Question for you NBA connoisseurs out there...name the last elite NBA point guard who led their team to an NBA title.
Don't worry...I'll wait.
If you came up with Isiah Thomas back in 1990 with the Detroit Pistons, you would be correct. You young folks out there that said "Tony Parker-(Longoria)!" have no sense of history, have no idea what "elite" is, and need to get some old men with some wisdom in your life.
So for all the pundits and the prognosticators of this great game of basketball who will tell you that this is the "Golden Era of Point Guards" why do I not believe that any of them will lead their team to an NBA title anytime soon?
In the last 20 years, I can only think of three point guards worth a damn that have won an NBA title. Chauncey Billups, Tony Parker-Longoria, and Rajon Rondo. I'll deal with Billups last. Tony Parker-Longoria is a good mid-tier point guard, not elite, but a good one. Yes, he won a Finals MVP in 2007, but any self-respecting basketball aficionado knows that '07 MVP belongs to Timothy Theodore Duncan. Rajon Rondo is now edging into the class of being an elite point guard, but he was a young buck who still had peach fuzz growing on his lip and that team belonged to the Big Three.
As for our main man Chauncey aka Mr. Big Shot...yes, I do believe he was an unquestioned leader of that '04 Pistons squad. However, that Pistons teams has many of the same characteristics most championship teams have.
They had an "elite" frontline.
The pairing of an elite frontline and a great point guard is magical...we got the Bad Boys Pistons with Isiah, we got the Showtime Lakers with Magic, the 70's Knickerbockers with Walt "Clyde" Frazier, the 60's Celtics with Cousy...you get my point. You get an all-time floor general with an superior frontcourt and great things can happen.
Well, who in this league....in 2010...is going to be able to win a title and be the leader that takes their team to the promised land?
Do we think that Millsap, Jefferson, and the frail, flimsy, feathery Okur with Jerry Sloan coaching them up get them to a title?
West and Okafor? Month Williams as their coach? Oh my bad, Monty Williams...
They've got the frontline of....
They've got Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, and Air Congo (Serge Ibaka). Yet they've got no center. No post game. No big that could actually handle a legitimate 7-footer. (See the Lakers series last season.)
Boozer and Noah...they are both lifetime members of the Light-Skinned Coalition. They've got room to grown, but even I don't believe in them.
You can take Jason Kidd, Brandon Jennings, John Wall, Aaron Brooks, Tony Parker-Longoria, Raymond Felton, Stephen Curry, Tyreke Evans, Chauncey Billups, take any point guard you want.
They aren't winning a title anytime soon.
Hell, do you know how much time we wasted talking about the greatness of Jason Kidd and Steve Nash? Do you know how much time we wasted talking about the greatness of Chris Paul and Deron Williams?
They aren't winning a title anytime soon.
In a league that is NOT cyclical, where we seem to see the same teams always in the fight, we already know who's going to be in the finals.
The Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Boston is fortunate, they now have the almost perfect equation for an elite squad. They've got a super good frontline, (led by KG, plus used-to-be-great role players in Shaq and Jermaine O'Neal) good wings in Ray-Ray and Pierce, and they invested and developed a point guard in Rajon Rondo. Rondo is blowing the league leaders in assists this year (averaging 14 per game, almost four more than second place.) They've got everything you want...except the problem is that everyone but Rondo is old. The Celtics will take it and figure it out.
Then you've got the Los Angeles Lakers, who have a team that I once compared to the 80's Celtics, because they simply have the best frontline in the Association. Don't kid yourself, you're not getting better than Gasol, Odom, and a healthy Bynum. Hell, they've won one with a gimpy Bynum last season. Oh yeah, they've got a borderline top-10 player of all-time in Kobe Bryant and the best basketball coach ever in Phil Jackson. Good luck with that.
Are we just in another era where a dynasty/powerhouse has been built and everyone else's talent doesn't matter? Are point guards really overrated?
Kids, the moral of this story is that a great point guard can turn a sorry team to a good team. However, a great frontline can turn you into an awesome team. Look, I know there are some questions and perceived flaws in this argument, but I thought about those too. Let me dispel them quickly...
Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic - I had the audacity and unmitigated gall to write my first ever SLAM article on how Pau Gasol was the best big man in the NBA and the MVP of the Los Angeles Lakers. Dwight Howard, in my opinion, is a very good big man. He's not great...not yet. He's improving...he finally got with The Dream and got him some post moves, but until we see him do it on the brightest of lights, I'm just not a believer in the so-called Superman and Orlando's chances in winning a championship.
The Jordan and the 90's Bulls - Ummm...they had The Jordan. The best player to ever play the game, they didn't need an elite frontline...plus I'll always believe that The Jordan and the Bulls got off easy. (OH THE BLASPHEMY!!!)
The Point Guard isn't the Point Guard - At the end of the day, you DEFINITELY want a point guard. Someone who can manage the team, bring the ball up, distribute, and be the unquestioned leader of the squad. Well guess what...they don't make all those players like that with the measurables of 6'0" to 6'4" who weigh 170-210 pounds. Larry Bird was the key distributor of those great Celtics teams, Jerry West was with the 60's and 70's Lakers, The Jordan in the 90's (along with Pippen) handled those duties in the 90's. The reason why everyone wants LeBron is that they believe he can be that kind of guy. LeBron knows this, and is the reason why he DOES NOT want to be the point guard. He's not a PG, at all. Sometimes we confuse unselfish for being a great point guard.
Hell, you can just go probably go through the teams in the NBA who DON'T have a decent NBA point guard on one hand. EVERYONE has a PG, but not everyone has quality bigs. Its that combination of defending the rim, scoring inside, and getting those key rebounds and loose balls is what it takes to win titles. That's why you pay Andrew Bynum all that money. That's why you take Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan. That's why you take Greg Oden over Kevin Durant. (Sorry all 4 Blazers fans that read this blog) That's why Jerome James, Eddy Curry, and Jim McIlvane will be eating greedy for the rest of their lives, regardless of how wack they were on the basketball court.
(David Stern walks up to the podium, stares into the crowd with a sly smile while the crowd gives him the business.)
"With the first pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, the (insert horrible team name here) selects (random seven-footer's name), center from (random school who pays random money to random prep school, overseas team, high school/AAU coach for a player's "services")."
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