Monday, May 5, 2014

The Great Point Guard Myth

These players ARE NOT important!
The greatest lie the devil ever told wasn’t convincing the world that he didn’t exist. No, no, no, Lucifer’s best fib was convincing anyone with a higher basketball knowledge in today’s world that guards, in particular point guards, are important to winning a NBA title. You can’t turn on ESPN, TV or radio without hearing talking heads say the same thing over and over again about the NBA. “It’s a point guard driven league.” “Point guard play is so key this time of year.” “You gotta get point great guard play or it’s over.” Every time I hear this I want to punch my laptop.

The NBA is the easiest league to figure out. That’s why it’s not as popular as the NFL. The flexibility and unpredictably of the NFL is what makes it great. Those things, flexibility and unpredictably, make it a better sport to bet on. Anything can happen. The Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons are the ultimate case study. In 2012, both were a combined 24-7, won their divisions AND a playoff game. One year later, 8-26 and now at the top of the NFL Draft!

Teams like Philly and Kansas City are the same in reverse. Loser in 2012, but winners in 2013. The players contracts aren’t guaranteed in the NFL so players can come and go almost exclusively on their production level. Look at someone like Albert Haysworth in the NFL and Amar’e Stoudemire in the NBA. Both 32 years old. (Haysworth now Stoudemire in November) Both have been shot years ago athletically but because Haysworth was in the NFL he was cut and hasn’t even sniffed a field since 2011, while Stoudemire is still sucking the life out of the New York Knicks. (Cut to Knicks fans punching their laptops and Stoudemire putting on a ski mask to pick up his check while Gilbert Arenas drives the getaway car.) If the NFL was like the NBA, Haysworth would STILL HAVE TWO MORE SEASONS OF CHECKS COMING TO HIM. (RE-READ THAT SENTENCE!)

You can rebuild and retool on the fly in the NFL. Every year you can start over and do it again. Every team has a REAL SHOT! You don’t even have to have a first round pick to find a star in the NFL. Look at the Seattle Seahawks. Russell Wilson was a third round pick. You rarely, and I mean RARELY, get a great player outside of the top ten in the NBA Draft, much least the second round. That’s the NFL’s greatest advantage over the NBA. Philly football fans can honestly believe in their team’s chances to win a Super Bowl this season. If you’re a Philly basketball fan and you think the Sixers are going to win the NBA, you need to run outside and check the date on a newspaper because you’ve traveled back in time to 1982.

Going into this NBA season we could identify roughly five teams with a REAL chance at the title (Miami, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Chicago, and Indiana) and ten teams with the same chances as my six-year old son’s youth summer camp team. (LA Lakers, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Boston, Sacramento, Utah, Orlando, New Orleans, Cleveland and Minnesota.) There are only five guys on the court for each team at one time so naturally the eye test works so much easier in the NBA than the NFL.

Is this man on your team? If not, chances are your team WON'T win it all.
I can’t tell you who the best lineman is in the NFL. I just look at whoever gets voted All-Pro and say “Seems right to me.” I don’t need a NBA expert to tell me LeBron James is the best player. You could bring Martians to Earth with no knowledge of the game of basketball, show them the first half of a Miami game, tell them what numbers are, then ask which player was the best and they’d say the tall one in the number six jersey.

Because the number of players is so small, you could swap LeBron in for the following teams and they have a legit chance to winning the title this season; Clippers, Thunder, Bulls, Portland, Houston, Memphis, Washington, Spurs, and Pacers.You could put James on ANY team they’d all win at least 50 games and make the playoffs. Put Peyton Manning on the Jags and the Jags are STILL gonna suck. Look at how the same roster fell apart after he left Cleveland that first season. This isn’t a best point guard wins league, it’s a best PLAYER wins league. The only time the best point guard wins the title is if the best player just HAPPENS to be a point guard. Lets look at the past champions, their starting point guard and see when best point guard wins the title.

2013-12 Heat: The Immortal Mario Chalmers.
2011 Mavs: Jason “I Became A Coach Two Years Later” Kidd.
2009-10 Lakers: Derek “Never Made an All-Star, All-Anything, NBA Team” Fisher
2008 Celtics: Rajon “At The Time I was the weak link” Rondo
2007 Spurs: Tony “Only One All-Star, not as good as I am now” Parker
2006 Heat: Jason “White Chocolate/Flash In Pan” Williams
2005 Spurs: Tony “Not Good Yet” Parker
2004 Pistons: Chauncey “You Didn’t Know I Was An All-Star Yet” Billups
2003 Spurs: Tony “Even Worst” Parker
2002-00 Lakers: Derek “As Good As I’ll Get And STILL Never Be An All-Star” Fisher
1999 Spurs: Avery “The only individual award I’ll win is Coach Of the Year” Johnson
1998-96 Bulls: Ron “Guess What? I never made an All-Star Either” Harper
1995-94 Rockets: Kenny “More famous for being Barkley’s second banana” Smith
1993-91 Bulls: John “Never made an All-Star” Paxton
1990-89 Pistons: Isiah "FINALLY" Thomas

Magic and Isiah. Last of the great point guards to win NBA Championship

I had to go ALLLL the way back to 1990 for the last “best point guard in the league” NBA title. (And Isiah being the best is debatable cause Magic was still Magic so the best point guard may have not even WON the title those seasons.) And the last best player being a point guard title was the 1988 Lakers with Magic. Having a great point guard is about as important as having a “great” pinky toe. You technically need one, but you’ll live without it.

There is one way to win a title. Have one of the five best players in the league at the time, PLUS at least one active “I can make or made” an All-Star teammate. Jordan was the best but had Pippen. Shaq was the best but had Kobe. Kobe was the best but had Pau. LeBron is the best, but has Wade & Bosh.
Serious how the hell did the Mavs win the 2011 title?
Only the 1994 Houston Rockets had the best player do it solo. The 2004 Detroit Pistons were aliens. (Hindsight shows us that Detroit had four All-Stars in Billups, Hamilton, Wallace Ben and Rasheed both that is. But they still should not have been able to win.) And the 2011 Dallas Mavericks themselves still can’t believe they won. 

They didn’t have the best player or an active All-Star sidekick. Dirk was an All-Star but wasn’t even a top five in the league guy at the time. I still have NO clue how they won that title over Miami. You can’t say 2008 Celtics didn't have a top five guy because KG finished second in the MVP so he was clearly one of the five best players.

This isn’t rocket science. This is as easy as it gets. We don’t need to waste time talking about point guard play. All you need from your point guard is a guy who can just keep it together. Someone who doesn’t make a huge mistake in the huge moment. You don’t need the best point guard. You just need the best guy, regardless of position. That “best point guard” moniker has gotten Chris Paul NO TITLES. Derrick Rose, NO TITLE. Steve Nash, NO TITLES. Jason Kidd, NO TITLE in his prime. Gary Payton NO TITLE in his prime.

Want to know if your team is going to win the title? Ask yourself two simple questions. “Does my team have the best player?” “Does my team have one of the five best players?” If the answer to either or both was no, then no. If the answer to one or both was yes, then maybe. And maybe is a hell of a lot better than no.

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