Oct 19, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls point guard Nate Robinson (2) is defended by Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Will Conroy (5) during the second half at the United Center. The Bulls beat the Timberwolves 92-81. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
Pre-2009 Team: Nate Robinson, Brandon Roy & Will Conroy
Post-2009 Team: Isaiah Thomas, Justin Dentmon & Tony Wroten
[table id=10 /]
These will be the premier matchups of the event. Lorenzo Romar and his staff have turned the University of Washington into a point guard powerhouse since Romar took over in 2002.
Conroy was actually an existing player when Romar took over, but he shaped him into the player he is today and was in his prime. The UW all-time assists leader hasn’t spent a lot of time in the NBA, but may go down as one of the most “Romar” players of them all. His motor is non-stop and he always looks to find the best shot possible. He’ll have a height advantage on Thomas if he’s asked to guard him, but expect to see a lot of IT-Nate Rob matchups. The two taller guards may be asked to man the point more often than their more diminutive counterparts.
March 8, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Washington Huskies guard Tony Wroten (14) takes the ball down court during the second half against Oregon State Beavers during the quarter finals of the 2012 Pac 12 Tournament at the Staples Center. Oregon State won 86-84. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Since his arrival in the pros, Wroten has played even more of a combo guard than he did in his one season at Washington. In his limited NBA action, the Grizzlies mostly used Wroten as a shooting guard alongside Mike Conley, though Wroten did find some time at point guard when Conley and Jerryd Bayless needed rests.
The opposite has happened to Thomas, who was mainly a shooting guard at Washington, but has transitioned — quite gracefully, if I may add — to a full-time point guard for the Sacramento Kings. After assuming the starting duties midway through his rookie season, he has yet to relinquish them and looks to be one of the Kings’ most consistent contributors.
The two may revert to their traditional roles for the Alumni Game, however, as I’m sure Robinson will be at the two for the pre-2009 team, and Romar knows the fans want to see Thomas and Robinson duke it out for as long as possible.
The Thomas-Robinson matchup may be challenged by only one other during the game: Brandon Roy against whoever he matches up against. It remains to be seen how much Roy can play, as he’s coming off career-ending surgery, but assuming he gets in the game, it will be interesting to see who steps up and guards the former All-Star. Don’t be surprised if Wroten or Terrence Ross takes the challenge, as both are talented and athletic enough to handle him.
Dentmon adds depth in the backcourt for the post-2009 team, as they will have three guys who can play both guard positions, versus two for the pre-2009 team. Dentmon was one of the most underrated Huskies, as I remember. He played a major role on the team for all four years he was a Husky, eventually averaging 14.4 points per game his senior season.
While the lineup is star studded throughout, the backcourt matchups seem to be the most intriguing. If Roy and Conroy can play like they did back in the glory days, the advantage goes to the pre-2009 squad, but if time has taken a tole (which it shouldn’t have, as both have been playing professionally), then the young guns will be able to take control.
Advantage: Pre-2009 Team