Steve Blake, Point Guard
Final Grade: C
It was a tough season for Los Angeles Lakers veteran point guard Steve Blake, who continuously had to battle through harsh criticism, injuries and a mid-season roster move that put him permanently on the bench squad.
Not only did Blake start the season behind aging veteran Derek Fisher, but was cemented into that backup role after the Lakers made the mid-season acquisition of Ramon Sessions. Even when he was beginning to eclipse Fisher as the Lakers go-to point guard, Sessions came in and immediately took over.
Still, despite all of the adversity, Blake managed to show up when the Lakers least expected it and occasionally delivered the dependable three-point shooting that they’ve been thirsting after for the past few seasons. He showed up in a huge way in Game 7 against the Denver Nuggets, nailing five of his six three-pointers and putting up 19 points to push the Lakers into the conference semifinals. He was also an integral part of the Lakers’ only playoff win against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The inconsistency, however, is what made this a disappointing season for Blake. He finished the season shooting 33.5 percent from long range, his worst percentage since the ’06-’07 campaign. Despite playing about 23 minutes per game, he disappeared at times and scarcely made a noticeable impact for the Lakers. Even when he was inserting into the starting lineup while Kobe Bryant was battling a shin injury, Blake failed to stand out as other players took the spotlight.
What the Lakers also needed this season from the point guard spot was a facilitator who could bolster the passing department night in and night out. They didn’t, however, get that from Blake. He contributed only 3.3 assists per game while giving up 1.36 turnovers per game. Apart from his few big games (five regular season contests with double-digit points), Blake was generally ineffective on the offensive end of the floor.
On top of his offensive inefficiency, Blake also displayed lackluster defense throughout the season. Much like Fisher, he lacked the quickness and agility to stick with younger, speedier point guards. His hustle, scrappiness and tenacity helped at times, but his age hindered his overall ability to make plays on defense.
Blake has been a valuable veteran and bench player for the Lakers over the past two seasons, but his horrid inconsistency from the three-point line has counteracted the majority of his productivity. Considering how big of a weakness beyond-the-arch shooting proved to be throughout the season for the Lakers, Blake is likely to become expendable assuming they find a more-reliable long-range threat this off-season.
Blake improved on his 2010-2011 performance, but still hasn’t panned out as the three-point ace that the Lakers were looking for when they signed him. Had he managed to make those few standout games more of a common occurrence, his future with the Lakers might not look so gloomy. Instead, Blake is just another reminder of the inevitable youth movement that the Lakers’ lineup must undergo.
His 2011-2012 season can be summed up in one shot: the devastating miss in Game 2 against the Thunder. Blake had the opportunity to be the hero for the Lakers, but came up short when it mattered most.