Let’s see, Batum goes back into the starting lineup and holds one of the best point guards in the NBA to zero points for almost three quarters. Not all Batum, granted, but the length of his arms, his basketball intelligence, his extensive use of scouting reports, his thirst for game knowledge in general, and of course, his pure basketball abilities helped keep Chris Paul hemmed up and disrupted the Clippers usually pristine pick and role. All of that ended up being for naught as the Blazers imploded late, but that is Raymond Felton’s fault (Kidding, sort of).
The point here is Batum needed to be starting from the beginning of the season and this is my official, “I told you so.”
Last night after arguably one of Felton’s worst games of the season he told CSNNW Chris Haynes that he has never been under a coach that has so little trust in him. He lamented being pulled in and out of the game, and I think, in saying that, he meant he never get’s a chance to get in a rhythm. Now, Dwight Jaynes wrote that it’s hard to feel sorry for a guy saying his coach doesn’t trust him when the guy is starting and playing crucial minutes in the fourth quarter, but I think it’s fair that Felton feels that mistrust.
Nate is notoriously hard on point guards, he was a point guard himself and I have always felt that his incredibly high personal standards as a player have overshadowed his ability to coach the modern point guard. Now, of course, Andre Miller is the exception here and it’s because Miller is a boss who isn’t going to take ‘ish from anyone. Miller has been around too long in this league, and perhaps he’s developed an uncharacteristically thick skin, allowing him to not suck when playing under Nate McMillan. But even those two had it out on that infamous day at the practice facility and Miller never quite “fit” here with McMillan because McMillan wanted too much control, could not trust the veteran point guard that was Andre Miller.
So I have to wonder, if Nate is driving Andre Miller to scream at him during practice, what has he done or is doing to other point guards like Telfair (who sucks anyway), Bayless (so much potential), Jarrett Jack, Nolan Smith, Armon Johnson, Elliot Williams(a 2, but fits here for the demonstrated lack of trust Nate has shown),and/or Sergio Rodriguez (who sucks, too)?
fourth eleventh in the draft, hardly an indicator of future NBA success but he was high on many team’s draft boards and was expected to do well. But once he got to Portland he flamed out, which was not what anyone really expected. I still have nightmares about his turnovers and flat jumpers, it was bad, and when Bayless was on the bench, his anger could be felt in section 323.
Could he have been better if Nate trusted him more and allowed him more opportunities to grow? I don’t know this at all, but it certainly should be considered that Nate is harming these players mentally with lack of trust and something(s) else, because I can’t accept that Nate has nothing to do with these G’s relative failures here in Portland. All but a few have of the guys mentioned have gone on to play on teams in the NBA with relative productivity and success. Felton’s indication that Nate doesn’t trust him speaks volumes to me about most of the point guards’ here in Portland collective issues.
In the end, it’s easy to blame Nate. I talked to one writer in Philadelphia who said Felton misses home. If that is true, I accept that excuse only because I know some players really have a hard time away from family, but then again, this is the NBA and Felton is not a 18 year old rookie.
The fact that Felton is placing some of his struggles on the coach doesn’t bode well for all around team chemistry, and regardless if Nate really is ruining point guards with a lack of trust and impossibly high standards, maybe Felton talking about it to the press will help Nate loosen up a little bit. Or maybe it will make it all worse.
During this season for the Blazers, not one of us really knows.
Sophia Brugato | @sophiabiabia | firstname.lastname@example.org
Edit: I originally wrote Bayless was selected fourth in the draft, but he was selected eleventh.