Are points guards needed to win NBA titles?

sledgeross Roar Rookie

By sledgeross, sledgeross is a Roar Rookie

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    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?

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    The Crowd Says (23)

    • July 20th 2013 @ 2:46am
      Johnno said | July 20th 2013 @ 2:46am | ! Report

      Isiah Thomas was a point guard at Detroit.

    • July 20th 2013 @ 9:40am
      Jake said | July 20th 2013 @ 9:40am | ! Report

      Wow. Good article until;

      “underwhelming point guards” and then Tony Parker mentioned. Surely you jest?!?

      • July 24th 2013 @ 8:18am
        sledgeross said | July 24th 2013 @ 8:18am | ! Report

        APologies Jake, I was more talking about the Bulls guards, and the rest (like Parker) are not “traditional” PGs, though they are good players in their own right.

    • July 20th 2013 @ 12:42pm
      Mushi said | July 20th 2013 @ 12:42pm | ! Report

      Point guards aren’t really like a qb though as each team runs their offence through different players. Right now the concept of a “pure” pg is broken as the rules encourage more of a scoring point guard than just a simple offense initiator.

      The common theme between champion teams is the ability to direct usage to players where they have an advantage it doesn’t need to be a pg.

    • July 20th 2013 @ 10:14pm
      ohtani's jacket said | July 20th 2013 @ 10:14pm | ! Report

      Traditionally, it’s been big men who have been the most important factor in winning a championship. In recent times, that’s shifted from centres to power forwards. Jordan bucked the trend in being the dominant player from a guard position and Lebron has done the same from small forward, but post-Jordan the league had a fixation on building around shooting guards when it as the centres and the power forwards that won the titles.

      The point guards you mentioned were no mugs, though. Generally speaking, anybody who plays on a championship team is no mug. It’s more of a case that the best point guards in the league haven’t been on the strongest teams.

    • July 21st 2013 @ 2:12am
      Laimbrane said | July 21st 2013 @ 2:12am | ! Report

      So I guess Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo, Tony Parker, Chauncey Billups, Isaiah Thomas, and Maurice Cheeks don’t count as pure point guards?

      Do you need one? No. But the same can be said about any position; the Heat won without a dominating big, the Pistons and Spurs won without a dominating forward, and like you said, some teams have won without point guards.

    • July 21st 2013 @ 1:05pm
      Johnno said | July 21st 2013 @ 1:05pm | ! Report

      Dennis Johnson from the Boston Celtics was a wonderful point guard in the 80’s. He was a shooting guard at Seattle, and Phoenix, but played all his time at Celtics as a point guard. Larry Bird said he was the best player he played with, and Magic said he was the best back court defender he played against. Awsome player.

      • July 24th 2013 @ 8:23am
        sledgeross said | July 24th 2013 @ 8:23am | ! Report

        DJ was a great player, but not a top class PG. He was smart and tough and above all a winner, but not a “traditional” 1.

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