Posts Tagged ‘point guards’

First things first: Happy Birthday, Shaq. We’re gonna talk about point guards today. You and Penny should’ve stayed together, man.

Point Guards run the offense, but right now the best ones are running the NBA and dominating debate on who’s number one. While East Coasters praise Deron Williams and Rajon Rondo as the league’s best, and everyone else claims Chris Paul as numero uno, I’m here to point out something that has somehow slipped under the radar of basketball talking heads this year: DERRICK ROSE IS THE REIGNING MVP! Oh, and the Bulls have the best record in the NBA. He put the team on his back again Sunday, but he was still overshadowed by other point guard performances around the league.

Deron Williams put up 57 Sunday (!), but keep in mind that it was against the lowly Charlotte Bobcats. And, Rondo needed overtime against the Knicks to assemble that monstrous triple double. Is Danny Ainge serious about trading him? That would be about as dumb as the time he got up in MJ’s face during the ’92 Finals…

The Big O revolutionized the position, but it used to be that you had to have a dominant center to win championships. Magic, still the undisputed best point guard of all-time, had Kareem. It wasn’t until Isiah won twice with his misfit centers and Jordan and the Bulls won six with the likes of Bill Cartwright, Will Perdue, Luc Longley and Big Bill Wennington that teams started to restructure the way they looked at the draft and the way they handled free agency to accommodate this shift in roster power. Teams started to build around game-changing point guards. The 76ers put all their eggs in the Iverson basket (and then subsequently turned him into an off guard). Steve Nash won two MVPs with the Suns (and burned out in the playoffs every year), shoot-first Chauncey Billups led the 2004 rag tag Pistons to a title. Frenchman Tony Parker was 2007’s Finals MVP.

Now we’re in an age where the debate rages on as to who is the NBA’s best point guard. Don’t get it twisted: an argument can be made for any of the clear-cut top five. The order in which they are arranged is the topic of discussion. Right now, D-Rose is on pace to become the greatest point guard, not of his era, but of all-time. He was the youngest MVP ever last year. He’s only 23 and in only his fourth season. His potential and unrelenting will to win put him in a class by himself. Some of the shots and layups he has the audacity to not only attempt but then hit are nothing short of spectacular on a regular basis. He hasn’t won a championship (yet), something only Rondo has done out of the group of point guards I’m bringing up in this column. Just to clarify, here’s how my current list of Top 5 NBA Point Guards looks:

5. Chris Paul: Honestly, I can’t stand this guy. The first time I ever saw him play in a game at Wake Forest, he cheap shot punched some kid in the nuts. Not cool, man. Not cool. That turn of events sort of stuck with me as he ascended to the NBA’s upper echelon of point guards. I only have him on this list because I have to. Fuck Lob City. 19.7 PPG, 8.3 APG, 3.5 RPG, 2.2 SPG Clippers are 22-14.

4. Russell Westbrook: With Kevin Durant on his side, these two have an opportunity to make Oklahoma City a legitimate contender for years to come. Westbrook’s play is a bit sporadic at times, but there’s no denying his explosiveness. A rare breed and lots of potential to stay on this list for years to come. 23.7 PPG, 5.5 APG, 4.9 RPG, 1.7 SPG Thunder are 30-8.

3. Rajon Rondo: He has the heart of a champion, and that’s something I infinitely respect. Arguably, the best defender on this list, his creativity on the offensive side of the ball has allowed him to spread touches amongst The Big Three and keep them happy since their arrival in Boston. The lone NBA Champion on this list. 14.3 PPG, 10.2 APG, 5.4 RPG, 1.7 SPG Celtics are 19-17

2. Deron Williams: It’s too bad things turned out the way they did for him in Utah. Jerry Sloan could have shown him a thing or two. He seems stuck on a crappy New Jersey team now, but that sort of gives him the unparalleled opportunity to prove himself as a leader and a winner. However, since he left Illinois, I haven’t really seen either of those characteristics from him. His combination of strength, court vision, scoring ability, speed, passing prowess and ability to take over any given game make him number two though. 22.6 PPG, 8.2 APG, 3.5 RPG, 1.1 SPG Nets are 12-26. Ouch.

