Welcome to the first installment of "Blaze to Glory"! For my first several blogs I will be doing player reviews for the players I think will make the roster. If I leave someone out who you would like me to review let me know. I am starting from the "bottom" of the roster with 12-year pro Earl Watson.
There are a lot of positive thoughts and feelings that surround Earl Watson. He isn’t the biggest or the strongest or even the most prolific player in the NBA, but he is “good enough”. If you are a stats fan, then you know that he isn’t someone who is going to 'wow' you from the box score. Over a 12 year career in the NBA, Watson is sitting at 6.5 points per game and 4.5 assists per game. That is not the type of PG we have become accustomed to, especially with the emergence of Damian Lillard. Regardless, Watson has not been trying to be your typical PG. He wants to help his team win in any way possible. He’ll fight for loose balls, he’ll pass on knowledge to the starters, he comes in to slow down the offense and sure up the defense.
His career shooting from 3-Point land is at a solid 32.4%, but if you just look at the percentage you are missing the big picture. He doesn’t shoot that many 3 pointers anymore. At the peak of his career he was shooting 100 or more per season. In a sparse role the last two seasons with the Jazz he only took a combined 80 three point shots. His Free Throw Percentage is a slightly below average at 70.2%, which isn’t bad, but you need and want someone who is going to help your team in all areas.
Now, I’ve been harping on Watson a bit, but I do love his game. He isn’t trying to be flashy or in your face. He quietly goes about his business on and off the court. He isn’t in Portland to get playing time and show the world he still has a lot left in the tank after all these years. Watson is in Portland to mentor and teach Lillard, CJ McCollum and the other young Blazer guards how to behave and handle themselves in the game and in the community.
Unfortunately for Watson’s sake, his potential minutes took a huge hit when the Blazers signed Mo Williams. Williams and Watson played together last year in Utah, where the Jazz had Williams start and play an average of 30 minutes while Earl played around 17 minutes a game. Combine Lillard’s starting minutes and Williams’ bench minutes and you get a dwindling number of minutes for Watson, who may only see “garbage time” minutes. All in all, Watson will be a great addition to the Blazers roster, even if it’s behind the scenes to all of us fans. You’ll probably hear Mike Barrett, Mike Rice and Brian Wheeler rave about Watson, but we may not get to see him often or at all depending on coach Terry Stotts’ plan for the team.