and was instantly placed into the starting line-up. It was a position that he was just becoming stable with in Portland before the Blazers shipped him to Milwaukee at the end of the 2005-06. However, after moving up to Wisconsin Blake was right back on the bench and playing just better than 17 minutes per game and was averaging his worst numbers of his career in the first 33 games of last season. So, obviously at this point when the phone rang and Steve got the news that he was traded to the Nuggets to pair up with Allen Iverson he was probably pretty excited about his potential in Denver.

Stevie B started 40 of the 49 games he was with the Nuggets and finished last season’s campaign with the best numbers of his four-year career. Talk about a turnaround, Steve played more minutes per game than ever before and his production skyrocketed to 8.3 points, 6.6 assists, and 2.5 rebounds. He was partially the starter because of the Andre Miller trade for AI and the Earl Boykins deal that landed him in Denver which left the Nuggets not having any other guards that could fit the bill, but nevertheless, those reasons do not take away from what Blake did for this team on such short notice. But is Steve the point guard of the future for the Nuggets? My answer to that question is an emphatic no!

Steve Blake may have had a very nice year for the Nuggets, but it is impossible to make the upgrade to elite team when Denver’s starting point guard happens to be the least talented, (not that he doesn‘t have talent), and/or least confident of the other four starters. The game of basketball just doesn’t work like that unfortunately and a team’s starting point guard must be an extension of the head coach on the floor with his confidence and calm. Two categories of which Steve Blake needs a major boost in.

But don’t get me all wrong here.

I still like Steve Blake’s overall game very much. He is a very safe ball handler and typically makes the correct play when it is there. My only problem is that he doesn’t command the team as a whole with the sense of confidence it needs to be commanded with. And you can’t blame him for that because with names like Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson, Marcus Camby, Nene, and the always dynamic Kenyon Martin returning it is going to take a proven veteran to take charge of that cast of characters. And I’m talking about the personality of a true veteran in every sense of the word. A guy who the long list of aforementioned characters respect and trust to command this team in the clutch when there are no timeouts and the game’s outcome in the balance. And that Nuggets Nation is not a knock on Steve Blake, but rather just the harsh reality of what it takes to start at point guard on a team that is trying to make the push into the upper echelon of the NBA.

With all that said I would love for the Nuggets to keep Stevie B for next season’s campaign as long as he can understand the greater goal of this team and realize his role within that greater concept. Everyone who follows this team knows that Blake is looking for a mid-level contract of about 5 million dollars for next season and the Nuggets can just not afford that for the services of Steve Blake. Now I understand that he has a family and needs to make the best financial decision for their futures, but sacrifices have to be made for things larger than immediate gains and if Steve Blake happens to be one of those sacrifices… c’est la vie.


Unknown said...

Nugg Doctor, once again coming through with the proper player analysis!

I like Steve Blake, I really do. But for 35 minutes per game? As a starter? NO WAY! We have to upgrade this position in the offseason. We either need a strong, bigger combo guard that can share point guard duties alongside AI in the starting line-up, or we need a solid veteran traditional point guard that can get the ball to the other guys!

Who that person is, I have no idea! I know Chucky Atkins is a Free Agent and has expressed desire to come to Denver, but...he is a very small guard to pair with the already small AI. I for one am pulling for a Camby for Chauncey Billups trade!! That would be a dream for this team and city, but it won't happen.

Unfortunately, Steve Blake is not the guy to be starting alongside AI. Yes, as a backup, I would love to keep him, but not for 5mil per year!! So if that is his asking price, then see ya!

Nugg Doctor said...

Your obviously thinking very closely along the lines that I have been thinking since the Nuggets were bounced by the Spurs. Stay tuned for how I think the Nuggets can make the next big push to go deeper in the playoffs than they have in the last decade!

Thanks for reading,

The Nugg Doctor