1. Derrick Rose: Stacey King exclamations and Chicago bias aside, Derrick Rose is the youngest MVP in league history. None of the other members on this list have been MVP. Derrick Rose not only tops this list, but he defines the criteria of what a point guard, a leader should be. Who do you want on your team leading the way? The will to win, loyalty to team and the ability to takeover when need be (as he did Sunday in Philly and in the 2nd half last night against those annoying Pacers). Derrick has stated time and time again that he is about one thing, and that’s winning games and eventually a championship here in Chicago. 22.4 PPG, 7.7 APG, 3.3 RPG, 0.9 SPG Bulls are NBA best 32-8.

Who’s with me?

Ed’s note.
I am. 

And he's better than these guys too.

Hypothesis

I don’t know many who still fly the banner for Chris Paul in this debate. I know the creator of the recently departed Free Darko does. I’m sure a few at ESPN do as well. I usually avoid Sportcenter when I can. I don’t really need useless insight to validate what I feel as a fan. Their format has become too much flash for me, I need more substance. I don’t need a useless debate show format to get it either. ESPN has become a caricature of what it used to be, but that’s for another day.

Derrick has yet to implement the array of tools that even an older Chris Paul has at his disposal. Rose’s court vision could use improvement, he could become a better on the ball defender, he could learn a thing or two about ball control from a younger Chris Paul, but that’s the thing, we aren’t looking at a younger Chris Paul anymore. We are watching a Chris Paul that disappeared late in the game against the Heat. We are looking at a Chris Paul that has a busted knee and limited lift. Yes, this version of CP3 had an outstanding game. It was a glimpse into the past, when Chris Paul could make the argument for being the league’s most valuable player and he was without a doubt the best point guard in the league.

Derrick Rose is now better than Chris Paul. I’ll even take it the extra step and say Derrick Rose is a better point guard than Chris Paul. If you want your world to be defined by rigidity, where the point guard passes and gets assists, then yes, I can see why someone would try to make the argument that Chris Paul is better at the 1.

It’s just not true anymore. This is a different NBA world we occupy. Derrick Rose is just better.

Analytics

These usually provide a dual edged sword here, but we can attempt to contextualize some numbers here.

The simple numbers tell you that Rose is a better scorer, and Paul is a better distributor. This passes the eye test as well. Rose is scoring 20.7 ppg. and 8.6 apg. Chris Paul is at 16.1 ppg. and 8.8 apg.

Paul is also getting 2 more steals per game than Rose, and is leading the league in steals. The difference in assists isn’t that great, and the gulf in points seems bigger than it actually is. Rose is the better scorer, but Paul is the more efficient player. CP3 is putting up an amazing FG percentage right now. Rose isn’t quite the efficient scorer Paul is. His FG% can be seen here.

What you’ll also see on 82games is the Off. number and Def. number. These represent how many points per possession their team allows when that player is on the floor. Paul’s Off number is 1.14, meaning per 100 possessions Paul’s Clippers will score 114 points when he’s out there. Rose’s Off number is 1.1, which translates to 110 points per possession when Rose is on the floor. This number is a lot smaller than I anticipated. Take into account that Paul is dishing to Blake Griffin in a wide open offense and Derrick’s second option is a heavy footed PF who shoots fade-a-ways. I didn’t think the Bulls would be that close to the Clippers. The Def. rating is very misleading in this case, Rose has a .95 while Paul is at 1.11. This has more to do with the team defense than anything, but something can be said for Paul losing a step and a half post surgery.

What you can also see in the numbers is a validation of what your eyes tell you. Chris Paul takes jumpers while Rose drives for layups more often. Paul attempts a jump shot 78% of the time. Rose, 64%. CP3 attempts a close shot 22% of the time. Rose, 35%.

Conclusions

Paul is the more efficient scorer, but more efficient doesn’t always equal better. In the case of Paul, he is working with an offensively superior team. His second option is much better than the Bulls second option. He is perhaps the smarter point guard, but at this stage in his career, Rose is the better player. Rose is upping the offensive value of his teammates. 1.1 points per possession is not a small number, and we wouldn’t exactly call the Bulls an offensively savvy team. So what gives with the small gap between the Clippers and Bulls from an offensive standpoint? Lob City was supposed to be Showtime on steroids.

Derrick Rose maximizes the talent on the Bulls, and perhaps that comes with playing together for so long. It’s his drives to the basket and willingness to score that separates him from Paul. CP3 is a distributor, but he is now behind Rose in the PG battle, and will stay there. He had an amazing game, but don’t forget that Paul disappeared late in that game and was clearly inferior to Rose in their previous match-up this season.