Are points guards needed to win NBA titles?
Multi-talented Roar expert Ryan O’Connell penned an article a few weeks ago about the greatest NBA players (in his opinion) of the last 30 years.
Like most of Ryan’s articles, it prompted some fantastic posts in response, but also made me think a bit deeper about these players and their teams, specifically, what made Championship winning teams a success.
Of course, having a superstar player helps.
Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Tim Duncan are all-time greats.
But taking that a bit further as to what makes a Championship-winning team, I came to a startling conclusion: you don’t need a point guard.
Point guards are the quarterbacks, the number sevens (or nines if you’re Brett McKay!), the maestros who conduct the offensive orchestra.
They control the ebb and flow of the game, adept at making decisions on the break, or setting up a half-court offence.
Ordinarily, it is probably considered the most important position on the court, the ‘coach on the floor’.
But if that’s the case, why have the most talented ‘traditional’ point guards had such limited success when it comes to Championships?
In the last 30 years, the only pure point guards to have won NBA rings have been Magic, Jason Kidd and Rajon Rondo.
All average close to ten assists per game. Sure, Magic was somewhat of an anomaly, but he was certainly a pass-first player.
The other teams to win had somewhat underwhelming “point guards”, in the traditional sense.
Celtics had Dennis Johnson, Bulls had the triumvirate of Hodges, Paxon and Armstrong (and Ron Harper defending point guards later on).
Lakers had Derek Fisher, the Spurs Tony Parker. All fine players, but certainly not in the Bob Cousy class when it comes to playmaking. This got me thinking, are point guards that important?
In modern times, we see players becoming more multi-skilled, they are bigger, faster and stronger, so it makes sense, if you have a good enough big man who can pass, to run the offense through them (like LeBron).
Also impacting on the statistic is the fact the Phil Jackson has been so successful in this period.
Running the triangle offence negates the need for a pure point guard. It favours big guards who can see over defenders, good passing from your post players, and wingmen to hit open shots off ball rotation.
So Roarers, in this age of multi-talented supertars, will the traditional point guard go the way of the rugby league scrum?