I was always short for my age prior to my sophomore year of high school. And yet I loved playing basketball. My love of basketball combined with my diminutive stature inevitably led me to become a point guard. I idolized Muggsy Bogues and held him up as the proof that I could play basketball no matter how short I was. I lacked the athleticism of a Bogues or a Spud Webb, and I wasn't a very good shooter. Luckily all of this led me to focus on the two aspects of the game that were easiest for me: ball handling and defense. The defense was just about tenacity. The ball-handling was because I practiced endlessly.
I put myself through dribbling drills, I practiced and practiced. I figured I could make a place for myself as a facilitator. The guy who made everyone else happy. I would still shoot when I was practicing, but I would rarely shoot in pickup games or rec league games. I embraced the role of the traditional point guard to an extreme. One year in rec league, it was the last game of the season, and the coach told everyone to start feeding me the ball. He had realized I had not scored once throughout the entire season. I hadn't realized it at all up to that point, I didn't care about my own points.
I'm telling you all of this for a purpose. I'm about to break down how we define a point guard, because it seems that we're spending a lot of time on this topic in terms of how Tyreke Evans fits on the Kings roster. It's important that you know that I have a very traditional view of a point guard, and also that you remember that I was a huge supporter of Ricky Rubio, possibly the most traditional point guard in this year's draft.
These two things are important because I'm going to show you that Tyreke Evans is a point guard.
Before I delve into this much further, allow me to add a disclaimer. I mentioned Rubio, but this is not a comparison of the two players. This will not be a comparison of Evans with any player. Other players may be mentioned as examples of ideas, but I am not going to make any direct comparisons.
The dictionary does not have a definition of a point guard. It has definitions for the words "point" and "guard", but not together. So I went instead to the dictionary of the common man, Wikipedia. Wikipedia's page for Point Guards is rather interesting, and it offers several interesting characteristics for point guards:
The Basketball Handbook by Lee Rose describes a point guard as a coach on the floor, who can handle and distribute the ball to teammates. It also states that the more speed a point guard has, the more likely he will be able to create separation and space off the dribble, which allows the point guard room to work.
A true point guard's job is to create scoring opportunities for his/her team. The role includes passing and running the offense: setting up plays on the court, getting the ball to the teammate that he feels is in the best position to score, and dictating the tempo of the game.
Of course, the issue many people have with Wikipedia is that it is not necessarily a definitive source of information since anyone is capable of editing it (but that's never stopped us from calling Napear "Peaches"). But read those quotes. I think we can all agree that they are reasonable descriptions of a point guard.
It really boils down to the fact that a point guard's job, regardless of my naive childhood "pass-only" views, is to run the team. The point guard controls the pace, distributes the ball, and scores. The traditional view of a point guard is that they should be a "pass-first" point guard. But why would we even have the term "pass-first point guard" if that was the expectation for all point guards? The consummate distributor style of point guard is just that, it is a style that some point guards use.
Obviously not all "score-first" point guards have been successful (see Stephon Marbury), but there are many examples that have. When we recall better times for the Kings, we remember that Jason Williams was a brilliant passer, but the team was better when Mike Bibby, more of a scoring point guard, joined the team.
So what does Evans bring to the table for offense? He's quick, can create separation, can shoot, can get to the rim, and has demonstrated some passing skills. The passing skills need improvement, but he's young. He has time to improve. He's shown that he has the instincts. Instincts cannot be taught. The actual skill of passing the ball can be taught.
I haven't spent much time discussing defense, because as of right now there hasn't been much question of Evan's defense. He's fast, he's got size, he's physical. He's what you want from perimeter defender.
He's not Jason Kidd or Chris Paul, I'll grant you that. I'd like to see improved passing skills, but I believe that those will come with time. I also haven't heard much about Evans as the "floor general" of the team. But I also haven't heard a lot of concerns about any perceived lacked of leadership.
So now I'm trying to figure this out, how is Tyreke Evans not a point guard?