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December 9, 2011

Remembering Brandon Roy’s Potential

Filed under: Uncategorized — Neil Paine @ 1:21 pm

Word out of Portland this morning is that Brandon Roy will retire rather than being released by the Blazers under the amnesty provision of the new CBA.

If true, this would be a sad ending to what was once one of the game’s most promising young careers. In the modern era, here are the players with the most WARP in their first three seasons:

Player                  WARP
1. David Robinson       67.0
2. Shaquille O'Neal     62.5
3. LeBron James         53.7
4. Chris Paul           52.1
5. Hakeem Olajuwon      50.2
6. Tim Duncan           50.2
7. Larry Bird           47.9
8. Charles Barkley      46.6
9. Michael Jordan       45.8
10. Magic Johnson       44.5
11. Grant Hill          43.6
12. Penny Hardaway      43.4
13. Andrei Kirilenko    42.1
14. Tim Hardaway        39.7
15. Vince Carter        39.3
16. Elton Brand         37.6
17. Dwyane Wade         37.3
18. Paul Pierce         36.9
19. Steve Francis       36.9
20. Allen Iverson       36.1
21. Dikembe Mutombo     35.0
22. Andre Miller        34.8
23. Kevin Johnson       34.6
24. Terry Cummings      34.3
25. Jeff Ruland         33.8
26. Dwight Howard       33.2
27. Alonzo Mourning     32.5
28. Arvydas Sabonis     32.3
29. Buck Williams       32.2
30. Baron Davis         30.6
31. Isiah Thomas        30.5
32. Kevin Love          30.3
33. Damon Stoudamire    29.6
34. Yao Ming            29.2
35. Mark Jackson        28.9
36. Derrick Coleman     28.7
37. Clark Kellogg       28.6
38. Brandon Roy         28.5
39. Pau Gasol           28.2
40. Jason Kidd          28.1

Of particular note is Roy’s 2009 campaign, when he posted 14.1 WARP (good for 8th in the NBA). This meant that by age 24, he was already arguably the equal of Kobe Bryant (14.2 WARP in ’09), which is precisely why Portland signed him to a 5-year, $80M contract extension prior to the 2009-10 season.

…At which point Roy’s body promptly began breaking down. Slowed by hamstring issues throughout the 2010 season, Roy also tore his right meniscus mere days before the playoffs began. He played 3 ineffective playoff games before shutting down and preparing for a 2010-11 comeback, but that effort was cut to 47 games by soreness in his other knee. Ultimately, Roy had arthroscopic surgery on both knees in 2011 and was only a shell of his former self when he did play, posting an ugly .491 TS% during the regular season and coming off the bench for just 23 MPG during the postseason.

Had he allowed Portland to amnesty him, Roy probably could have offered average (or near-average) production off the bench for a team in need of a reserve SG, but according to ESPN he wants to stay in Portland rather than sign with another team and have to uproot.

Certainly Roy’s story is tragic, but don’t let his incredibly abrupt decline make you forget how good his career path looked before the injuries. Check out this group of 3rd-year guards that put up roughly as many Win Shares as Roy did in 2009:

Player          Season  Age     Tm      G       MP      WS
Derrick Rose    2010-11 22      CHI     81      3026    13.1
Brandon Roy     2008-09 24      POR     78      2903    13.5
Dwyane Wade     2005-06 24      MIA     75      2892    14.4
Vince Carter    2000-01 24      TOR     75      2979    12.9
Penny Hardaway  1995-96 24      ORL     82      3015    14.4
Reggie Miller   1989-90 24      IND     82      3192    12.1
Magic Johnson   1981-82 22      LAL     78      2991    12.9
Sidney Moncrief 1981-82 24      MIL     80      2980    13.4
David Thompson  1977-78 23      DEN     80      3025    12.7
Tiny Archibald  1972-73 24      KCO     80      3681    14.2
Walt Frazier    1969-70 24      NYK     77      3040    15.0

Were it not for his injury problems, Roy was definitely on track to have a special career.

Email Neil at np@sports-reference.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Neil_Paine.

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