The Myth of the Point Guard

Question – What do the following NBA current and former stars have in common:

Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Tim Duncan, Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O’Neal, David Robinson, and Hakeem Olajuwon?

Answer: NONE are point guards.

All of the fellows were THE stars on the NBA Championship teams over the past 18 season, and none of them were or are point guards. Going back before that, we can add the name Michael Jordan, and he also, was no a point guard. I have omitted THE star(s) from the 2003-2004 season, when the Detroit Pistons, featuring an ensemble group of “star” players including a point guard, Chauncey Billups, won the title.

What is evident from this, as that while pundits love to proclaim that the NBA is a point guard league, and winning teams MUST have THE best point guard in creation if they are to have a chance to win a title, they are clearly wrong. The idea of giving up a team of talent, such as the likes of Lamar Odom AND Pau Gasol, or even Chris Kaman and Eric Gordon and another good player and a number one draft choice, is patently absurd, as the path to a title involves much more than that one guy passing the ball. If it were so, would not the Clippers – with not just Chris Paul but also with Chauncey Billups, Mo Williams, and Eric Bledsoe – be the heavy favorite to win it all this season?

Last year, Dallas won the title in large part despite the barely adequate play of then 37-year-old Jason Kidd. The two years before last, the title was won by the Lakers with the energetic and clutch, but inconsistent Derek Fisher, whose defense leaves much to be desired and who would have been rated the fifth most important of the five starters on those teams. The year before that, the Celtics won, with their three-star triumvirate of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen. Second year point guard Rajon Rondo was universally considered the weak link in their starting five. San Antonio won the title two of the preceding three years, and their star was clearly Tim Duncan, and in the intervening year, the Heat won with shooting guard Dwyane Wade and that big guy O’Neal leading the way. Need I go on?

This is not to say that point guards are not important, but didn’t the Bulls several years ago prove that with the right guys at other spots, anybody could play the point for a championship team?

So, more power to the Clippers with their slew of point guards, including the oh-so coveted Mr. Paul, but as the season begins, the overpowering favorite to win it all is Miami, who, when last I looked, have a starting five where the point guard ranks right near the bottom in importance, experience, and most importantly, reliance.

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