Roy ignores the NBA hype

Trail Blazer rookie's summer performance has league talking
by: , The Trail Blazers' Brandon Roy faces the pressure of expectation as the team heads toward training camp.

'The slashing (Brandon) Roy was outrageous. The crowd basically handing him the Rookie of the Year trophy after an exceptional first half.'

- Tom Kertes, writing for the New York Knicks' Web site, on the Entertainers' Basketball Classic at Rucker Park this summer

'It goes beyond numbers. Roy has a vibe, a poise and an aura that screams star … both Roy and (Randy) Foye will be terrific pros, but Roy is a cut above. Simple as that. … he will probably win Rookie of the Year this year … and go down as the signature player from this draft.'

-NBA TV's Rick Kamla, from Las Vegas Summer League

Such accolades may not be easy to live up to, considering the opening of the Trail Blazers' training camp is still a week away and he hasn't yet stepped onto a court as an NBA player. But Brandon Roy isn't getting bogged down by others' expectations.

'I'm getting excited for it all to start, but I know I'm a rookie who still has a lot to learn,' the former University of Washington All-American says. 'I'm not going to worry about what anybody is saying about me.'

Well, except for Nate McMillan, Portland's second-year coach, who hints that Roy's versatility may play into a bench role early this season.

'It's too early to say he definitely won't start,' McMillan says. 'There are a lot of positions open going into camp. What you try to do is see what combinations work well together.

'But Roy can play with Martell (Webster), he can play with (Jarrett) Jack, he can play with (Juan) Dixon in the backcourt. Once we get into camp, we'll have to see how everything turns out.'

Roy would love to be a starter, but he won't have a problem with whatever role his coach envisions.

Coming off the bench 'would be fine,' Roy says. 'My goal is to come in here and do whatever Coach McMillan sees fit. He's a great coach and will guide me toward what's best for my career. I've never played in this league. I have to trust that he'll help me become a better player.'

Roy was as good as anybody at the Las Vegas Summer League. The Seattle native averaged 19 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists in five games while shooting .647 from the field (.667 on 3s).

The 6-6, 210-pound Roy also handled his role as point guard - he played shooting guard for the Huskies - with aplomb. McMillan, however, is mindful of the competition at summer league.

'He showed he can play with the ball some. He's under control. He made good decisions with the ball,' McMillan says. 'But that's summer league. He won't face the majority of those guards in the NBA. For me to get a true read on him, it starts in the preseason, when he goes up against guards he'll be seeing during the regular season.'

Roy has had an eventful two months since summer league ended in mid-July. He rented a house in West Linn, big enough for his parents, Gina and Tony, and his siblings (Ed, 24, and Jaamela, 19) to stay when they come for visits.

'My parents want to come down right away and see my place,' Roy says with a laugh. 'They're still being parents. But I've been on my own for a couple of years. They trust me to do the right things.'

Roy also spent some time in New York - for an NBA rookie photo shoot, the annual Rucker Park tournament and the NBA's six-day Rookie Transition Program.

Thirty-four of the league's top rookies got together for a seven-hour photo shoot at the Knicks' practice facility that included autograph stations and a three-TV setup for NBA Live '07.

'It was a chance to spend time with all the rookies, including my teammate at Washington, Bobby Jones (now with Philadelphia),' Roy says.

The Rucker event in Harlem is an annual summer excursion that has been the city's premier playground event for 50 years. Knick guard Nate Robinson put together a Seattle team that featured Roy, Jamal Crawford, Jamaal Williams and UW freshman center Spencer Hawes. That group lost in the finals to a New York team led by Rafer Alston.

'They had the homecourt advantage working, for real,' Roy says. 'But it was an incredible experience. They play on a regular outdoor cement court, and there are holes in the floor they don't fix. It's real live street ball. At first, I was worried about getting hurt. But you get on the floor, the lights go on and there are thousands of people watching. And the fans really loved us.'

All rookies are required to attend the transition program, held this year at the IBM Center in Manhattan. They are schooled in professional and life skills, and player and personal development.

'The biggest message was to carry yourself as a professional on and off the court,' Roy says. 'It was fun and worthwhile, but it was too long - and you don't get to play any basketball, so you can get a little out of shape.'

Roy has spent most of the last two weeks in Portland, working out at the Blazers' training facility with his new teammates.

'We lift weights, shoot with the (assistant) coaches, play some pickup games, do some running on the track with (strength and conditioning coach) Bobby Medina,' he says.

McMillan says he has no more of a plan for Roy during the preseason 'than any of the other guys,' the coach says. 'He'll play both guard positions. I like him at the 2 more than the point, because I like an off guard who can handle the ball. We'll try to take advantage of that.'

Roy has already become acclimated to his new city.

'I love Portland,' he says. 'Being from Seattle, I've always heard a lot about the city. I've played in AAU tournaments here since I was a little kid, and I played against Oregon and Oregon State in college. It's great to be on this side for a change. I think I'm going to like it here just fine.'

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