You’ve got a chance to draft a star point guard and make him the face of your franchise. He’ll easily be as good as Chris Paul. He’ll be as big as Deron Williams. He’ll be as athletic as Derrick Rose. He’ll do a little bit of everything like Rajon Rondo.
Would you build your team around this player?
Seems like a no-brainer, but the more I think about the NBA and what it takes to win, I don’t think I’d be willing to build any team around a point guard. The game just doesn’t work that way anymore if you want to win titles.
What’s odd is the league is currently set up to benefit point guards. Look around and you see so many floor generals putting up insane statistics and making highlight reels. You literally can’t (hand) check them on the floor because it’s against the rules. Giving small guys with otherworldly quickness and dexterity this kind of freedom allows them to get to the middle of the floor and do what they do best -- make plays for their teammates or themselves.
And yet, the idea of building your franchise around a point guard scares me.
I’m a fan of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (I’ll wait for your laughter to subside.)
The team I love is essentially waiting for Ricky Rubio to be its savior. But is that even a possibility? Regardless of the potential problems involved in fitting his skill set into the Wolves’ current halfcourt system, it’s hard to believe Rubio can truly lead them to the NBA Finals, even if he can maximize his potential. It just doesn’t seem to happen that way. The Wolves would still need consistent, competent big men to rule the paint and really dynamic scorers on the wing.
If some of the most talented point guards to ever play the game (Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Steve Nash) have never really come that close to winning an the NBA title, how is someone like Rubio or Rose or John Wall supposed to finally break through?
Let’s take a look back at the starting point guards on championship-winning teams over the past 20 years:
- Derek Fisher (fiver times)
- Rajon Rondo (fourth option on the team)
- Tony Parker (three times)
- Jason Williams
- Chauncey Billups
- Avery Johnson
- Ron Harper (three times)
- Kenny Smith (two times)
- B.J. Armstrong
- John Paxson (two times)
While there are some very good players on this list, it’s not exactly a Murderer’s Row of all-time point guards. Other than Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas, you can’t really find many point guards in the past few generations of NBA players that were able to lead their team to the title.
Fisher had Kobe, Pau and Shaq. Rondo had three Hall of Fame players taking the brunt of the workload. Parker had Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. Jason Williams had … well … a lot of guys on that team ahead of him.
The one possible outlier is Billups, who was named Finals MVP in 2004 and helped the Pistons regain some glory. But was that Pistons team really built around him? Wasn’t it essentially built around Ben Wallace, defensive prowess and buoyed by the midseason acquisition of Rasheed Wallace? Billups ended up being their best player for a few season, but it’s hard to confidently say he was the focal point of those teams.
Ultimately, size still matters most in this league. The Lakers and Celtics had huge frontcourts with a lot of versatility in their recent title seasons. Duncan is probably the best power forward of all time (unless he’s a center, a power center, or a center-forward) and had David Robinson alongside him for a pair of titles. Shaq was still Shaq for his four rings.
You can have a point guard, and even the best point guard, but as Jazz and Hornets fans can see, it doesn’t always get you where you want to go. It seems to me building around the best point guards can be a fun thing to give your fans, but I don’t know it will ever be what they truly want.
I hope this new generation of NBA point guards bucks the trend.