Jan. 05, 2017
The League of the Point Guard
Think about your favorite NBA team. Now, think about why your team has or has not had success. Chances are that your team's success, or lack thereof, is dependent on who is running the show. The NBA has become a point guard driven league, and that is undeniable. The list of today's superstars are stocked with point guards like Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry, Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving, and the newest edition to the point guard family, James Harden.
The list of NBA superstars and team's best players that are point guards goes on and on. Kemba Walker, John Wall, Damian Lillard, and Isaiah Thomas and several others are also playing excellent basketball and leading their teams night in and night out. The point guard is changing this league and the success of the NBA depends on them. However, you don't have to identify as a point guard to play the position. For example, LeBron James, a small forward, has the ball in his hands a tremendous amount for the Cavaliers, and finds himself among the top 5 in assists on a yearly basis. To me, LeBron is most effective as a point guard, and as the most dominant player the league, he furthers the evidence of why the NBA is a point guard's league. Up and coming players like the Giannis "The Greek Freak" Antetokounmpo and number one overall draft pick from LSU, Ben Simmons fit this LeBron James mold as forwards who excel at the point guard position. These two are potential superstars, and they may join a list of superstars already loaded with guys who play the one spot.
This begs the question; is the big man a dying breed in the NBA? As we see teams like the Warriors who play small ball, and other teams trying to implement their style, it's clear the center, or five spot, has a diminished role. It is evident with guys like Greg Monroe of the Milwaukee Bucks, and it was evident in Roy Hibbert's exit from Indiana that teams are shifting towards a small ball style. The days of the league being dominated by the Center, which began with Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain, and was extended by guys like Hakeem Olajuwon, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, and Shaquille O'Neal, seem to be over. Yes, we have a few great Centers in the league today, but they are not comparable to the names I just mentioned, and do not find themselves being discussed in MVP conversations. We have DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Drummond and Hassan Whiteside to name a few, but the difference is that these guys have not been winners, and I do not see it in their future given they stay with their current teams. Dwight Howard is aging and DeAndre Jordan is not a dominant player without his POINT GUARD, Chris Paul. I am well aware of Joel Embiid and Karl Anthony Towns, but guess what, they both handle the ball better than some guards and both like to shoot from deep. They are not traditional centers, and Embiid has been quoted saying that by the end of his career he wants to be a point guard.
There are some tremendous Centers in the league, but are they superstars? They are losing value, and the point guard position is gaining some serious attention. The flashy, gaudy and athletic superstars that are today's point guards are taking off, and leaving the prototypical big man in the rearview mirror.