Phil Pressey has just three more preseason games to prove his worth in an already crowded, talented Trail Blazer backcourt. Many have doubted him from the get-go, noting him as Portland’s odd man out. What many aren’t saying is that he has a realistic chance to snag himself a roster spot in Rip City, and it’s true.
Phil Pressey, son of former NBA player Paul Pressey, was signed as a free agent by the Boston Celtics after going undrafted in the 2013 NBA Draft. Thanks to his solid skills that surround the point guard position and his notable potential, Pressey seems to always find himself on a NBA roster come the start of the regular season. As one of the youngest teams in the NBA looking to reemerge into the postseason after a year or two of development, you would think Pressey, with his strong passing ability, would be a shoo-in member of the new look Portland Trail Blazers. Unfortunately for him, he is battling for a roster spot on a team that is already packed with high-potential backcourt talent. Damian Lillard is the clear leader in this backcourt with C.J. McCollum and Tim Frazier expecting to take a large bulk of minutes at the PG. So where does that leave Pressey? It leaves him with something to prove in the coming weeks.
The five-foot-eleven-inch Missouri alum has displayed a mixed bag of performances thus far as a Trail Blazer. His ability to score is virtually nonexistent, which may very well cost him a roster spot. Pressey is shooting .188 from the field and is without a single three-pointer made since the beginning of the preseason. On the flipside, Pressey has a knack for racking up the assists, the main job of a traditional point guard. Pressey is currently averaging the second-most amount of assists on the team through four preseason games. However, is the emergence of McCollum and his newfound ability to throw some absolute dimes threatening Pressey’s spot on the roster?
It’s not to say that Pressey doesn’t have PG talent, because he absolutely does. If you’ve watched him play this preseason, you’ve seen some great passes from Pressey, albeit you’ve likely seen some poor decisions and shots as well. It’s more as to say that he may just be the odd man out. I find it very unlikely that the Trail Blazers go four-deep at the point guard position, the one spot on the roster where we already have solidified superstar. Now if Portland is open to that idea, he’ll be suiting up in the black, red, and silver all season long. But if they decide that the cap at the PG position is three, it’s going to be tough start to the season for Pressey.
Lillard is obviously untouchable. McCollum, who I had always considered an undersized shooting guard, not a point guard, has impressed me this preseason with his buttery-smooth passing and court vision. I’m not completely convinced that he is a dependable PG quite yet, though at this point I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. More importantly, Head Coach Terry Stotts is convinced that McCollum is fully capable of playing either guard position. I guess a little offseason training with two-time MVP Steve Nash doesn’t hurt!
This positional battle for the final point guard roster spot comes down to Phil Pressey and 2015 D-League MVP Tim Frazier. Truthfully, the odds are against Pressey. Frazier, though only seeing playing time in five NBA games last season, has done enough to prove himself as a valuable asset both on and off the court. In a season that will be based on emergence and development, it can be fairly assumed that Frazier will consistently find his way onto the court after a very impressive D-League stint last season. His skill set is very balanced, he just needs playing time to refine and polish those skills. Off the court, Frazier is a locker room personality that coaches dream of. Funny, laid-back, and gets along well with the entire team. This leaves Pressey with an uphill battle for a spot on the Trail Blazers.
Pressey’s inability to score might just be the reason why he could potentially be left off the 2015-2016 Portland Trail Blazers roster. Whether or not Pressey will secure himself a roster spot will be largely decided over the next three preseason games. Keep a close eye on Pressey as I’ll be expecting to see a huge surge in passion and effort in the coming preseason games for the 24-year-old point guard. It’s now or never for Phil Pressey with his NBA career potentially on the line.