How We Define a Point Guard, Part II

Passing_medium

We need this guy!

I was working on a little PG analysis, and all of a sudden Exhibit G pops up with an outstanding post on how to define a point guard. Such is life when you share the same desk at the StR corporate office, and I really hope that "G" didn’t need the prescription heart medicine that he left in the upper right hand drawer. But I’m not bitter, and that’s the important thing.

I agree with what "G" covers in his post. A point guard is not defined by passing alone. Further, sometimes we think of a certain point guard as a passing PG, when the stats ultimately tell otherwise.

So my new goal became to find out who are the true facilitators in the NBA today. Who are the guards that spend the most time and energy setting up their teammates, and could this be broken down into some sort of statistical form?

The following is a compilation of last year’s NBA starting point guards (please don’t quibble with the Jarrett Jack over T.J. Ford argument, or the Monta Ellis is not a PG argument – it does not really change the overall numbers that much). "Shots Per Game" represents shots and free throws taken (two FT’s = 1 shot), "Dispenses" represents the total of shots/assists/turnovers totaled per game.  All numbers are rounded.

Now, let’s take a quick moment to cover what these numbers don’t represent. They don’t tell the story of how many times a teammate defiles a potential assist by missing the shot, but let’s call that a relatively static number. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce miss shots, too. Certainly, point guards benefit from playing with better players. But they are also supposed to make the players that they are playing with better.

This study does not reflect at all on what type of an offense that a particular team is running, and how that might impact a PG’s numbers. For example, if you placed Beno Udrih in the Phoenix offense and Steve Nash in Sacramento’s offense, how would it impact their respective numbers? Or is it a chicken and the egg thing? That is, if Nash were in Sacramento, would the offensive philosophy change? Be that as it may, these numbers do not delve into that conversation.

There is also no reference here to shooting efficiency or defense, and this is in no way an attempt to rate point guards on their overall ability and value. This is solely an exercise to find out who are truly "pass first" point guards, and who are selfish, gunning SOB’s. Let’s take a look –

NAME SHOTS PER GAME ASSISTS PER GAME TURNOVERS PER GAME TOTAL "DISPENSES" PER GAME ASSIST PERCENTAGE
Kidd 8 9 2 19 47%
Calderon 11 9 2 22 41%
Nash 13 10 3 26 38%
Rondo 11 8 3 22 36%
Williams,D 17 11 3 31 35%
Duhon 10 7 3 20 35%
Paul 19 11 3 33 33%
Billups 16 8 2 26 31%
Chalmers 9 5 2 16 31%
Davis 16 8 3 27 30%
Sessions 12 6 2 20 30%
Felton 14 7 3 24 29%
Miller 15 7 2 24 29%
Blake 10 5 2 17 29%
Udrih 11 5 2 18 28%
Stuckey 13 5 2 20 25%
Conley 10 4 2 16 25%
James,M 10 4 2 16 25%
Rose 16 6 3 25 24%
Bibby 14 5 2 21 24%
Ford 14 5 2 21 24%
Nelson 14 5 2 21 24%
Harris 20 7 3 30 23%
Parker 20 7 3 30 23%
Fisher 9 3 1 13 23%
Westbrook 16 5 3 24 21%
Williams,M 15 4 2 21 19%
Brooks 11 3 2 16 19%
Foye 16 4 2 22 18%
Ellis 19 4 3 26 15%
AVERAGE 14 6 2 22 27%

It is not really surprising that Calderon, Kidd and Nash top the list. My favorite two PG’s in the league rank #5 and #7 -  In spite of the fact that Deron Williams and Chris Paul III take a lot of shots, they still initiate to their colleagues a comparatively high percentage of the time.

But there are some surprises on this list. Beno is right in the middle, which shocked me a little. Derrick Rose ranks #19, Devin Harris #23, Tony Parker #24, Russell Westbrook #26. Boy, I’m sure we don’t have any of those chuckers (note sarcasm).  Is Derrick Rose not thought of as a pass first PG? Isn’t Tony Parker Robin to Tim Duncan’s Batman (and does that make Manu Alfred or Commissioner Gordon?)?

That gives me an idea – let’s look at the guys that have been mentioned with some interest in posts and threads over the past several weeks:

Calderon 11 9 2 22 41%
Rondo 11 8 3 22 36%
Chalmers 9 5 2 16 31%
Sessions 12 6 2 20 30%
Felton 14 7 3 24 29%
Miller 15 7 2 24 29%
Conley 10 4 2 16 25%
Harris 20 7 3 30 23%
Westbrook 16 5 3 24 21%
Brooks 11 3 2 16 19%
AVERAGE 13 6 2 21 29%

Focusing on Harris and Westbrook here, statistically they certainly do not look like pass first PG’s. But wouldn’t you take either one of them right now? At the very least, were you not lusting for either/both of these guys prior to the drafting of Tyreke Evans?

At the end of all of this, I am left with this far too simplistic conclusion (and this pertains to on court persona, only). If Tyreke Evans develops a consistent perimeter shot, he becomes a Chauncey Billups type of point guard, maybe a Baron Davis. Evans will get his shots, but he will also involve his teammates. Reke may not become the alley-ooping highlight reel that some of us lust for, but the more effective he becomes as a scorer, the bigger the passing lanes will become and the easier it will be for him to locate wide open teammates.

Regardless, I have come to the conclusion that if Tyreke Evans does not at least have the potential to be an NBA point guard, then a lot of the guys on this list need to turn in their playmaker cards as well.

As the NBA continues to morph into a league of versatile players, the positions are going to become harder to define. Shawn Marion, Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis are all small forwards that have logged time at power forward. Dwyane Wade and Brandon Roy are two guards that also initiate the offense. You go ahead and define Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony. Kobe and LeBron…I don’t know how you categorize these guys other than to use the word "great" and leave it at that.

Define Evans as you please. I am going to define him as "Sacramento King," and define myself as "grateful and excited."

 

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