The All Alphabet league presents a double header, today.
Shooting Guard – Mitch Richmond
Oft maligned as the perfect example of the Hall of Fame becoming the Hall of Very Good, Mitch Richmond is perhaps unfairly maligned by pundits, these days. He's also seen as the emblem for the veteran ring chaser, after picking up his only ring in his final season, playing a bit part on the 2002 Lakers.
To be frank, that's not fair to Richmond, who enjoyed a stellar 14 year NBA career, not scoring less than 16 point per game until that final season. The Rock (Dwayne Johnson should be paying Mitch royalties) made his living putting the ball in the hoop, firstly as a member of the legendary Run TMC trio in Golden State, then as the main man in Sacramento and Washington.
Richmond was a dead eye shooter, who regularly launched his gorgeous jumper from deep in an era where the 3 point line was still looked upon with suspicion. He was an assassin from the mid range, combining to form a deadly combination with Tim Hardaway. He was also a ready and willing driver, using his thick upper body to absorb contact and finish at the cup.
He scored 21 points per game over his career, shooting 38.8% from deep and 85% from the free throw line. Throw in 3.5 assists and 1.2 steals per game, and it's clear that Mitch Richmond was no slouch.
Richmond appeared in 6 All Star games, and was named to All NBA teams on 5 occasions. For all the heat he takes from the Bill Simmons' of the world, there are plenty of worse players who have made the Hall.
Small Froward – Brandon Roy
Another victim of The Blazers Curse is Brandon Roy, a baller with the world at his feet, but for his balky knees.
Roy's criminally short career was effectively only 5 seasons long, and he was only healthy for three of those. Roy came into the league with major question marks over those knees. He was a contender for the first overall pick, but with many teams frightened off by his medical reports, the talented wing fell to the 6th pick, where Minnesota snapped him up, then immediately traded him to Portland.
As a rookie, Roy put up 16.8 points (with 37.7% shooting from deep), 4 boards, 4 assists and over a steal per game. The problem is he only played 57 games – those knees again.
In the three seasons that followed, Roy missed a far more reasonable 29 games total. He was wonderful; a nightly 20/5/5 with excellent shooting splits and great defense. He was an All Star in all 3 campaigns and picked up a pair of All NBA awards. At the age of 25, he was ready to take over the league.
Unfortunately, that was as good as it got for Roy. He only played 47 games the next season and his production plummeted. He was simply unable to get on the court consistently, and when he did play, his explosiveness was sapped. Sadly, he retired at the end of that season, at the age of 26.
Roy did make a short comeback attempt two seasons late, appearing in 5 games for the Wolves, but he was a shadow of his best self, and quickly aborted the mission.
Brandon Roy could do it all. A late game killer with the ability to fill it up all over the floor, play make for others, and defend multiple positions, a healthy Roy could have finished his career as an all time great. Instead, he's another poster child for what might have been.